National Redress Scheme or civil claim

Choosing whether to pursue a civil claim or a make an application to the National Redress Scheme (NRS) can be difficult.

knowmore can help you:

  • understand your options for compensation;
  • make a decision about which is the best choice for you;
  • make an application under the NRS; and
  • understand your costs agreement and explain what you might have to pay your civil lawyer if you choose to make a redress application instead of continuing with a civil claim.

For firsthand accounts of how knowmore can help please watch Debbie and Colleen’s stories below.

Read the video transciption

My story: Survivor Colleen Kelly

DESCRIPTION: On a grey background, the knowmore logo. Logo text, with the letters K and W in teal and the phrase “no more” in white: knowmore, free legal help for survivors. A woman in red sunglasses sits by a rocky shore and speaks to camera. Text: Colleen Kelly.

COLLEEN KELLY: I’m Colleen Kelly. I’m 73 years old, and I’m a joyous survivor.

DESCRIPTION: Beside a café, Colleen chats with a woman in a sunhat.

COLLEEN KELLY: I gave evidence at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. But they recommended that I go to knowmore and I worked with knowmore, but they then recommended me to another solicitor.

DESCRIPTION: White text on black: knowmore helped Colleen find a lawyer to pursue a claim for damages arising from her abuse as a child.

COLLEEN KELLY: He personally was very interested in this and would I be happy to work with them. And I liked the fact that he asked me, “Would I like to work with them”, rather than, “Yes, I’ll do it”. And we then spent the next three years trying to find an entity that we could hold accountable for the crimes that had been committed against me in that home. And we found an entity. They accepted responsibility and decided to work with us on seeking a resolution to the questions that I had and the needs that I had.

DESCRIPTION: Colleen walks down the stairs between two light blue buildings.

COLLEEN KELLY: When it came to picking the mediator, there was one I felt incredibly comfortable with. I felt, I trusted them. Even though I selected her, she was an independent person in that process, and her job was to be independent, and made sure that both sides had the opportunity to say what they needed to say and to be respected. I liked that. For me, my number one need was to hear somebody associated with that home that they were sorry that that had happened to me. The second thing what I’d like to do is to tell people that the joy you get out of taking responsibility for finding the solution that you need. Yes, lots of tears, lots of panic, lots of angst.

DESCRIPTION: Colleen brings her hands to her mouth in a gesture of anxiety.

COLLEEN KELLY: But the end of every phone call, when we moved a little bit closer, “Yes, we did it!”. And it was fantastic. Really, really good. So that’s very important, because that helps you heal.

DESCRIPTION: Colleen reads a document held in a plastic pocket.

COLLEEN KELLY: The third thing, you’ve learned to trust yourself again, and I had spent my whole life not trusting myself, because of what had happened to me. I trusted myself to make key important decisions that were going to affect me and, potentially, maybe hurt me or not, but I trusted myself. And that is enormous. I walk lighter in the world just because of that.

DESCRIPTION: White text on black: With knowmore’s help and guidance, Colleen found the strength and resilience to pursue options for redress.

COLLEEN KELLY: The day started with introductions, then me telling my story. That was incredibly emotional. Here I was for the first time facing the people that I’d waited 73 years. And when that happened, I knew they heard me, even though they made it very clear, “We were not involved”. And clearly when you looked at their age, you knew they weren’t there. But we accept full responsibility for the body that we are still part of. I understood that this was… they had been left a rotten egg, but boy, did they step up. They were fantastic. They asked questions about was there anything else that they could do to assist me, then I said to them, part of what I wanted to do when I left this room was that I wanted to use this experience, to be able to encourage others to use this process.

DESCRIPTION: White text on black: To receive free legal advice and support please contact us at 1800 605 762, knowmore.org.au.

Read the video transciption

My story: Survivor Debbie McFarlane

DESCRIPTION: On a grey background, the knowmore logo. Logo text, with the letters K and W in teal and the phrase “no more” in white: knowmore, free legal help for survivors. In a park, a woman walks on a boardwalk over a lake. She watches the ducks swimming in the water.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: I grew up from the age of seven mostly in care. My parents died and I was split up from my siblings. I am a Forgotten Australian. I am Aboriginal from the Bpangerang mob and another mob up in New South Wales. I’m a mother of three daughters, ten grandchildren, a great grandchild. I am a survivor of sexual assault.

DESCRIPTION: The woman sits on a low stone wall. Text: Debbie McFarlane. She sits in a house and speaks to camera.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: To get me through I’ve been, for the last nine years, admin on several Facebook groups with other people and that helps us. We support each other through Facebook.

DESCRIPTION: A montage of shots of the exterior of the brick house. A bumper sticker on the car outside reads: No Room for Racism, with a yellow map of Australia on top of the black and red background of the Australian Aboriginal flag.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: But day to day, my daughters, my grandchildren, that’s what life’s about.

DESCRIPTION: A woodblock-style decoration on a shelf reads: LOVE.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: We didn’t have photos in the children’s homes, and what photos I could… I’ve managed to scrape together over the last 45 years are faded or distorted. I want to get a program where we can start fixing the photos up. And photos mean a lot, something that says you existed, that you were there, that someone cared enough to take a photo of you. That there is a photo of you with your parents or with your siblings.

DESCRIPTION: The spine of a book reads: Our Family Album. Debbie sits on a couch and leafs through a photo album. White text on black: knowmore was established in 2013 to provide legal help to survivors like Debbie, whose experience informed the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: When the Royal Commission was completed, they put out notices about knowmore and the Redress. 12 years earlier I had gone civil, halfway through had to employ a lawyer. I’d also had to make five different statements to police officers about the five different abusers that had abused me and it was a hard process. And knowmore has got more knowledge. Before I went to knowmore, I… I had to re-go through my file, and it was hurting to go through that. But I knew I had to re-look at it.

DESCRIPTION: Debbie walks further along the boardwalk in the park.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: There was three sentences in my file that I was able to point knowmore to which they were able to use and which they did to my advantage. And that helped with my claim. It was a lot easier for me than when I did civil. Civil took me five years, redress took me less than a year. If you were sexually abused, in a type of institution, if you were touched in an inappropriate way, then you have a claim and don’t feel guilty.

DESCRIPTION: In the kitchen, Debbie makes a hot drink.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: The more that people know about this, the more it can be stopped, because this is going to add to a pile that is going to say to the world, these things happened and could still happen.

DESCRIPTION: White text on black: With knowmore’s assistance, Debbie received a payment through the National Redress Scheme. She will use some of these funds to purchase photo editing software that will help others recover their lost memories. She also plans to take her whole family on a holiday. To receive free legal advice and support please contact us at 1800 605 762, knowmore.org.au.