NSW Character Assassination - False Allegations About Grooming a Minor

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7 October 2014
I work in the Child Welfare (child protection) and have recently heard a taped conversation of someone saying that I have "Groomed a Minor. Also that my relationship with the minor is like the movie "Mrs Robinson". What can I legally do about this person? Your help in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Dear Jocelyn,

This obviously has the potential to be extremely damaging to your reputation. You may have grounds to claim defamation. In NSW defamation is regulated by common law and the Defamation Act 2005.

In order to establish defamation you need to prove to a court that:
  1. some statement was communicated by someone (the defendant) to a third person (other than you)
  2. the statement was clearly made about you - i.e. you were identified in the communication; and
  3. the content of the statement was defamatory, i.e. injures your reputation, causes others to avoid, ridicule shun or hate you or lowers you in the estimation of others.
To bring an action in defamation you do not need to prove to the court that you have suffered damage, and it only requires that the defamatory statement be made or "published" to one other person.

However, there are a long list of defences to an action in defamation, which include justification, substantial truth, fair report of proceedings of public concern, honest opinion, innocent dissemination and triviality. So obviously you would want to seek proper legal advice prior to launching into litigation. Here is a link to a useful fact sheet published by a Queensland based organisation - the law is substantially the same in all states: http://www.qpilch.org.au/resources/factsheets/defamation.htm