SA abuse victims push for compensation
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By Rebecca Brice
March 7, 2009 / ABC News
Up to 140 victims of child sexual abuse have begun a push for South Australian Government compensation through the courts.
The victims, who gave evidence in the Mullighan Inquiry, are filing civil damages claims for the suffering they endured while in state care.
It is almost a year since Commissioner Ted Mullighan handed down his report into the abuse of state wards.
The document detailed acts of violence and sexual depravity against generations of children in state institutions or in foster care.
The victims have since received an apology from the Government, and now they want compensation.
"We've had to relive our story a hundred-fold since this whole inquiry cut open all of our wounds," said one.
The Government has referred former wards to the Victims Of Crime levy, which caps payouts at $50,000.
That amount is not enough according to many of the victims.
Up to 140 civil claims are being filed, not a class action, but individual cases, with some seeking up to $400,000.
Victims' lawyer Peter Humphries says the claims are only possible now because the Mullighan Inquiry uncovered previously unavailable Government reports detailing the abuse.
"Now that it's there we are able to rely on that of course as evidence, of knowledge on the part of the state that this behaviour was occurring," he said.
"Hopefully a lot of these claims will settle, I would like to think that they will."
The claims have to be filed by the first anniversary of Commissioner Mullighan's findings later this month.
The Government has set up a taskforce to review different compensation schemes operating interstate, but a spokeswoman says the Government stands by its assertion that payouts are available through the Victims Of Crime scheme.