MS TIERNEY (Minister for Corrections) (17:38:24) — I thank everyone who has made a contribution so far in this debate and indeed thank all of those who participated in the Betrayal of Trust committee hearings as well as the royal commission. This bill closes the unfair legal loophole known as the ‘Ellis defence’, where a victim of child abuse has been unable to sue an organisation responsible for their abuse because that organisation is unincorporated and has no legal identity. Many religious organisations, schools and charities that work with Victorian children are unincorporated, instead conducting their activities through complex trust structures. This problem has stopped many child abuse victims from being able to sue organisations which knew about their abuse and their abuser but did nothing or, in the worst cases, closed ranks.
Victims and their families, the Victorian Parliament and the royal commission told us we needed to fix the Ellis defence, and we are doing so. Closing this loophole builds on the laws the government passed in 2017, which established a clear statutory duty of care for organisations that deal with children to protect them from abuse, and laws the government passed in 2015 to remove statutory time limitations for child abuse cases. The government pays tribute to the work of victims, their lawyers, friends and family, who have worked so hard and at such personal cost to get us to this point. All victims and survivors should have the chance to get the justice and compensation they deserve, and we hope this bill will receive the support of all parties and pass quickly.
Motion agreed to.
Read second time.