Published: 08 November 2016
Author: RCT Abuse Law team

The Practical Realities of Compensating Survivors of Institutional Abuse

Stringer Clark operates in association with law firm, Ryan Carlisle Thomas, which is proudly a leading, and the largest, Victorian firm in matters of Institutional abuse.

On 4 November, Social Services Minister Christian Porter announced a Commonwealth-led compensation scheme which will see survivors of institutional sexual abuse receive up to $150,000 each. This announcement has been a long time coming for survivors and has been welcomed by most. However, more information is needed before survivors can be confident that their access to compensation is secure.

Growing concerns about compensation

There are growing concerns about the practicalities of the Commonwealth-led compensation scheme because:

  • The proposed scheme required governments, churches and charities who ran institutions to opt in or not. This option means that if they do opt in, they could also opt out.
  • Whilst some states including Victoria and NSW, and the Catholic church, have indicated a willingness to opt in to a national scheme other states, including South Australia have previously opposed participation in such as scheme. It is not yet clear which States, territories, churches and charities that ran institutions will choose to opt into the scheme. However, the Federal Government has made it clear that other than in the case of the territories, where the legal powers are different, the Federal Government does not have the power to compel entities to participate.
  • Time will tell how effective the Commonwealth-led scheme will be and in particular, how the process will work for survivors with claims against multiple institutions where only some of those responsible entities opt in but others opt out.

How much compensation is enough?

There is also plenty of debate around maximum payments and crucial supports services. For further insights, please see Ryan Carlisle Thomas’ blog Fair, simple and generous? Queries remain for abuse compo scheme.

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