LINDA BURNEY MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES
MEMBER FOR BARTON
SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL
MEMBER FOR ISAACS
ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
LABOR CALLS FOR ADVANCE PAYMENTS UNDER REDRESS SCHEME SO SURVIVORS DON’T MISS OUT
The Morrison Government must end the uncaring and negligent way in which it has denied justice to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
In particular the Government must ensure the elderly, or those with illness, are urgently able to access advance payments under the National Redress Scheme.
The Government’s handling of the scheme has been nothing short of shameful.
It has now been almost five years since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse established by Prime Minister Gillard released its redress and civil litigation report in September 2015.
The redress report was prioritised for release before the final report because the commissioners recognised the urgency of providing at least some form of justice to the tens of thousands of Australians who were sexually abused as children in the institutions that were trusted to care for them.
But this Government then waited more than two years before even introducing legislation to establish a redress scheme.
The royal commission estimated 60,000 survivors would be eligible for redress.
Almost two years later the scheme has received just 6,425 applications and made 1,388 payments.
534 applications have been put on hold because 295 non-government organisations have yet to even join the scheme, including some religious and sporting organisations.
A 2019 report of the Joint Select Committee on the Implementation of the National Redress Scheme, established because the scheme was so obviously inadequate, made a number of recommendations which the Government has failed to implement, including:
- Sanctioning institutions that refuse to join the scheme under the Charities Act, including the suspension of tax concessions;
- Ensuring governments are funders of last resort where there are no extant or linked institutions; and
- Increasing the maximum payment under the National Redress Scheme to $200,000, as recommended by the Royal Commission.
The Morrison Government also said that it would publicly name and shame institutions. With just two months before institutions can sign up, the Government is yet to make good on this promise.
The Morrison Government’s failure to take action means that elderly survivors or those with illness risk missing out on redress altogether. A number of survivors have already passed away while waiting for determinations on their applications for redress.
Labor calls on the Government to urgently undertake the following measures:
- Establish an advance payment scheme for survivors who are elderly or suffering illness so that they don’t miss out on redress – similar to the advance payment scheme in Scotland;
- Publicly name and shame all institutions which have not signed up to the scheme – as promised;
- Make future federal funding agreements for institutions contingent on signing up to the scheme;
- Speed up the decision making process; fix the arbitrary assessment matrix; lift the cap on payments to $200,000 as recommended by the royal commission; expand funder of last resort provisions; and end the indexing of prior payments.
Survivors have waited long enough. Some are dying waiting. It’s time for institutions to do the right thing and sign up to the scheme. And it’s time for the Morrison Government to ensure they do so.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.