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Published: 06 March 2018
Author: Ryan Carlisle Thomas

Ryan Carlisle Thomas appears before Senate Redress Committee

Ryan Carlisle Thomas Partner and Head of its Institutional Abuse practice, Penny Savidis, was invited to appear before the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs today regarding the proposed Commonwealth redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

Ms Savidis addressed the Senate Committee with her client who was identified by the pseudonym ”John”. John was so incensed that survivors like him were going to be excluded from redress that he penned a letter to the Prime Minister asking what more he had to do to be judged worthy of redress. His letter (What else do I need to do before I'm judged worthy of redress?) was included as an attachment to Ryan Carlisle Thomas’ submission to the Senate Committee.

Ms Savidis and John strongly urged the Committee to reconsider the proposed blanket exclusion of those with criminal records of 5 years or more, as foreshadowed by the then Minister for Social Services Christian Porter. Ms Savidis stated that the proposed exclusion is particularly unjust in circumstances where well-documented effects of child sexual abuse can include resorting to crime and imprisonment. John detailed horrific abuse he suffered as a ward of the State and explained how it led to a life of crime until he got his life back on track. He told the Committee he has had no criminal convictions since 1986 and had been a law abiding citizen and in regular employment since being released from jail in 1993.

Ms Savidis also stated that the legal team at Ryan Carlisle Thomas believes that survivors who suffered physical abuse, psychological abuse, cultural abuse and neglect with no associated sexual abuse should be covered by the proposed redress scheme. She stated that the effects of such abuse can also be debilitating for survivors and deserve recognition.

The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs is due to report on 13 March 2018.