Cameron Hall and Catherine Gabriel of Hall Payne Lawyers.
Cameron Hall and Catherine Gabriel of Hall Payne Lawyers.

Law firm expecting claims of historical child abuse to rise

A LAW firm is reaching out to Ipswich community groups and charities in an effort to assist as many people as possible in regards to historical child abuse following changes in legislation.

The head of a major Australian child abuse charity told the QT last month it was expecting a "tsunami" of unreported cases in the wake of COVID-19.

Act for Kids CEO Dr Neil Carrington said Ipswich was an area of particular concern.

Hall Payne Lawyers, which has offices in Ipswich and Brisbane, wants to increase access to legal support and information to people in the Ipswich community by partnering with Act for Kids.

It is also reaching out to other local groups and organisations.

Principal Cameron Hall said he is expecting the number of local claims related to historical child abuse to increase.

"Unfortunately, it is a growing area of law across the state," he said.

"In March this year, the State Government implemented legislation that allowed claims for sexual and physical abuse to proceed, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

"Regrettably, significant historical abuse occurred at a number of institutions in and around the Ipswich area.

"Our abuse team are presently dealing with a number of such claims at the moment. "Unfortunately, it would seem from the information we already have about the nature and extent of the abuse which occurred at these places, we are expecting the number of these claims to increase."

Mr Hall said the legislation change effectively removed the time limit on a claim arising from incidents of child abuse.

"What this means, is that people who were placed in foster care, childrens homes, health facilities like Karrala House or detention centres like Sir Leslie Wilson can now bring a claim if they suffered due to sexual, serious physical, or associated physiological abuse while in these facilities as a child," he said.

"Whilst anyone who was exposed to abuse as a child will have a legal entitlement to bring a claim for compensation.

"The legal right to seek compensation is not restricted to only those who suffered abuse whilst at an institution.

"Many suffered abuse whilst at school, whilst in foster care, or when being supervised by an adult whilst participating in youth groups or sporting activities."

Mr Hall said the firm had a long history of being involved in the community.

"We have members in our abuse team who grew up and continue to live in Ipswich," he said.

"Ipswich is a rapidly growing community and the recent article relating to child abuse in the region highlighted the need for support services in the wider Ipswich community."

Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor.