Six former foster children denied compensation over alleged abuse by the Queensland Court of Appeal have been given new hope by the High Court.
In a unanimous decision handed down last week, the High Court overturned the appeal court’s majority decision and a ruling of the Brisbane Supreme Court to deny legal action against the Queensland Government. Those courts focused on whether the foster children were entitled to an extension to bring their action even though it was taken after the three-year limitation period.
The group say their action was delayed because they had not realised they were the victims of abuse until reading an article in The Courier-Mail in 2003 about the allegations of widespread abuse in Queensland foster care.
The High Court ordered the State Government to pay the group’s legal costs for some of the actions taken to date.
Three former police officers also gained recognition from the High Court. They had been seeking compensation from the State of Queensland for psychiatric injuries they claim developed after they were put in life-threatening situations.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance said the High Court decisions highlight the importance of access to justice and that courts should not put hurdles in front of people seeking just compensation. “People who suffer abuse as children often do not become aware of the serious impact it has had on their lives until much later in life,” Mr Faulks said. “It is important that such people can seek appropriate remedies when they do become aware of those links.”
“The limitations previously imposed in such cases is not just an issue confined to Queensland and will have implications for other jurisdictions.”