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NSW Government Guiding Principles for Government Agencies Responding to Civil Claims For Child Sexual Abuse

Premier's Memorandum M2016-03

The Premier has issued Premier's Memorandum M2016-03-Model Litigant Policy for Civil Litigation and Guiding Principles for Civil Claims for Child Abuse.

This Memorandum sets out the Model Litigant Policy for Civil Litigation (the Model Litigant Policy​), which provides principles for maintaining proper standards in litigation and the provision of legal services in NSW. The Memorandum also incorporates the NSW Guiding Principles for Government Agencies Responding to Civil Claims for Child Abuse (the Guiding Principles). ​

The Model Litigant Policy and the Guiding Principles can be accessed at PM2016-03 Model Litigant Policy for Civil Litigation and Guiding Principles for Civil Claims for Child Abuse.

​Background on Guiding Principles

Attorney General Brad Hazzard and Minister for Family and Community Services Gabrielle Upton announced a suite of measures to help support survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. The initiatives are the first step in responding to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The media release is now available. 

On 3 November 2014, the NSW Government released 18 Guiding Principles for Government Agencies on how to respond to civil claims for child sexual abuse. These Principles only relate to civil claims for sexual abuse of a child. Claims will be finalised as quickly as possible and agencies will be guided by the understanding that litigation can be a traumatic experience. State agencies will not generally raise the passage of time as a defence or reason not to allow a claim.

The main objective of the Guiding Principles are as follows:

  • The ​​Guiding Principles will make litigation a less traumatic experience for victims and ensure a compassionate and consistent approach across NSW Government when dealing with civil claims for child sex abuse.
  • The Principles acknowledge that an adversarial civil litigation system is not an effective way of dealing sensitively or compassionately with survivors of sexual abuse.
  • These principles will promote cultural change across NSW Government agencies. This includes specialist training for lawyers who deal with child sexual assault matters promoting greater understanding of the difficulties of these cases for victims.
  • The Principles include that all claims will be finalised as quickly as possible, with the majority of claims to be resolved within two years and State agencies will endeavour to agree to a single expert, which should reduce the necessity of plaintiffs having to repeat painful experiences to multiple people.

View a copy of the Guiding Principles ​[PDF, 95Kb]