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Media

Dr Vivian Waller is a solicitor and the principal of Waller Legal, a legal practice dedicated to looking after victims of crime and those who have endured sexual assault or child abuse. She was admitted to legal practice in 1995 and has represented victim/survivors of sexual assault for nearly 20 years.
Alleged rape victim can sue Clark
Geoff Clark court
2006-07-20
by Jewel Topsfield - The Age

A woman allegedly raped by Aboriginal leader Geoff Clark in 1971 is "over the moon" at a High Court ruling that will allow her to seek compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder.

The case has significant implications for those seeking compensation for post-traumatic stress disorder where the trauma, alleged or otherwise, occurred many years earlier.

A Victorian statute of limitations prevents legal action being taken more than six years after an injury is suffered.

The High Court today held Carol Anne Stingel was within the legal time limit in which to bring civil action when she sued Mr Clark for post-traumatic stress in 2000 over alleged rapes in 1971.

Ms Stingel, 51, alleges she was assaulted and raped by Mr Clark on two occasions in March and April 1971, first at Warrnambool Municipal Gardens and then at a nearby beach.

In May last year, the Victorian Court of Appeal refused Ms Stingel permission to sue Mr Clarke, saying the six-year legal time limit in which to bring civil action had expired. However, Ms Stingel alleges that she only developed the disorder in 1999 or 2000, after she saw media reports about Mr Clark's appointment to chair ATSIC.

She was granted special leave to appeal the ruling in the High Court and the High Court allowed the case today by a 5-2 majority.

In a statement Ms Stingel said the court's decision was not only a win for her but a win for all those suffering psychological injuries striving to access justice.

"Personally I am over the moon,'' she said.

"It has been a long hard struggle but my belief in the power of the truth has kept me going.''

Outside the Commonwealth Law Courts in Melbourne, Ms Stingel's lawyer, Dr Viv Waller said the decision was a ``significant legal precedent''.

She said it would have wider implications on other cases, including those involving former naval personnel suffering post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the collision of the HMAS Melbourne and HMAS Voyager in February 1964.

"All of the claims have been hanging in the balance, and this decision of the High Court today confirms that those claims also will be able to proceed, and those men will get the opportunity to have their allegations heard,'' she said.



theage.com.au, with Orietta Guerrera

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