The National Redress Scheme has warned institutions named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse report that have not signed up by the end of June will be 'named and shamed', according to the minister responsible.
The scheme was set up to assist survivors of child sexual abuse access redress payments from institutions like churches, community groups, and state-run bodies like schools and orphanages.
It has been criticised as being Byzantine and time-consuming for survivors, with a low cap on repayments.
A federal committee into the scheme's performance is ongoing - a hearing over teleconference was held in Ballarat last month.
The federal Minister for Social Service, Anne Ruston, said the scheme's governance board will release an assessment report in October, focusing on application timeliness, whether it is delivering on its intent, and maintaining participation from institutions and support services.
Ms Ruston said in a statement the government is "working hard to make sure that every institution with a history of working with young people joins the Scheme to ensure all survivors who come forward have access to the redress they absolutely deserve".
Institutions which were either named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse or in applications to the Scheme which were yet to join must provide a clear written statement setting out their intention to participate by no later than June 30 - these institutions will be expected to complete the work necessary to join the Scheme as soon as possible but no later than December 31.
"I will be writing to these institutions to warn them that failure to join the Scheme will have significant consequences including being publicly named as having refused to fulfil their moral obligation to survivors," Minister Ruston said.
The identification provides certainty for survivors who were victims of abuse in an institution that has not yet been named, that they can lodge their application at a later date, whilst ensuring that organisations cannot drag out the process of joining, which causes yet more harm to survivors, the Redress Scheme website states.
The federal opposition has called for advance payments for elderly or ill survivors so they do not miss out.
Federal Ballarat MP Catherine King said in a statement too many survivors were still waiting for a result.
"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," she said.
"But this government then waited more than two years before even introducing legislation to establish a redress scheme.
"Survivors in our community and around Australia 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."
Labor is also pushing to increase the maximum payment to $200,000, as recommended by the Royal Commission, and make future federal funding agreements for institutions contingent on signing up to the scheme.
To date, the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments, and 185 non-government institutions are participating, which covers more than 49,000 sites across Australia.
According to the National Redress Scheme website, of March 27, the Scheme:
- had received 6,540 applications
- had made 1,883 decisions, including 1,533 payments totalling over $123.3 million
- had made 305 offers of redress, which applicants have six months to consider
- was processing 3,883 applications
- had 869 applications on hold, including 528 because one or more institution named had not yet joined, and about 341 because they required additional information from the applicant.
Affected by this story? There is help available.
You can phone the Ballarat Centre Against Sexual Assault, in Sebastopol, on 5320 3933, or free-call the crisis care line 24 hours on 1800 806 292. Or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Blue Knot Foundation on 1300 657 380, or Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277.
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