Two sisters who sued the state of New South Wales for failing to protect them from their abusive stepfather have been awarded almost $1.5 million in damages after an eight-year battle for compensation.
The payout marks the end of a long legal battle for the sisters, which began in 2008 when they sued the state and their former community services case worker for negligence in the NSW Supreme Court.
They claimed that despite knowing about the abuse and documenting their complaints, both the Department of Community Services (DOCS) and the officer did not report it to the police. They alleged that had the abuse been reported, they would have been protected from further abuse.
The former case worker, Carolyn Quinn, is now a high-profile child protection consultant and a former member of the NSW Carers Advisory Council.
Last year, the sisters lost their initial claim, with Justice Stephen Campbell ruling that while the department had failed in its duty of care to report the abuse, he did not accept that the abuse continued after DOCS was first notified in 1983.
Justice Campbell ruled Ms Quinn did not owe the girls a duty of care and even if she had, she had fulfilled that duty by reporting the abuse to her superiors.
But on Wednesday, the NSW Court of Appeal overturned the decision and awarded TB $940,000 and DC $540,000. The findings on Ms Quinn were not challenged and she was not part of the appeal.
The court held the “shocking” abuse of the girls did continue after it was reported to DOCS.