Victoria and NSW Commit to Child Sexual Abuse Redress Scheme
9 March 2018 at 4:39 pm
Churches, charities and other non-government institutions have been urged to join the national child sexual abuse redress scheme, after New South Wales and Victoria became the first states to opt-in to the scheme.
Legislation to establish a Commonwealth redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse was introduced in October last year, based on recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The scheme offers eligible abuse survivors a redress payment of up to $150,000, access to psychological counselling, and – if requested – a direct personal response from the responsible institution.
On Friday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, announced that Victoria and NSW were committing to the scheme.
“NSW and Victoria will be the first states to opt into the scheme which is vital to acknowledging the suffering of survivors of abuse and supporting them on their journey to recovery,” Berejiklian said.
“It’s unacceptable so many children were sexually abused in an environment where they were entitled to feel safe. Redress is an important part of recognising the lifelong impact of child abuse on survivors, many of whom carry the scars decades after the abuse occurred.
“NSW has driven the development of the national redress scheme hand in hand with the Commonwealth and Victorian governments to ensure survivors secure recognition and support with the least possible delay and fuss.”
Andrews said he hoped the scheme would give victims the “acknowledgement and dignity” they deserved.
“We can never erase the terrible harm caused to so many innocent people, but a national redress scheme may finally give survivors of institutional child sexual abuse the acknowledgement and dignity they have long fought for and deserve,” Andrews said.
“Victoria wants to ensure that survivors are respected, that their pain and suffering is recognised, and that they get the support they need.
“We acknowledge that the scheme does not contain every element that every survivor of abuse may wish to see in it, however this is a ground-breaking agreement which will benefit thousands of people.”
Turnbull said the involvement of these states meant more than 9,000 sexual abuse victims from NSW institutions and 5,000 abuse victims from Victorian institutions would have access to the national scheme.
The prime minister urged churches, charities and other non-government institutions to join the scheme, as well as the other states and territories.
“[This will] pave the way for churches, charities and other non-government institutions in both states to join the scheme, which would include a further 20,000 people who were abused in those institutions,” Turnbull said.
“Now, we are encouraging the other states and territories to opt in to the national scheme. We also expect the other institutions, churches and others to sign up to the scheme.
“The goal of the scheme is to get everyone on board so there is a national redress scheme and nobody is left out of access to this redress.”
The Truth Justice and Healing Council (TJHC), which is coordinating the Catholic Church’s response to the royal commission, has also urged other states and territories to join the scheme, as well as non-government institutions.
TJHC CEO Francis Sullivan said that Catholic leaders were on the record saying they would join the scheme.
“[Friday’s] announcement paves the way for non-government organisations in NSW and Victoria to join the scheme,” Sullivan said.
“This would include Catholic dioceses and other Catholic Church organisations in NSW and Victoria providing access for survivors abused in Catholic institutions in these states to seek redress.
“And while church leaders are yet to see the exact details of how the scheme will work, there has been widespread in-principle support from church authorities.”
Labor said they welcomed the announcement that Victoria and NSW were joining the redress scheme.
In a joint statement, Labor shadow ministers Jenny Macklin and Mark Dreyfus said all states, territories and institutions needed to get on board.
“There is no excuse for any state government, church, institution or non-government organisation not to join, and we urge all states and institutions to sign up to the scheme as soon as possible,” they said.
“We strongly encourage the Turnbull government to increase the maximum compensation amount to survivors to $200,000, as was recommended by the royal commission.
“Currently the legislation before the Parliament proposes a maximum payment of $150,000 to survivors.”
If all states and institutions across Australia opt in to the scheme, it could provide redress to about 60,000 people.
If the legislation passes, the redress scheme is expected to commence on 1 July 2018.