Lawyers set up register for church abuse victims

ONLY a day after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a royal commission into child sex abuse by institutions, Warrnambool-based Maddens Lawyers launched a victims register for potential compensation claims.

It is believed the law firm is the first in Australia to start a register for the controversial issue which has wide implications for south-west Victoria with cases of sexual abuse by Catholic Church clergy dating back to the 1960s.

Although the commission’s terms of reference are yet to be determined, Maddens will suggest there be another independent body established to look at possible compensation for victims. The firm has had experience in leading compensation claims for Australian-based victims of abuse in church and government institutions in the Republic of Ireland.

It also acted for abuse victims of WA state-based institutions, in the class actions by property owners affected by the Black Saturday bushfires and for victims of asbestos-related illnesses.

“As soon as the government settles on terms of reference for the commission and calls for submissions we will be sending correspondence,” Maddens personal injuries department head Gary Foster said. “Our role in creating the register is to enable people to express their interest in making a claim and to have an avenue where they can be informed on the commission’s progress at no cost to themselves.”

pcollins@standard.fairfax.com.au

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