Are you a survivor of childhood sexual and/or physical abuse?

Play Video


Childhood Sexual and/or Physical Abuse

What compensation can you receive?

Every childhood abuse case is unique, and the amount of compensation will vary based on the specific circumstances. There have however been significant awards for pain and suffering in recent years.

Book Now

The other compensation claim that can result in a significant further award from a Court is proving that the abuse caused a loss of income. Even if you have worked consistently, you may not have worked to your full capacity and a Court can take this into account.

So what are your chances of winning your case?

In 2016 the law for victims of childhood abuse became clearer and easier for compensation claims following a decision of the High Court of Australia.

There are several factors that can impact the chances of winning an abuse compensation claim, which include:

  • How long ago the abuse occurred and whether the perpetrator of the abuse is still alive or if they are deceased, whether your allegations were put to the perpetrator before they died.
  • The circumstances of the abuse. The strongest claims are those in which the abuse is perpetrated during the course of the perpetrator's employment.  But this does not mean that you cannot succeed in other circumstances.  

Having an experienced lawyer who specialises in abuse compensation claims can help build a strong case and increase your chances of winning. We maximise the likelihood of success by conducting a thorough investigation into the circumstances of the abuse. This includes gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses, and working with lawyers in the field. All this information is used to build a strong case on your behalf.

The sooner you start a claim after the abuse, the stronger it is likely to be as memories are fresher and evidence is more likely to be available. But we have succeeded in assisting clients obtain compensation for abuse that occurred more than 40 years ago.

What fees are involved?

At MKF Lawyers, we operate on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis, so if your claim is unsuccessful you do not pay our legal fees. There’s no cost to reach out and have an initial chat about your case. We work on a no win no fee basis for most personal injury claims occurring in Adelaide. This means that you do not pay our legal fees in the event your claim is not successful. We usually work on a no win no fee basis for claims relating to motor vehicle accidents, dog attacks, public liability, medical negligence and total and permanent disability (TPD).

How long does the process take? What’s involved?

Every case is unique, but from the time of our initial meeting through to the actual settlement conference it’s typically a 12 month process.

We will:

  • Step 1: Have an initial phone call or in person meeting to discuss your claim.
  • Step 2: Take a statement from you.
  • Step 3: Obtain any necessary records from the other party.
  • Step 4: Obtain any relevant medical records.
  • Step 5: Obtain any relevant financial records.
  • Step 6: Obtain reports from appropriate doctors.
  • Step 7: Prepare and submit your detailed claim to commence settlement negotiations.

We can assist with:

  • Compensation claims against schools, churches, the government (in particular by former or current Wards of the State), childcare centres, OSHC, doctors, juvenile detention centres or any other institution.
  • Compensation claims made directly against a perpetrator of abuse.
  • Compensation claims for further compensation for a previously settled institutional abuse claim.
  • Church internal claim processes.
  • National Redress Scheme payment applications.

There is no time limit for making a claim if sexual and/or serious physical abuse occurred while you were under the age of 18 years.

The South Australian Parliament has passed legislation which will enable people who have previously resolved their claim (other than via the National Redress Scheme) to apply to the Court to be able to re-litigate their claim, if it was settled at a time when an extension of time to make the claim was required.  

We have extensive experience in recovering compensation from abusers. These claims can be pursued where the abuser has assets, and you can apply to the Court to freeze those assets while the claim is being pursued. Whilst a criminal conviction is a significant benefit, it is not a prerequisite to pursuing a claim. ​

While most claims concern sexual and/or physical abuse that occurred while a person was a child, claims for adults can also be made in some circumstances.

Payment of compensation won't take away the memory or pain of the abuse, but it will assist in accessing necessary supports to manage the effects of the abuse.

Further Compensation For A Previously Settled Claim

On 1 August 2022, legislation was activated in South Australia that allows settlements reached against the South Australian Government, churches, schools or other South Australian institutions to be set aside for compensation claims relating to childhood sexual abuse or serious physical abuse.

The new legislation is important as many survivors of childhood sex abuse resolved their claims in the past for amounts significantly lower than what they could have achieved, if the previous barrier of bringing the claim within a strict three-year time limit was not in place. The legislation provides that, for the previous settlement to be set aside, a Court in South Australia needs to find that it is just and reasonable to do so. There are various considerations for a Court to determine whether setting the settlement agreement aside is just and reasonable, which include:

  • The extent to which the need to seek an extension of time to bring the claim contributed to the settlement.
  • The circumstances in which the settlement agreement was negotiated.

