NSW would be the only state where there would be no discretion to accept late compensation claims from child abuse victims, if changes to its victims compensation scheme pass State Parliament’s upper house.
This is despite NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell’s assurances that time frames for lodging ‘‘recognition payment’’ claims would remain the most generous here compared with other jurisdictions, despite the introduction of a new 10-year limit.
The overhaul of the scheme, which the government says is unsustainable, would impose 10-year limits on sexual assault and domestic violence victims to make claims concerning crimes committed in NSW.
Child sexual-abuse victims would have 10 years after they turn 18 to lodge claims.
The bill has been introduced to the lower house and could go as soon as this week to the state’s upper house, where it is expected to be opposed by the Greens and Labor.
The government has yet to brief the crossbench, the Christian Democratic Party and the Shooters and Fishers Party MPs, who share the balance of power.
‘‘Every scheme in the country has a limit upon it and I’m advised that our limit is the longest – most other schemes are limited to two to three years,’’ Mr O’Farrell has repeatedly said.
However, Greens MP David Shoebridge said other states still had the discretion to accept late claims, which couldn’t happen in NSW under the changes.
In Queensland, where the time limit for claims is three years, an extension can be given depending on the victim’s age at the time of the crime, the psychological effect, and whether the crime was perpetrated by someone in a ‘‘position of power’’.
In another blow for victims, Legal Aid NSW has said it won’t fund civil cases for abuse suffered within institutions, given budget restrictions and its expectation that a great many people would come forward in response to the national Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.
Legal Aid NSW chief executive Bill Grant said the federal government had funded a national legal advisory service in relation to the royal commission.
The Premier’s office referred inquiries to a spokeswoman for Attorney-General Greg Smith, who said Legal Aid ‘‘is an independent agency which makes its own budget decisions, and seeks to focus its funding on its core work’’.