Govt to Lead Institutional Child Sex Abuse Compensation Plan
29 January 2016 at 1:54 pm
The Federal Government has announced it will develop a national approach to redress for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, including financial compensation.
In a joint statement, Attorney-General George Brandis and Social Services Minister Christian Porter said that both governments and non-government institutions should take responsibility for the wrongs committed under their care.
They said that, while the redress process would be carried out in the jurisdiction the abuse occurred, it was important that all governments committed to core principles and processes for assessment and compensation.
The government said it would soon commence negotiations with the states and territories to develop a nationally consistent framework to ensure that survivors from offending institutions all received proper redress, irrespective of the location of the institution at the time of the abuse, or its present status.
“The Government recognises the importance of developing a national approach to redress as quickly as possible. Survivors want redress to assist with the healing process,” the statement said.
“The Commonwealth will work with its state and territory counterparts to help secure justice for the survivors of these heinous crimes.”
The announcement followed recommendations from the Redress and Civil Litigation report, which came out of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and said redress should provide recognition for the survivor, not protect the institution’s interests.
The Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council (TJHC) welcomed today’s announcement but said it was “disappointing” that the government had not already made progress on the framework.
“What is disappointing, however, is that the Commonwealth isn’t further down the track,” CEO of the TJHC, Francis Sullivan, said.
“This is, at best, a tentative start to what has been a very long wait for child sexual abuse survivors.
“The Commonwealth and the states have had Commissioner McClellan’s recommendations on redress for many months and I think survivors could have expected a bit more from today’s statement from Attorney General Brandis and the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter.
“Despite the lack of detail and the delays, it is good news that a process, driven by the Commonwealth, is now in place and survivors can expect something soon.”
Sullivan said that government cooperation and accountability would be essential in securing adequate compensation for survivors as part of the healing process.
“What will be important is that the relevant ministers in each government take direct responsibility for their state’s response to the process,” he said.
“It cannot be left to bureaucrats and treasury officials to decide how, as a nation, we provide redress to victims of child sexual abuse.
“They, like representatives from so many other institutions including the Catholic Church, will have vested interests in keeping costs down and will be institutionally protective.
“This is the very issue that led to the crisis of institutional child sexual abuse in the first place.”