Sexual abuse is a crime, and has long-reaching effects on the lives of victims, no matter what age they were when it occurred. For victims of childhood sexual abuse, it can complicate their lives even throughout adulthood. Especially if that abuse was denied by those responsible and the victim could not receive treatment to help them heal.
What is the NRS?
The Royal Commission established the National Redress Scheme as part of their commission into institutional sexual abuse. For those eligible to file sexual abuse redress claims with the NRS, you may receive a national redress payment of up to $150,000, plus psychological support, and a direct response from the institution responsible for your abuse.
Payment through the NRS is not for the pain and suffering you experienced and it isn’t for the loss of income. The purpose is to acknowledge the impact child sexual abuse at the hands of an institution had on you.
How Does Someone With a Serious Criminal Conviction Claim Compensation?
If you are serving a prison sentence or have received a sentence of five years or more, your application will be processed differently.
The first step is to complete a special assessment form. It is best to do this alongside your lawyer. If you are serving your sentence, you must complete the Applying From Jail: Additional Information Form.
Though you may have already provided some of the personal information the form requests, you will need to provide it again. The scheme will carry out a Nationally Coordinated Criminal History Check.
In addition to the standard personal information, the form will require you to share information about your criminal conviction and rehabilitation. All of this information, including the outcome of the criminal history check, will be passed to the Attorney’s General where your abuse occurred and where your offence occured if this is a different jurisdiction.
The decision will factor into how the community may perceive your participation in the National Redress Scheme, your rehabilitation, the nature of the offence, the length of your sentence, and the period of time since the offence.
Enlisting the services of an expert will help ensure you get a fair chance at receiving the compensation you deserve for the abuse you suffered at the hands of an institution.
When To Seek Legal Advice & Why
If you were the victim of child sexual abuse and are thinking about filing a claim with the NRS scheme, you should seek legal advice before going any further. The NRS is capped at $150,000. It isn’t the only avenue available to you, and speaking with an experienced team of lawyers can help you determine which course of action is right for you. Once you make a claim with the NRS, you are unable to pursue other claims. So, you must understand all of your options to ensure you make the best decision for yourself.
Additionally, not everyone is eligible to make a claim. If you have already received compensation, you may still be able to apply, but the court will consider prior payments. You can only make one application if you were abused in more than one institution. Choosing to make an NRS claim means you can’t take civil action against the offenders. That’s why legal advice is important.
If you apply to the scheme from jail, there must be exceptional circumstances for the NRS to accept it. This includes an illness that makes waiting until your release unlikely or that your sentence extends beyond 2027 when applications will no longer be accepted. They may be willing to hear other exceptional circumstances if you feel they justify your application. You should discuss this with a lawyer who can advise you whether your circumstances are exceptional or whether waiting until you are released would be more appropriate.
You can nominate a person (or organisation) to complete your application on your behalf. A legal nominee can complete the form and sign it on your behalf. An assistance nominee can help you fill it out, but they are not allowed to sign it on your behalf.
How AJB Stevens Can Help
If you are a victim of child sexual abuse and you want to make a claim with the sexual abuse compensation scheme, you need family sexual abuse lawyers who understand the system and will fight for you.
AJB Stevens are specialist sexual abuse lawyers in Sydney and our team is willing to represent you. We can help you complete your application to the scheme to ensure you include all of the relevant information to receive the settlement you deserve. It might not erase the past, but it can help you build the future you have always deserved.