National Child Protection Week runs from 5 to 11 September 2021. It serves to remind us of the importance of preventing child abuse and neglect.

If children are not adequately protected then it can have devastating long term consequences for the child.

This was made clear in the Supreme Court of Queensland on 27 August 2021 when damages of $1,456,524.15 were awarded to a man to compensate him for childhood sexual abuse at the hands of his female English teacher.

Justice Ryan in Brockhurst v Rawlings [2021] QSC 217 accepted that 25 years ago, as a 13 and 14 year old schoolboy, the plaintiff’s female teacher had engaged in an intimate relationship with him that constituted sexual abuse.  As a 13-year-old or a 14-year-old, he was not capable of legally or voluntarily consenting to the sexual activities and therefore the tort called “battery” had occurred. Battery occurs when someone intentionally makes contact with another person in a harmful or offensive way.

Justice Ryan found that the plaintiff was a “credible and reliable witness, who gave a compelling account of his grooming and seduction by the defendant, without embellishment”. There was evidence of correspondence between the schoolboy and the teacher that showed an inappropriate relationship. There was also corroborating evidence of reports made to school staff about other schoolboys observing inappropriate closeness and physical contact between the plaintiff and the teacher.

The sexual abuse altered the course of the plaintiff’s life. It had a profound effect on his schooling, his relationships and his employment. Justice Ryan accepted “that the plaintiff suffered from the insidious and pervasive effects of the defendant’s sexual abuse” and would suffer the effects for the rest of his life.

The plaintiff was awarded the following damages:

  • $65,000 for General Damages (Pain, Suffering & loss of amenities of life)
  • $32,500 for 25 years of interest on General Damages
  • $613,292 for past economic loss
  • $376,070.65 for 15 years of interest on past economic loss
  • $64,599.00 for loss of past superannuation
  • $39,612.10 for 15 years of interest on the loss of past superannuation
  • $260,086.40 for future economic loss (30% reduction of earning capacity)
  • $36,614.00 for loss of future superannuation benefits
  • $10,000.00 for future treatment
  • $43,750.00 for aggravated damages
  • $15,000 for exemplary or punitive damages
  • An amount of $100,000 was reduced to set off part of the settlement he had previously received from the school.

Children (even older children) have the right to be protected by abuse and neglect. There can be serious consequences if harm occurs to a child.  The theme for 2021’s National Child Protection Week is  “Every child, in every community, needs a fair go”. We support this year’s theme which highlights that to treat all of Australia’s children fairly, we need to make sure every family and community has what kids need to thrive and be healthy.

If you need further information about compensation for childhood sexual or severe physical abuse, please contact our childhood sexual abuse lawyers here or on 1300 025 101.