Published: 04 November 2016
Author: Amy Olver

Sexual abuse Redress Scheme finally announced

Survivors of abuse to get up to $150,000

More than 13 months after the release of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse’s report on Redress and Civil litigation, which recommended a national redress scheme be set up by the first half of 2017, Social Services Minister Christian Porter has announced today that a federal led compensation scheme will see survivors of institutional sexual abuse get up to $150,000 each.

In announcing the scheme, Minister Porter stated that the most significant feature of the scheme will be to avoid re-traumatisation of survivors of abuse.

What we know so far

  • The government will establish an independent advisory council comprised of specialists including survivor advocacy groups, medical and legal experts who will advise on the implementation of the scheme;
  • The scheme will commence in 2018 and run for 10 years, with an option to extend;
  • The scheme will be funded by the Commonwealth government with State governments and institutions to be invited to “opt in” to the scheme;
  • The Commonwealth cannot compel institutions and state governments to participate in the scheme but intends to work closely with governments and entities representing institutions to ensure a national consistency;
  • The scheme will function on the basis that the ‘responsible entity pays’, as recommended by the Royal Commission;
  • The scheme will offer a ‘direct personal response’ for those survivors who request it, presumably from the offending institution(s), with options for counselling and monetary payments which aim to acknowledge the abuse and failures of the institutions and governments involved.

Will I be eligible for compensation under the scheme?

The commitment to a federal based compensation scheme is no doubt a welcome one for survivors of abuse who previously doubted the establishment of a federal scheme after after submissions made under former Prime Minister tony AbbottHowever, more detail is required to enable survivors to know how the scheme will operate and whether the scheme will compensate them. The government has made it clear it is unable to force participation of states or territories and other non-government institutions in a national scheme, and with some states having previously indicated they won’t participate in a scheme, it is unlikely to be the truly national scheme recommended by the Commission.

To date, no eligibility criteria have been announced. Interestingly, the announcements today make reference only to sexual abuse (which is the focus of the Royal Commission’s inquiry) and no reference has been made to whether survivors of physical and/or emotional abuse will be eligible under the scheme.

Nor has there been any announcement as to whether abuse survivors who have already received monetary payments of less than $150,000.00 from institutions will be able to apply to ‘top up’ their payments to receive up to $150,000.00. The Royal Commission’s redress report recommended that top up payments be part of any scheme established.

What do I do now? 

Ryan Carlisle Thomas welcomes a national redress scheme but today’s announcement makes it clear this is not a certainty. The devil will be in the detail as far as any scheme is concerned. We also await the Victorian government’s response to today’s announcement as to whether it intends to ‘opt in’ to a federal-led scheme. The Victorian government has previously indicated it will work cooperatively with the Commonwealth on redress.

Our specialised team will continue to provide updates on redress on both twitter and through our blogs. Further, we maintain a database for those who want to remain updated about the developing redress scheme and any entitlements they may have.

If you are a survivor of abuse at an Institutions about your potential rights and want advice or want to be placed on our database please call 1300 366 441 or email us directly at iaclaims@rct-law.com.au.

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