26 Jul 2018

Dunedin man who was abused as a child in Australia fights for compo rights

11:36 am on 26 July 2018

A Dunedin sexual abuse survivor is fighting to change an Australian law preventing foreigners from seeking compensation.

A young boy sits in the corner with his head in his hands (file photo)

Photo: 123RF

Under the National Redress Scheme, Australian survivors of sexual abuse in state care can make claims, but non-residents can't.

However, it has not stopped Darryl Smith from contacting the leaders of New Zealand and Australia in a bid to change the scheme.

Earlier this week, he filed a statutory declaration and sent a letter urging Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to act.

"I didn't realise I had to be a resident of Australia to be raped," Mr Smith said.

"The Australian government has duty of care to all students who were in state care."

He was sexually abused while he was a state ward in Queensland and was abused while in New Zealand.

Mr Smith described his fight for support as "re-traumatising".

"It's actually so upsetting for me that I've had to go back to taking medication again for trauma," he said.

The scheme was created following recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

It is meant to acknowledge the abuse suffered by many children in Australian institutions, hold the guilty to account and help survivors gain support.

When asked whether the eligibility criteria would change, a Department of Social Services spokesperson said the scheme was developed in consultation with key stakeholders and survivors had to be Australian citizens or permanent residents at the time of application.

"People have always retained the option to pursue civil litigation."

Mr Smith said the redress had to be for all survivors of child sexual abuse.

"We don't want a stupid reply back saying that's because the Bill has been passed. A Bill can be changed at any time."

Mr Smith's fight has been backed by Male Survivors Aotearoa national advocate Ken Clearwater. He said it was unfair New Zealand abuse survivors could not seek the same compensation.

"It's a common occurrence that, for some reason, they haven't been able to access the redress."

Mr Smith has a message for the Australian and New Zealand prime ministers: "Wake up, help your survivors no matter which country they live in."

The scheme was officially opened for applications on 1 July.

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