• Catholic Clergy Abuse - General
    Catholic Clergy Abuse - General
    Dr Viv Waller has acted in claims against Catholic Clergy since 1995. Waller Legal has recovered compensation for the victims of Catholic Priests such as Frs Baker, Ridsdale, Kevin O'Donnell, D'Cruz, Gannon, Glennon, Gubbels, Frank Klep, Bernard Day & Pidoto.
  • Catholic Clergy Abuse - Melbourne Response
    Catholic Clergy Abuse - Melbourne Response
    Melbourne Response is an alternative dispute resolution process designed to provide redress to victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by priests, religious and lay persons who fall within the jurisdiction of the Melbourne Archdiocese.
  • Civil Litigation
    Civil Litigation
    Civil Litigation in the County And Supreme Courts of Victoria. In our pursuit of justice for sexual assault survivors Waller Legal has run common law cases for compensation against; Individual offenders such as family members, teachers, doctors, psychologists and religious figures;
  • Claims for Indigenous & Travel to Remote Communities
    Claims for Indigenous & Travel to Remote Communities
    If you have been the victim of a crime of violence or sexual assault then please contact our office so we may assess your application and obtain financial assistance, counselling, medical or other expenses that may help with your recovery.
  • Royal Commission & Redress Schemes
    Royal Commission & Redress Schemes
    Established in January 2013, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is investigating how institutions like schools, churches and sporting groups responded to allegations of child sexual abuse.
  • Sentencing Act Applications
    Sentencing Act Applications
    If you have been the victim of a crime for which the offender was convicted please contact our office urgently. Any Sentencing Act Application for compensation must be made within 12 months of the date of the conviction.
  • State Ward Claims
    State Ward Claims
    Dr Viv Waller has acted for former wards of the state of Victoria since 1997 when she commenced group litigation on behalf of many former residents of the Ballarat Orphanage who were abused in care.
  • Victim of Crimes Assistance Tribunal
    Victim of Crimes Assistance Tribunal
    If you have been the victim of a crime of violence or sexual assault then please contact our office so we may assess your application and obtain financial assistance, counselling, medical or other expenses that may help with your recovery.

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.
Church response to sex abuse falls short
Lawyer Vivian Waller. Photo: Susan Gordon
2015-11-23
by Samantha Walker - The Courier

A body representing the Catholic Church has released guidelines for how the church should respond to civil claims for child sexual abuse, which have received mixed reviews from a sexual abuse survivor and lawyer. 

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council published the guidelines yesterday, which aim to “promote justice and consistency” with the church’s handling of sexual abuse claims and litigation. They include that church authorities should pay “legitimate claims without litigation” and “assist a claimant to identify the correct defendant to respond to legal proceedings”.

Ballarat clergy abuse survivor, Andrew Collins, welcomed the guidelines but said they needed to go further to guarantee survivors could receive compensation from the church.

“I’m very pleased to see them (the church) standing up and taking this seriously, because litigation has been very hard to pursue in the past,” Mr Collins said.

 “One thing they need to do is to nominate an entity for survivors to sue.”

In the past the church has used a legal tactic known as the ‘Ellis Defence’ to avoid paying compensation to victims of sexual abuse.

It is based on a 2007 decision by the NSW Court of Appeal that found the church couldn’t be sued for compensation because it was not a legal entity.

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council has released statements in the past that “there will always be someone or thing to sue which will be backed by assets and or insurance”, however lawyer, Vivienne Waller, said this was not what she experienced in practice.

“There’s a great disparity between what they’re saying in this press release and what they’re doing on the ground in individual cases,” Dr Waller said. 

“The latest guidelines make no mention of ensuring there will be an entity available for victims to sue.”

Dr Waller said the use of the ‘Ellis Defence’ would impact upon the outcome of “hundreds” of her client’s cases.

“It’s helpful that they (the church) are willing to engage in alternative dispute resolution measures, but these guidelines leave open the possibility that there’s nobody there to sue,” she said.

The council’s chief executive officer, Francis Sullivan, said the new guidelines were “fairly closely aligned” with recommendations made by the Royal Commission into to Child Sexual Abuse.

“They’re a church-wide policy and a bishop will use these as a guide,” Mr Sullivan said.

“Any bishop would be hard-pressed not to follow them because they’ve been endorsed by church leaders.”

The bishop of Ballarat Paul Bird was unavailable for comment.

Back To Top
Call Waller Legal