Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University
The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse noted opposition to ‘legalism’ and ‘extensive involvement of lawyers’ as it developed its redress framework. However, survivors may benefit from legal assistance in navigating Australia’s complex National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse (NRS). Free legal advice is available from the scheme’s legal service, knowmore; survivors can also retain private sector lawyers. Lawyers play an influential role in the NRS: advising clients about their legal rights and options, drafting redress applications, and acting as advocates in scheme reform. Although many legal practitioners will assist institutional abuse survivors in a highly professional and ethical manner, some will not. Drawing from what occurred in two other redress schemes with substantial levels of legal involvement: Ireland’s Residential Institutions Redress Board (RIRB) and Canada’s Indian Residential School Independent Assessment Process (IRS-IAP), this paper discusses problems of legal misconduct in redress schemes associated with institutional abuse of children. In doing so, it examines what good lawyers can do for redress processes, and the need to impose safeguards against bad legal actors.
Juliet Davis is a Research Fellow in the Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University (Brisbane). She holds an LLB from the University of Queensland and master’s degrees with distinction in International and World History from Columbia University and the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her current research centres on developments in redress for institutional abuse, both in Australia and internationally. Her socio-legal research builds upon her professional experience as a legal practitioner.