Cathy Kezelman
Cathy Kezelman

$40m paid to school sex assault survivors

Almost $40m in compensation has been paid to student sexual assault victims in the past 20 years.

Department of Education data obtained by The Daily Telegraph revealed sexual assault compensation payouts ballooned in recent years.

Up to $9m was paid out to survivors in a single year, the data obtained under freedom of information from the department's insurer icare revealed.

The bulk of the compensation was for historical sexual assaults which happened before 1989, where over $30.6m worth of compensation was paid to 131 sexual abuse survivors out of state government reserves.

A Department of Education spokesman said the spike in compensation claims since 2016 was because laws enforcing time limits on child sexual abuse being reported were abolished then.

 

Dr Cathy Kezelman of the Blue Knot Foundation says payouts help victims get acknowledgement of their abuse. Picture: Damien Shaw
Dr Cathy Kezelman of the Blue Knot Foundation says payouts help victims get acknowledgement of their abuse. Picture: Damien Shaw

 

"We apologise sincerely and unreservedly to these survivors of sexual abuse," the spokesman said.

Survivors of historic abuse received $4.4m in 2016.

The highest total of compensation came in 2019 when $9.4m was paid to 40 survivors who were assaulted between 1966 and 1989.

Compensation totalling $8.2m was paid to 46 victims last year.

President of child abuse survivor organisation The Blue Knot Foundation Dr Cathy Kezelman said compensation payouts gave youth sexual assault victims "acknowledgment" of their trauma.

"Compensation does not make up for a childhood betrayed but it can be an acknowledgment of the crime committed," Dr Kezelman said.

Another $8.4m worth of more recent sexual assault claims were paid where 60 sexual assault victims abused after 1989 received payments on the department's behalf in the past 20 years.

The revelations come after more than 3000 Australian current and ex-students gave testimonies of rape in a petition started by ex-Kambala School student Chanel Contos.

 

Clinical psychologist, Dr Rose Cantali says the Brittany Higgins case has encouraged people to speak out. Picture: Justin Lloyd
Clinical psychologist, Dr Rose Cantali says the Brittany Higgins case has encouraged people to speak out. Picture: Justin Lloyd

 

Clinical psychologist Rose Cantali said the MeToo movement and ex-federal parliament staffer Brittany Higgins' choice to go public with rape allegations at work "encouraged" historic victims of sexual abuse to finally speak out.

"People are more understanding now," Ms Cantali said.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said reports of students' rapes at Sydney schools were "very distressing". "I admire the (students') bravery." she said.

 

 

Originally published as $40m paid to school sex assault survivors


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