The team at NLS Law are experienced, compassionate and trained to specifically work with survivors who have complex trauma from child sexual abuse while they were under the care of the government. While nothing is able to change the past, NLS Law can help survivors get financial compensation and redress to enable them to have a better future.


“There was a time in Australian history when the conjunction of prevailing social attitudes to children and an unquestioning respect for authority of institutions by adults coalesced to create the high-risk environment in which thousands of children were abused. Although the primary responsibility for the sexual abuse of an individual lies with the abuser and the institution they were part of, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the problems faced by many people who have been abused are the responsibility of our entire society.”

- The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s report on Redress and Civil Litigation


The Australian Bureau of Statistics, defines Sexual Assault as:
“…unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature directed towards a person which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened or harmed” in circumstances where that person has not freely agreed, consented or is incapable of consenting to that behaviour”.

The team at NLS Law are experienced, compassionate and trained to specifically work with survivors who have complex trauma from child sexual abuse while they were under the care of the government. While nothing is able to change the past, NLS Law can help survivors get financial compensation and redress to enable them to have a better future.

“There was a time in Australian history when the conjunction of prevailing social attitudes to children and an unquestioning respect for authority of institutions by adults coalesced to create the high-risk environment in which thousands of children were abused. Although the primary responsibility for the sexual abuse of an individual lies with the abuser and the institution they were part of, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the problems faced by many people who have been abused are the responsibility of our entire society.”

- The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s report on Redress and Civil Litigation

The Australian Bureau of Statistics, defines Sexual Assault as:

“…unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature directed towards a person which makes that person feel uncomfortable, distressed, frightened, threatened or harmed” in circumstances where that person has not freely agreed, consented or is incapable of consenting to that behaviour”.

Government and Foster Care

The NSW Government assists families to meet their responsibilities for the care of their children and intervenes for the protection or control of children when the family is not meeting or cannot meet this responsibility to the standards set by the state.

In Australia each state has an agency which is responsible for family and children is the Department of Family and Community Services (Community Services).

Community Services’ core aim is to protect children and young people from harm and to provide care for those who are not able to live with their families.

If Community Services needs to intervene in the case of a particular child, it must do so on the basis that their best interests are paramount.

When placing children in out-home-care Community Services must ensure that the care arrangements meet their needs and support their personal and cultural development.

The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 promotes the use of the least intrusive strategies to protect and care for children, and as such Community Services must take relative and kinship arrangements into consideration. Relative and kinship arrangements are a way to help children preserve and maintain their affiliation with their biological family. However, if this is not possible, Community Services must organise placement arrangements, which meet their assessed needs.

The reality of Government and Foster care

Many children entering the care and protection system are already significantly disadvantaged. Many are then children placed in out-of-home care are also not placed in safe environments. Children in care often experience numerous placings and are deprived of stable environments.   The NSW Community Services has stated that:

[o]ur information and experience gathered through complaints, reviews and the community visitors indicate that, as a community, we are failing many of our most vulnerable children, and, in too many cases, actually exposing them to further abuse within the very system that is supposed to care for and protect them....Research suggests that children in out-of-home care are at greater risk of abuse — be it physical, emotional or sexual — than children generally living at home with their parents. As such, these children have early and frequent reminders of their limited voice within the legal process.





What defines abuse?

The term ‘abuse’ applies to mistreatment, including physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment of a child, by a person who is in a position of power over the child. It is a betrayal of the trust placed in that person that makes this conduct more than simple assault.  

The Royal Commission has revealed many cases of how this trust can be broken by persons who are placed in a position of trust over children in organisations, including in government and foster care.  

Child sexual abuse can destroy not only the child or young person, but also the adult they become. The affects are not limited to the survivor, it extends to the survivors’ family and friends. This damage is not always something that the survivor or people close to the survivor will be able to identify, simply because it is insidious and simply looks like growing up or puberty. It is all too common that survivors may have never made the connection between the child sexual abuse they suffered and the difficulties they experience in their adult lives.  

There is now significant research which establishes how extensive the physical and psychological damage can be from child abuse. The damage is severe and long-lasting and people can be affected by these injuries for the rest of their lives. The research also shows the very sad truth that survivors of child sexual abuse do not disclose what happened to them until many, many years after they were abused. Thankfully though, we live in a brave new world where we now have the knowledge to better understand how traumatizing child sexual abuse is, and how this results in victims feeling unable to disclose what happened to them. This is largely due to the Royal Commission into Institutional abuse and the focus in medical and psychological research on child sexual abuse.

What you can do

According to the Royal Commission, ‘justice’ in the civil process has to focus on “the provision of redress to address or alleviate the impact on survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.”

While nothing is able to change the past, financial compensation and redress can provide the means to allow survivors and their families to have a better future.

  There are numerous options which survivors of abuse can chose to pursue ‘justice’:

  • Victims Compensation is a state based compensation scheme for victims of crime, including sexual abuse. This compensation can include a lump sum recognition payment and counseling.
  • Direct compensation is offered by some institutions, where the abuse occurred at the institution. This compensation is entirely controlled by the institution, although most institutions use the Royal Commission recommendations as a ‘guide’.
  • The Royal Commission’s recommended Redress scheme has been approved, in some ways, by the NSW government. The scheme provides both lump sum compensation and treatment for the survivor and is expected to be implemented by the end of 2017.
  • A civil claim can be filed in court against Institutions and possibly the perpetrator under Negligence. This is essentially suing them for the damages suffered as a result of the abuse.
We strongly recommend obtaining legal advice regarding your options to ensure that you make an informed decision about seeking redress which is based on what you want and what you need. Survivors have earned the right to make their own decisions about their future.

What is a civil claim?

