Organisations named and shamed for refusing to join National Redress Scheme
1 July 2020 at 5:59 pm
“It is devastating to see that there are still institutions which fail to adequately acknowledge the devastation reaped on victims of child sexual abuse and be truly accountable,” one victims’ advocate said.
The federal government has named the six institutions that failed to sign up to the National Redress Scheme for child sexual abuse survivors, as it investigates options to revoke tax concessions such as charitable status.
Australian Air League, Boys’ Brigade NSW, Fairbridge Restored Limited, Lakes Entrance Pony Club, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Kenja Communications did not sign up by the 30 June deadline, meaning 55 applications from institutional abuse survivors are unable to be processed.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said these six institutions would now be ineligible to apply for any future Commonwealth funding and noted the government was investigating options to revoke tax concessions including charitable status.
“It is completely unacceptable that these institutions have failed to meet their moral obligation to join the National Redress Scheme,” Ruston said.
“These are institutions which know they have been named in applications and yet they have chosen to shirk their responsibility to finally do the right thing by these survivors.
Ruston said she will discuss what actions state and territory governments can take against these institutions and how they can best support survivors at the next meeting of the Redress Governance Board on 8 July.
The National Redress Scheme offers eligible abuse survivors a redress payment of up to $150,000, access to psychological counselling, and a direct personal response – such as an apology – from the responsible institution.
The Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and 224 non-government institutions are participating in the scheme, which covers more than 51,000 sites such as churches, schools, charities and community groups across Australia.
Another 156 institutions have committed to sign up.
Speaking to 2GB earlier this week about organisations failing to join the scheme, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that he was “prepared to consider [revoking] their charitable status”.
A spokesperson for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission – which has the power to revoke charitable status – told Pro Bono News that revocation was dependent on a charity’s failure to comply with relevant legislation or policies.
“We make each decision based on the charity’s individual circumstances and its failure to comply in line with our legislation and policies. The secrecy provisions of the ACNC Act prevent us from commenting on whether it is or will investigate a particular charity.”
Organisations slammed for failure to sign up
Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, president of the Blue Knot Foundation National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma, said it was shocking to see organisations refusing to join the scheme.
“It is devastating to see that there are still institutions which fail to adequately acknowledge the devastation reaped on victims of child sexual abuse and be truly accountable,” Kezelman said.
“Not joining the scheme is utterly indefensible and institutions failing to do so must be sanctioned as the shame that victims so often carry sits squarely with them.”
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert has also slammed the organisations failing to sign up for redress.
She said she agreed with the institutions being named and shamed by the government.
“The Greens also support the revoking of tax concessions and charity status for organisations who choose not to participate in the scheme and deny justice for survivors,” Siewert said.
“It is not up to individual organisations to judge for themselves the validity of joining the scheme, survivors have been put through enough and these organisations need to sign up and deliver redress as soon as possible.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses has argued it does not have the “institutional settings” necessary to be a part of the redress scheme.
Spokesperson Tom Pecipajkovski told the ABC it would respond directly to individual claims.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses understand that, to date, there have been less than 10 applicants to the redress scheme who have referred to the religion of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” Pecipajkovski said.
“Jehovah’s Witnesses have responded and will continue to respond directly to individual claims for redress in a caring, fair, and principled manner, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of each claim.”
If this story brought up any issues for you, please call Lifeline of 13 11 14.