Legal Representation and Support for Survivors of Abuse by Religious Institutions


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Navigating the complex legal landscape following abuse in religious institutions can be an overwhelming experience. Survivors seeking justice and compensation need a dedicated ally who understands the intricacies of institutional abuse cases. This guide aims to provide comprehensive insights into legal avenues, support resources, and financial assistance options for survivors, ensuring they are equipped to pursue the justice they deserve.

Carbone Lawyers understand the profound impact that abuse in churches and other religious settings can have on individuals and communities. With many years of experience in providing legal support in Melbourne and throughout Victoria, our dedicated team is committed to advocating for the rights and dignity of survivors.

What Constitutes Abuse within Religious Institutions?

Abuse by religious institutions is a grievous violation that encompasses a range of wrongful acts committed by clergy and associated personnel. This abuse can manifest as:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
  • Sexual abuse, including clergy abuse compensation claims


In recent years, revelations such as the abuses of the Catholic Church have shed light on the systemic issues that have allowed such abuses to persist, underscoring the need for legal accountability and support for survivors.

How Does Suing a Religious Institution Work?

The Legal Identity of Defendants (Organisational Child Abuse) Act 2018 allows survivors to bring claims against unincorporated nongovernmental organisations, such as religious entities, that use trusts to carry out their activities. This essentially allows victims of child abuse to pursue legal action against these unincorporated organisations as if they were incorporated businesses at the time of the abuse. Because of this, survivors of church abuse now have various legal pathways to explore when seeking justice and compensation.

Support for Abuse Survivors

Victoria’s governmental and justice systems offer specific mechanisms to address the unique nature of institutional abuse cases. Understanding these options is crucial in determining the most appropriate course of action. If you’re unsure of how best to proceed with your case, contact our team for a free and confidential claim assessment.

Avenues for Justice in Institutional Abuse Cases

  1. Civil Claims: Survivors can pursue civil litigation against individuals or institutions responsible for the abuse. This process can be lengthy and complicated, having a seasoned legal partner will help you navigate this process and limit your interactions with the other parties involved.
  2. Criminal Prosecutions: In cases where the abuser can be criminally charged, survivors may be involved in the criminal justice process, although this path focuses on the perpetrator’s punishment rather than the survivor’s compensation.
  3. Redress Schemes: Government-established redress schemes provide survivors with an alternative to traditional legal proceedings, offering a streamlined process to seek acknowledgment and compensation including therapeutic costs and a lump sum payment.


Important Note: The National Redress Scheme is limited to instances of sexual abuse at participating institutions and accepting a redress offer under this scheme prohibits applicants from pursuing further compensation claims. Payment under this scheme is capped at a maximum of $150,000 whereas civil claims are not subject to the same limitations and apply to a broader range of abuses.

If you aren’t sure which avenue may apply to you or someone you know, we recommend speaking to the experienced legal team at Carbone Lawyers for empathetic and expert advice tailored to your circumstances. 

How Carbone Lawyers Can Help

Survivors do not have to navigate this journey alone. Various support organisations and legal professionals specialise in assisting those affected by institutional abuse. These resources provide emotional support, legal advice, and guidance through the complex legal landscape.

Why Choose Carbone Lawyers?

  • Expertise: Our seasoned church abuse lawyers specialise in handling complex cases related to institutional abuse.
  • Empathy: We offer a supportive and confidential environment, understanding the sensitivity of these cases.
  • No-win No-fee: Carbone Lawyers operates on a ‘No-win No-fee’ basis, meaning in most cases you can seek the justice you deserve without the burden of upfront fees.

Get in Touch

If you or someone you know has been affected by abuse in religious institutions, Carbone Lawyers is here to help. Our approach is defined by empathy, expertise, and a relentless pursuit of justice for our clients.

Contact us today for a confidential consultation. Let our team stand by your side and fight for the compensation and closure you deserve.

How can we help?