Canberra law firm seeking increased damages for abuse victims

A CANBERRA-based legal firm is calling for Bathurst victims who alleged child abuse at the hands of Vincentian priests to come forward with the view of bringing a new case for damages.

The Ken Cush and Associates firm of barristers and solicitors placed a public notice in the Sydney Morning Herald on Saturday calling for victims to make contact.

They also want to hear from victims who made a claim against the Congregation of the Mission and those who have signed a previous settlement.

The Vincentian order founded St Stanislaus’ College in Bathurst, where it has since been revealed at least 160 students were sexually abused by former staff and priests, resulting in a decade-long investigation by police - the largest of its type in Australia - and 10 convictions.

Principal solicitor Mark Barrow confirmed the firm was bringing a case – unrelated to St Stanislaus’ - for proper and increased damages after a client had been paid out just $65,000 in a settlement for being sexually abused as a child by three Vincentian fathers.

Mr Barrow said he believed other victims were in similar circumstances, especially those who settled too quickly, and encouraged them to seek legal advice.

“I believe there may be many other victims where the settlement for the abuse resulted in very small amounts which are simply not fair and just,” he said.

“You can’t whitewash redress. I suggest it is only reasonable that causes of action for child abuse be fairly dealt with by the Congregation of the Mission for all the loss and suffering and we are proceeding to ensure this occurs.”

Conceding there may be barriers to overcome, Mr Barrow said each case was different and would be looked at on individual facts.

“We would look at things like did they receive a proper sum in relation to their personal circumstances and were they in a position to make an informed decision.”

Mr Barrow urged victims paid out less than $100,000 to seek legal advice.

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