The legislation does not allow an acceptance of a redress offer to be set aside. If a redress offer has been accepted, then this legislation is unable to assist a survivor to pursue a claim for further compensation. 

If you have resolved a compensation claim for childhood sex abuse or serious physical abuse against a church, school, institution or the South Australian Government, and would like to know if you are entitled to claim further compensation, fill out the form below to arrange a free, no obligation discussion with one of our experienced team of lawyers.

MKF Lawyers can accommodate your request for either a male or female lawyer to discuss setting aside a previous settlement agreement, and for that lawyer to then manage your claim until final resolution.  All information you provide is confidential.

National Redress Scheme payments for Institutional childhood sexual abuse

The National Redress Scheme (‘Redress Scheme') was established in 2018 as a means of providing redress (a financial payment, support for counselling and psychological services, and a direct personal response) to people who have suffered institutional child sexual abuse.

If an applicant accepts an Offer of Redress, then they will be unable to bring a civil claim against the institution.

Consequently, it is very important to get legal advice about the viability of a civil claim before making an application to the Redress Scheme.

Fill out the form to arrange a free, no obligation discussion with one of our experienced lawyers about what is best for you.  All information you provide is confidential.

MKF Lawyers has been recognised as a recommended public liability law firm (as voted by defendant lawyers and barristers) in Doyle's Guide 2023.


Personal Injury Lawyers Adelaide

Frequently Asked Questions

What information will I need to provide at my first discussion with a lawyer?

You will need to provide us with some basic information, such as what happened to you, when the abuse or assault happened, and who the perpetrator was (even if you can only provide a description).

We understand that engaging with the law and talking to a lawyer can be difficult, so if this is all the information you are comfortable providing us with at first, we can schedule a further discussion at a time that suits you. If you would find it easier to provide further details in writing, we are happy for you to do this.

Can I have a support person at a discussion with my lawyer?

We encourage our clients to have a support person present during discussions of legal matters with us if they think their assistance will be helpful. That support person should be someone you trust to keep the discussion confidential. The support person can be a friend or a relative.

How are legal fees charged?

We act on a no win, no fee basis for our legal service in most cases. No win, no fee means that payment of our legal fees is not required until your claim has resolved and compensation been paid.

The amount will be different in every case, but we will provide you with an individualised estimate following our first detailed communication.

The only time we wouldn't offer no win, no fee is when a client wants to pursue a claim where we think there are reasonable grounds to doubt whether a successful outcome can be achieved.

Will I have to see the perpetrator again?

If you sue the perpetrator personally, rather than an institution, a church or the Government, you may see the perpetrator again at legal proceedings, i.e. settlement conference, mediation, or court hearing. If it is necessary for the perpetrator to be present, you will not need to speak to them, and your legal representation will be with you during this time. You can also have a support person attend with you.

If you bring a claim against the Government, an institution or a church, you may not need to see the perpetrator again.

Does sexual abuse need to involve sexual intercourse for a claim to be made?

The cause of action (type of action being taken) in most sex abuse matters is either unlawful touching and/or intercourse, or negligence.

In either case, a claim can be brought for penetrative sexual abuse, genital touching, touching of the buttocks, kissing, or other sexual touching.

Does it matter that I haven’t reported the abuse to the police?

While a criminal conviction of the perpetrator is helpful evidence to prove that the alleged sexual abuse occurred, it is not necessary for there to be a conviction, police investigation or report to a police officer. If you have reported the sex abuse to the police or any other person, you should advise your lawyer of this, in case a record has been made of that reporting.

Will I be believed, even if I can’t remember everything?

While not all claims proceed to a trial hearing in court before a judge (in fact, few do), it is worthwhile considering the court standard of proof.

In recent decisions, courts have expressed an understanding that, over time, it can be very difficult for someone to remember all of the details and circumstances regarding sex abuse. However, as the person bringing the claim, the injured person bears the burden of proving his or her claim.

Consequently, the better the injured person’s memory of the sex abuse and the circumstances surrounding it, the better their prospect of meeting the requisite standard of proof.

Do I have to go to Court?

While it is possible that documents need to be filed in court to progress your claim, in our experience, very few claims in relation to childhood sex abuse proceed to a trial hearing in court. There is a small possibility that your claim will proceed to a trial hearing, but this is rare as very few are conducted for personal injury claims in South Australia.

Childhood Sexual and/or Physical Abuse