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National Redress Scheme Update

The National Redress Scheme (the Scheme) was established by the Government in response to recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. 

 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse listened to thousands of people about the abuse they experienced as children. The abuse happened in orphanages, Children’s Homes, schools, churches and other religious organisations, sports clubs, hospitals, foster care and other institutions.

 

Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse can apply for redress through the Scheme. 

 

Redress involves three components, and survivors can choose to access any or all of these things:

 

1.     counselling

2.     a Redress payment (ranging from less than $10,000 through to $150,000) and

3.     a direct personal response from an institution (e.g. an apology).

 

As at 26 June 2020, the Scheme has received a total of 7,261 applications, 2,693 payments have been made totalling more than $220.9 million and 612 further redress offers are awaiting an applicant’s decision. 

 

If an institution has not joined the Scheme, then the people abused in its care cannot access redress in respect of that institution through the Scheme until such time as that institution joins the Scheme.

 

The Australian Government expects every institution in which the sexual abuse of children occurred to be accountable for that abuse and join the National Redress Scheme (the Scheme) and provide redress.

 

Ultimately the decision to join the Scheme is a decision for the institution. This is their responsibility. But this Government believes organisations, especially ones that have been named in applications, have a moral obligation to survivors to join the Scheme and provide them with the redress they so justly deserve.

 

When the National Redress Scheme was established on 1 July 2018 institutions were given two years to join – that deadline being 30 June 2020. On 30 June 2020, six institutions that have declined to submit a clear written statement by 30 June 2020 setting out their intention to join the Scheme by no later than 31 December 2021 are being publicly identified. 

 

See the list here: https://www.nationalredress.gov.au/institutions/institutions-have-not-yet-joined

 

These are institutions which know they have been named in applications or in the Royal Commission and yet they have chosen to shirk their moral responsibility to finally do the right thing by these survivors. They should be ashamed.

 

These institutions will be ineligible to receive future Commonwealth funding and the Government is considering other actions including, where applicable, the appropriateness of institutions retaining charitable status.  

 

Naming institutions provides transparency for survivors who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse and may be considering applying for redress, and for people who have already applied and are waiting for the responsible institution to join the Scheme.

 

Although the deadline for institutions to provide an intent to join has passed, the Government will continue to pursue – institutions named in an application to join the Scheme.

 

It is worth remembering that redress is just one option – people can choose to pursue civil litigation through the courts, noting that this may not involve the counselling support or Direct Personal Response from the responsible institution that the Scheme offers.

 

Our absolute focus is making sure that every institution named in an application to the Scheme and/or the Royal Commission for institutional child sexual abuse has at least started the process of joining so we can give comfort to survivors who have submitted applications or want to submit an application.

 

To date the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and 224 non-government institutions covering around 51,047 sites such as churches, schools, homes, charities and community groups across Australia are participating.

 

The Government is committed to continually improving the Scheme for survivors.

 

Last year additional $11.7 million investment was announced in the operation of the Scheme to provide case management while applications are processed and to hire more independent decision makers to finalise applications as quickly as possible.

 

The additional funding has also increased the capacity of community based support services, which play a critical role in supporting survivors to engage with the Scheme and apply for redress.

 

The Government is now also considering the removal of charitable tax status. That is a complex area of law but we as assessing how to move forward.

 

In recent weeks we have also had 156 institutions which were named in the Royal Commission or in applications for redress provide the Government with a formal intent to join. This means another 298 applications can progress. 

 

These institutions have until 31 December to complete the process to join. Getting that processing completed as quickly as possible is now a major focus for the Scheme as once all these intuitions complete the necessary paperwork a further 416 applications will be able to be processed.

 

If those institutions fail to complete the process by 31 December, on 1 January they will be named and face the same financial actions that those being named on 30 June 2020 are facing.

 

Institutions which have agreed to be named as having provided an intent to join are on the Redress Scheme website. It’s important to note not all of those have applications against them, some institutions have taken a proactive step to provide that clarity and show their commitment to child safety.