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Supreme Court fast tracks historic sexual abuse case

With just two months to live, a sexual abuse survivor has won a historic judgement in the first-of-its-kind case before the Supreme Court of Western Australia.

user iconNaomi Neilson 27 May 2020 Big Law
Supreme Court WA
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Maurice Blackburn Lawyers client Albert Aitken secured the $850,000 judgement against the Anglican Church and the state of Western Australia within just 16 days due to health conditions, with trial dates set only 21 days after the proceedings commenced.

The firm’s Western Australian head of abuse law Gemma Taylor said the case is of historical significance as the first institutional childhood sexual abuse to be brought to the Supreme Court and due to the speed in which it was finalised before a judge.


“Tragically, Mr Aitken was given just two months to live in April 2020 after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. Due to his serious ill health, proceedings for his claim commenced in May and were fast tracked through the Supreme Court, in what we believed is one of the fastest listings in Western Australian history,” said Ms Taylor.

Mr Aitken was raped four or five times a week for a year from the age of 12, after he was made a ward of the state in the mid-1940s. He was placed in Swan Homes, later known as Swanleigh, which was run by the Anglican Church. He repeatedly complained but was told he would not be believed and was prevented from seeking any justice.

Ms Taylor said the case is a reminder of one of the key advantages of a civil claim for the institutional sexual abuse, as opposed to the alternative Redress Scheme. If he pursued a claim under the scheme, he would have only received a maximum of $150,000.

“This great outcome was only made possible due to an extraordinary priority the Supreme Court of WA gave to Mr Aitken’s right to justice and their willingness to put any resources into ensuring his matter was heard,” Ms Taylor said.