Urgent bill introduced to remove statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse

A former local has breathed a sigh of relief after a bill to remove restrictions on reporting childhood sexual abuse was introduced to parliament as an urgent item.

If passed, the bill would allow victims of child sex abuse to sue for compensation without having to report the incident within six years.

Kirsty McPharlin-Pratt has been sitting in the lower house every day since October said she confirmed with the Attorney General’s office this week that the bill would be brought in as urgent.

“Because everybody is, as far as we know, behind this concept we’ve got the sort of bipartisan support to treat it as urgent,” she said.

“When a bill is declared urgent you can waive that 21 day period but obviously the AG [Attorney General] is very keen to make sure that doesn’t mean rushing it, making sure the opposition is full briefed.”

Ms Pratt said it was unlikely the bill to remove the statute of limitations would be passed through the lower house this year as this was the last week of sitting in parliament

“That is still excellent news because it means that we can start that debate process and when parliament starts again in February next year we’re already part way through that process,” she said.

Ms Pratt said it was a relief to see the bill introduced but she would not be celebrating until it was officially passed.

“I think because of that roller coaster ride that we’ve been through already with a similar bill last year (Dr Graham Jacob’s private members bill), I probably seem like I’m playing it a lot cooler but I’m not prepared for that devastation to occur again,” she said.

“I’ll celebrate when it’s law and that’s why I haven’t taken my foot off the pedal.

“I’ve still kept up my attendance in the public gallery and I’ll finish off the year in the lower house just to remind everyone that this is still a priority and that it’s still important.”

Ms Pratt said she would then attend the upper house sittings until the bill was hopefully passed through there.

A year ago she dyed her hair in support of the Blue Knot Foundation, something that also helps her stand out during sittings.

Ms Pratt was part of a group of local survivors who gave a statement to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in October 2013 regarding incidents in Condingup.