NGOs Commit to National Redress Scheme
Thursday, 31st May 2018 at 4:23 pm
The National Redress Scheme will now cover 80 per cent of child sex abuse survivors, after a number of NGOs committed to the scheme, including the Catholic and Anglican churches and the Salvation Army.
Scouts Australia, the Salvation Army, YMCA Australia and the Anglican Church all announced they would opt-in to the scheme on Thursday.
It follows the Catholic Church’s commitment to the scheme on Wednesday, which saw it become the first NGO to commit to the landmark initiative.
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said this commitment – combined with the support of all states and territories (except Western Australia) – meant 80 per cent of survivors were now covered.
In a joint statement, Tehan and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull applauded the commitment.
“The Turnbull government welcomes the announcement another four non-government institutions will join the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse,” they said.
“The governments and institutions that sign up accept the system failed every single person in Australia who suffered sexual abuse in an institution that was meant to protect them.
“Redress is not compensation, however it will acknowledge the hurt and harm suffered by the individual and ensure institutions take responsibility for the abuse that occurred on their watch, by their people.”
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan with representatives from the Scouts, the YMCA, the Anglican church and the Salvation Army who have signed up for the National Redress Scheme pic.twitter.com/AVma4fnlcY
— Alex Ellinghausen (@ellinghausen) May 31, 2018
The creation of a National Redress Scheme for child sex abuse survivors was a key recommendation 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 a direct personal response from the responsible institution if requested.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference (ACBC) and Catholic Religious Australia confirmed the Catholic Church’s participation in the scheme on Wednesday.
ACBC president Archbishop Mark Coleridge said the Catholic Church had supported the creation of a National Redress Scheme since 2013.
“We support the royal commission’s recommendation for a national redress scheme, administered by the Commonwealth, and we are keen to participate in it,” Coleridge said.
“Survivors deserve justice and healing and many have bravely come forward to tell their stories.”
Coleridge said given the diverse structure of the Catholic Church, officials had been working with the government to ensure the church can work effectively with the independent National Redress Scheme operator.
“To that end, we are establishing an agency to allow dioceses and religious congregations to interact with the scheme operator,” he said.
The Anglican Church’s commitment to the scheme will similarly include the creation of a central independent body to handle complaints across all levels of the organisation.
The Anglican Primate, Archbishop Philip Freier, said the church’s participation in the scheme was an important part of the healing process.
“We know that some survivors of abuse have chosen not to engage in our present institutional redress schemes. We hope that our participation in the independent National Redress Scheme will offer a further step to healing,” Freier said.
The Salvation Army also announced they would opt-in to the scheme.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse singled out the charity for its failure to respond appropriately to child sexual abuse victims in their care, which they labelled “appalling”.
However, in a statement released on Thursday, the Salvation Army said it acknowledged the work that had been done to create a “comprehensive national scheme to meet the needs of survivors”.
“The Salvation Army has worked constructively with the federal government’s task force in response to the royal commission’s recommendation and today reaffirms our commitment to the National Redress Scheme,” the statement said.
“While parliaments across Australia are yet to finalise their legislative work to enable the scheme, The Salvation Army will move to have its redress office operational as soon as practical after July 1, 2018.”
YMCA Australia said it was pleased to announce it would join the National Redress Scheme when it is scheduled to commence on 1 July 2018.
It also urged the Western Australian government and other NGOs to commit to the scheme.
“We urge the WA government to formally declare it will opt in to the scheme to give survivors the reassurance they will finally have a truly national redress scheme,” YMCA said in a statement.
“The establishment of the National Redress Scheme is a critical recommendation from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and we urge all non-government institutions across Australia to join with us and opt in to the scheme.”
YMCA Australia CEO Melinda Crole said everyone shared the responsibility for responding to survivors of child abuse.
“We can’t change the past for survivors, but we can change their future. An effective national redress scheme is critical for ensuring justice and healing for survivors,” Crole said.
National Scouts Australia coordinator, Neville Tomkins said at a press conference on Thursday that the Scouts were committed to the scheme and the needs of survivors.
“[The scheme has] provided Australia with the necessary framework to recognise the impact these horrific crimes have had on far too many young people,” Tomkins said.