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Access to offenders’ superannuation for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse

The Law Council was pleased to make a submission to the Treasury in response to its January 2023 discussion paper, Access to offenders’ superannuation for victims and survivors of child sexual abuse.

The Law Council welcomes appropriate measures to support victim-survivors of child sexual abuse. It supports the policy intent behind the reforms proposed in the Discussion Paper, namely, to prevent convicted perpetrators of child sexual abuse from hiding assets in their superannuation to defeat compensation claims made by victim-survivors. It also notes that the proposals are carefully limited to ensure that the fundamental purpose of superannuation is not undermined or compromised.

In the consultation timeframe provided, some members of the Law Council’s Constituent Bodies expressed concerns about the proposals and were not supportive of the reforms. Other members, while supportive of the proposals, were concerned they may create unintended consequences in their current form and have indicated a need for more nuance and clarity for some aspects of the proposals.

These are clearly matters where reasonable minds across the legal profession differ, given they engage multiple and complex aspects of legal practice, including criminal, civil litigation, family, taxation and bankruptcy. Many of the topics included in the Discussion Paper will require a separate and intensive consultation with experts in the relevant area of law. Nonetheless, a consistent theme in the feedback received is that the proposals be reconsidered to achieve the policy intent more precisely and to mitigate any unintended consequences.

The Law Council encourages further consultation which comprehensively considers the varied and complex topics in the Discussion Paper, and looks forward to continuing to engage with the Treasury as consideration of this significant reform progresses.

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