We recently took instructions from a client who was detained as an inmate at a juvenile detention facility for girls in Sydney western suburbs in the 1970’s. Whilst taking instructions, it quickly became apparent that our client was subjected to prolonged abuse while in custody.
We commenced the difficult task of holding several lengthy client conferences. In doing so we were able to obtain sufficient detail to determine that our client had a strong basis for a claim against the State of New South Wales (“the State”) pursuant to the Crown Proceedings Act 1988 (“the Act”).
The Act allows for eligible plaintiffs to bring civil proceedings against the State of New South Wales in any competent Court. The argument we advanced was that the State was vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of employees at the facility. This was strategic, because the individual proponents were most likely no longer alive, or otherwise in a position to pay any award of damages, whereas the State itself (who employed them) has deep pockets. The argument was sufficiently premised on the leading High Court authority of Prince Alfred College Incorporated v ADC  HCA 37 wherein it was determined at  that “Where, in such circumstances, the employee takes advantage of his or her position with respect to the victim, that may suffice to determine that the wrongful act should be regarded as committed in the course or scope of employment and as such render the employer vicariously liable”.
In collating relevant information to our client’s claim, we undertook research into the historical institutional child abuse, particularly the events at this specific detention facility. We had the benefit of reviewing the reports submitted as a part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which concluded in 2017. We noted that the harrowing experiences detailed within the reports sadly aligned with the traumatic experiences that our client endured during time in custody at the facility.
Having collated extensive evidence from our client, we proceeded to file a claim in the Common Law division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. At the first Directions Hearing we successfully obtained a mediation date, in the hope that a suitable resolution could be achieved without the need for our client to endure a full hearing and the difficulties inherent to being cross examined.
Following extensive preparation, including obtaining both our client’s medical history and multiple expert reports, we filed a compelling and comprehensive Evidentiary Statement. We subsequently attended mediation. At the mediation we were able to obtain a life changing financial settlement for our client, together with a written and in-person apology from an appropriate person within the Government.
Obtaining this outcome has allowed our client a degree of closure. Although nothing can undo the events that transpired, or the horrible treatment that was suffered, the financial settlement will dramatically improve the living conditions of our client, and the meaningful apology brings with it an acknowledgement that what occurred was not and will never be okay.
Here at Green & Associates we take pride in obtaining life changing results for our clients. We have extensive experience in dealing with matters where our clients have been subjected to abusive behaviour. If you have been subjected to institutional abuse, please do not hesitate to contact our Firm on (02) 8080 7585 for a free consultation to discuss what options you have.