In Australia, people are entitled to seek damages for personal injuries they suffer caused by the deliberate or negligent act of another person. Personal injuries include both the physical and psychological injuries caused by the other person’s deliberate or negligent act. This applies to child sexual abuse which a Psychiatric Expert states resulted in a psychological injury/condition (including drug, alcohol and gambling addictions).

Survivors of child abuse may be able to claim compensation for such things as treatment costs and loss of earnings. Each survivor is different and so each claim is different and you should seek legal advice to discuss your entitlements.

Making a civil claim with the right legal representation can provide survivors with the chance to build their future on their own terms.

While the current legal system is not ideal for responding to child sexual abuse, legal practitioners can use the knowledge and understanding of child sexual abuse to provide legal assistance to survivors without re-traumatising them.

With this knowledge, NLS Law is dedicated to leading the field of child sexual abuse law by establishing an innovative legal practice experienced in representing survivors of child abuse. We use a trauma-informed process to provide survivors with legal representation which empowers them and protects them from the inappropriately technical and formal legal process. Our aim is to attain justice for survivors, both financially and emotionally.

What you can expect when you contact us

After you contact us, we will arrange a consultation at our office to discuss your circumstances under the strictest confidentiality and without any obligation to proceed. We will provide you with advice which will enable you to make an informed decision about whether you wish to make a claim.

Professional fees Our professional fees are only paid at the successful conclusion of a claim by settlement or judgement, which is called a ‘no win/no-fee’ basis. You will be given a cost agreement which outlines how we calculate our fees for our legal services, and an estimated range of your legal costs. This means that, with the exception of “out of pocket expenses” or “disbursements” such as records and reports, you do not have to pay our professional legal fees unless you are successful in your claim.

Why Survivors choose NLS Law

NLS Law is a small boutique firm which offers a survivor focused legal service. NLS Law only employees lawyers who have the same belief in justice and who are dedicated to seeking the best outcome for each individual client. NLS Law has an extensive history of representing children in government and foster care when they need someone to give them a voice.

Each survivor has different circumstances and different needs. NLS Law will provide you with advice on the legal avenues available to you and will continue to support you, even if you decide not to proceed with a civil claim. NLS Law understands the limits of the legal system and that the practice of a survivor’s legal representative has to be sensitive to the deficiencies in the current legal process. We have found that this is the only way to ensure that survivors can achieve the justice they have so long deserved.

Every survivor is entitled to decide how involved they are in their claim. We will provide you with our expert advice so that you can decide what to do in your claim. It’s your claim so you make the decisions.

When you become a client at NLS Law, your lawyer commits to represent you right to the very end of your claim. At other firms, if your lawyer leaves the firm it is a standard for them to be unable to continue acting for you at their new firm. This is an unnecessary stress for survivors involved in an already difficult legal process and as such, at NLS Law we guarantee that our lawyers are not restricted in who they represent when they leave our firm. When you trust your story to us, you can trust that your lawyer will be there to guide you to the conclusion of your claim. No matter what.

Our entire team also regularly undergoes updated training in trauma informed practice to ensure that the NLS law’s aim of creating a new law firm model for survivors of child sexual abuse is part of the day to day work of our team.

NLS CASE STUDY: Justice for Jolene – Who endured 55 changes in care placements

Resources for survivors


blueknot

Blue Knot

(previously Adults Surviving Child Abuse)
  • Conducts Workshops for survivors and their families
  • Information to inform survivors and their families on child sexual abuse
  • Counselling and support for survivors – 1300 657 380
  • Current Blueknot Newsletter

BraveHearts

Bravehearts

Counselling for victims of abuse


KnowMore

Knowmore

Provides free legal advice to people who are considering telling their story or providing information to the Royal Commission.


MissionAus

Mission Australia

Mission Australia Help Line
1300 886 999

Mission Australia’s New Victims of Crime Support Lines
1800 633 063

Mission Australia Administration (crisis accommodation)
02 9219 2000


LifeLine

Lifeline

24 hour crisis and suicide prevention

13 11 14

Suicide

Suicide Call Back Service

24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention.

1300 659 467

Latest News


August 11, 2016
shutterstock_109018265

What is this Royal Commission and why is it important?

The Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse has been active for three years now and has been the topic of many news stories. The significance of the Royal Commission is in providing a voice for Survivors across Australia and educating our society as a whole on the […]
August 9, 2016

Survivors deserve a voice

  Photograph supplied by Ayden Shepherd – ajsphotographyaustralia.com
August 3, 2016
shutterstock_366446120

We need to create a better future

The 42nd Royal Commission Hearing into the Anglican Church in the Newcastle region commenced yesterday. As a solicitor who represents survivors and who wants to be part of a society which faces its past to create a better future for our children, I attended the Royal Commission’s first day of […]
Contact NLS Law
Our clients appreciate a realistic assessment of the outcome of their case. If you need an honest assessment, or to discuss the options available to you, call NLS Law to discuss your current circumstances.
Newcastle
Ph: (02) 4927 6315

E: office@nlslaw.com.au
Level 1, 93 Hunter Street,
Newcastle NSW 2300

Melbourne
Ph: (03) 8397 2222

E: office@nlslaw.com.au
555 Lonsdale Street,
Melbourne VIC 3000


Contact NLS Law
Our clients appreciate a realistic assessment of the outcome of their case. If you need an honest assessment, or to discuss the options available to you, call NLS Law to discuss your current circumstances.





Newcastle
Ph: (02) 4927 6315

E: office@nlslaw.com.au
Level 1, 93 Hunter Street, Newcastle NSW 2300


Melbourne VIC 3000
Ph: (03) 8397 2222

E: office@nlslaw.com.au
555 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000