New South Wales and Victoria have agreed to join the Commonwealth’s National Redress Scheme, which could see people able to access compensation payments from July this year, for childhood sexual abuse while in the care of institutions. The Federal Parliament is currently considering two bills that would form the legislative basis for the scheme – the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2017 (Cth) and the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017 (Cth). The Bills are also the subject of an inquiry by the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs. For more background on the bills, see TimeBase’s earlier article.
ABC News reports Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged other states to join the scheme, saying:
“We owe it to the survivors for their courage in telling stories they have been too afraid to speak of, often for decades…
Now that those stories have been told, now that they are on the record, we must do everything within our power to honour those stories and to act and to make sure that this national tragedy is never repeated.
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.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told ABC News:
“New South Wales 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.”
Victorian Premier David Andrews told The Guardian Australia:
“Victoria wants to ensure that survivors are respected, that their pain and suffering is recognised, and that they get the support they need.”
An announcement on the Department of Social Services website says:
“The state governments of New South Wales and Victoria have agreed to join the Redress Scheme. They are the first state governments to sign up.
This means that subject to the passage of legislation, around 15,000 people who were sexually abused as children while in the care of the New South Wales, Victorian and Commonwealth government institutions can apply for the Redress Scheme when it starts on 1 July 2018.
This includes an estimated 1,000 people who were abused in Commonwealth institutions, 9,000 people who were abused in New South Wales Government institutions, and 5,000 people who were abused in Victorian Government institutions.
Over the next two years, we expect most state governments and many more institutions to opt in to the Redress Scheme. Eventually, we want the Scheme to cover all governments, churches, major charities and other non-government organisations. If that happens, up to 60,000 people will be able to apply for redress.”
According to ABC News, the Commonwealth struck a deal with NSW and Victoria that will increase the amount of the average payment paid out to victims, but reduce the amount at which the maximum payments will be capped. The Royal Commission recommended an average payment of around $65,000, which under the deal will be “around $11,000 higher”, and also recommended the maximum payment possible be capped at $200,000, which under the deal will reduce to $150,000.
As the March 17 state election approaches, Premier Jay Weatherill and Opposition Leader Steven Marshall have both indicated their support for a national redress. The Premier told SBS News:
“We're going to co-operate to make sure a national scheme comes about.”
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall also said:
“We don't support a stand-alone state redress system… What we would look at is joining a national approach. We think this is the logical way to go.”
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
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