For several years, survivors and activists have been campaigning the federal government to change the Bankruptcy Act. The Grace Tame Foundation and partners have been crucial in this fight and it seems as though the federal government has listened. Kelly O’Dwyer, the former financial services minister, was the first person to flag this loophole back in 2018. Plans to make changes to the legislation stalled. It’s a move Labor has taken into consideration following their election win.
Under the current legislation, convicted child sex offenders can hide assets in their super. That means that if a victim launches civil action for sexual abuse compensation, they will be unable to receive compensation if sex offenders siphon their money into superannuation accounts. It’s a loophole that allows convicted offenders to protect their assets from civil action by shifting everything into super before declaring bankruptcy.
This loophole is just another example of why The National Redress Scheme is so important. The road to justice for survivors of child sexual abuse is a long one. The NRS eases that in some ways. Yet, this loophole in the Bankruptcy Act makes a mockery of the civil court system. Even when a victim goes through the painful process of a civil action, their abuser can wield power over them yet again by preventing them from receiving the compensation they deserve. The system, as is, helps convicted offenders hurt their victims all over again.
As Grace Tame has pointed out repeatedly, the discussion paper highlights the concern that the loophole in the Bankruptcy Act provides offenders with an incentive to hide their assets in their super. John Millwood is a wealthy convicted sex offender who was ordered to pay his victim over $5 million in compensation. He is just one of the many pedophiles to take advantage of this loophole to avoid paying his victim what is owed.
Proposal for Change
The government has released a discussion paper with two proposals for consultation, which ends on the 16th of February. The proposed changes include several key points. One of the key changes is that any contributions the offender makes to their super ahead of criminal proceedings are to be made available for compensation to victims.
Under the proposed changes, the Court is entitled to access data from the ATO to provide full transparency about super payments and assets. The mechanisms proposed within the discussion paper are exclusively for the benefit of victims of child sexual abuse, whether it is in a criminal proceeding or a civil compensation case.
How AJB Stevens Can Help
If you want to seek compensation as the victim of historical child sexual abuse, AJB Stevens can fight on your behalf. AJB Stevens are experts in this area. Our knowledgeable team is well versed in the ever-changing legislation, as well as the National Redress Scheme compensation route. Whether you want to file a claim with the NRS or you want to go down the civil route, AJB Stevens can provide expert legal advice. Contact us today.