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‘Revolutionary’ legal reform to give ‘ripped off’ child sex abuse survivors a chance to sue

The Victorian government has announced it will lower the bar on the circumstances under which courts can overturn compensation payouts for survivors of child abuse.

The change will pave the way for thousands of child sex abuse victims to ask the courts to overturn unfair compensation payouts.

Michael Magazanik, from Rightside Legal, says the law change will be “revolutionary” for survivors of child sex abuse.

“There is a tragic history … of survivors of childhood sexual abuse having salt poured onto their wounds by being legally ripped off,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“There have been a heap of legal impediments in their way and churches especially, but not just churches, have taken advantage of that by foisting miserable, small, insulting settlement sums on them, and then insisting they sign deeds giving up their legal rights.”

Catholic church child sex abuse victim, Phil Nagle, said today is “a great day”.

Mr Nagle said he was bullied into signing deeds granting him just $26,000 compensation.

“They made it very clear to me that there was no other option,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“I very much felt bullied into it.”

Mr Magazanik says the impending law chance will have a “real effect and will lead to real justice for thousands of people”.

Western Australia introduced the same legislation in mid-2018, and many child abuse victims have already has meagre compensation payments overturned.

“There was a really difficult legal road ahead for survivors prior to this law … but the new law makes it much easier. All we have to do now is persuade a judge that it would be just and reasonable to overturn those deeds,” Mr Magazanik said.