Implications Of Excluding Superannuation As A Protected Asset In Compensation Claims For Child Sexual Abuse Perpetrators
The consequences of child sexual abuse can have a lasting impact on individuals, leading to enduring physical and psychological harm. Australian legislation permits survivors of child sexual abuse to pursue compensation for the harm they have suffered. However, a significant obstacle arises when perpetrators often lack sufficient assets to fulfil compensation awards. This results from the current system allowing perpetrators to safeguard their superannuation funds from costs orders, leaving survivors without appropriate restitution. This article delves into the implications of this legal loophole and examines the endeavours to rectify the situation.
Understanding – CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE COMPENSATION LOOPHOLE
The current legislation in Australia enables survivors of child sexual abuse to pursue compensation from their perpetrators to address the harm they have endured. If the court finds the abuser liable, they can be ordered to compensate the survivor. However, many perpetrators exploit a legal loophole that shields assets in their superannuation accounts from these costs orders.
Superannuation is a retirement savings system in Australia where employers must contribute to their employees’ superannuation accounts. The balance of the account increases over time and can grow to be quite substantial. Superannuation accounts are safeguarded from creditors, including victims seeking compensation. Consequently, abusers can augment their superannuation contributions, reducing the available compensation funds. Various assets, including property, can be transferred into super accounts when self-managed. This means that even if survivors succeed in their claims, they may still find themselves without adequate compensation, particularly if the abuser possesses no additional assets outside their superannuation account. This loophole leaves survivors without financial support to rebuild their lives, often requiring ongoing psychological treatment.
Thankfully, a group of dedicated advocates is working to close this loophole and ensure survivors receive the rightful compensation they deserve. Among these advocates is Grace Tame, honoured as the Australian of the Year in 2021 for her outstanding efforts in raising awareness about child sexual abuse. Tame has been a staunch advocate, urging the Australian government to take decisive action to prevent perpetrators from shielding their assets within their superannuation accounts to evade compensation orders. Her tireless advocacy has yielded positive results, as the Australian government announced in 2021 that it is actively considering ending the superannuation loophole.
To further address this issue, the Australian Government Treasury recently initiated a consultation process to gather public opinions. The consultation period has since concluded, indicating a significant step forward in tackling this matter.
The Ramifications of Closing the Compensation Gap
Closing the superannuation loophole would have significant implications for survivors of child sexual abuse. It would signify a crucial shift, preventing perpetrators from safeguarding their superannuation funds against compensation orders. This would ensure survivors receive the financial support necessary to rebuild their lives. Nevertheless, closing the loophole poses specific challenges and concerns. Critics argue that it may inadvertently hinder perpetrators’ ability to repay debts, support their families, or rely on government pensions post-retirement. There are apprehensions about a potential surge in bankruptcies and insolvencies if the loophole is closed. However, advocates assert that closing the loophole is vital for delivering justice to survivors of child sexual abuse. They argue that perpetrators should not be allowed to shield their financial assets from compensation orders, emphasising the importance of granting survivors access to the complete range of financial resources available to their abusers.
The consultation period has now concluded, and it remains to be seen if the Australian Government will take action to strike a better balance between victims’ rights and the fundamental objectives of the superannuation system.
Support Services for Survivors
If you or someone you know has been impacted by child sexual abuse, it is essential to know that support services are available.
These organisations offer a range of services, including counselling, legal advice, and support for accessing compensation:
Blue Knot Foundation: 1300 657 380 or blueknot.org.au
Bravehearts: 1800 272 831 or bravehearts.org.au
Care Leavers Australasia Network (CLAN): 1800 008 774 or clan.org.au
National Redress Scheme: 1800 737 377
Ramsden Lawyers – How We Can Help
In the unfortunate event that you or someone you know has been a victim of child sexual abuse, it is crucial to remember that support is within reach. Ramsden Lawyers is dedicated to assisting and guiding you through pursuing compensation. Our team of skilled lawyers profoundly understands the intricate legal aspects surrounding child sexual abuse cases. We are committed to offering compassionate and confidential representation to our clients. You do not have to endure this in silence. Reach out to us today and embark on the first step towards attaining the justice and compensation you rightfully deserve.