FEDERAL Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon has slammed the slow implementation of the National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse and demanded the Morrison Government fast track the most vulnerable.
The first interim report from the Joint Select Committee on the Implementation of the National Redress Scheme, of which Claydon is deputy chair, was tabled on Friday.
One of the major grievances to emerge in the interim report from applicants was the delay in processing the redress claims and the impact on their mental health
One applicant said: "I wasn't just a victim once; I was a victim twice. But really I feel like I was a victim a lot more since all this has been going on." Another described the redress scheme as "dehumanising" and made them feel like "nothing more than a number."
The National Redress Scheme was established in 2018 in response to recommendations made by the Royal Commission in their report into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Initial estimates were there could be up to 60,000 applicants.
As of February 14 6217 applicants had been received, but only 1196 payments made. The report also revealed 545 applications were on hold because at least one institution named in the redress is yet to join the scheme.
"It's appalling that two years after the scheme started, less than 1,500 payments have been made, despite the Royal Commission finding that 60,000 people may be eligible," Ms Claydon said.
"Most shamefully, we learnt through the inquiry that 22 people have died waiting for their claims to be processed."
Ms Claydon said the Morrison Government needed to follow the lead of Scotland, who last year introduced an advanced payment scheme of £10,000 ($19,473) for redress applicants who are terminally ill or aged 70 and over.
"Forcing survivors to wait a day longer than they need to for redress payments just adds further injustice to the trauma they've already experienced," she said.
A spokesperson for federal Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said vulnerable applicants were already fast-tracked to the front of the redress queue.
"Applications where a person is terminally ill or very elderly are considered priority applications and are triaged and processed ahead of other applications, where the institution is participating in the scheme," the spokesperson said.
"These applications are subject to shorter processing timeframes where possible. For example, participating institutions are required to respond to requests for information in half the usual time permitted."
Ms Claydon also added her voice to the growing anger directed at non-government institutions who have been named during the Royal Commission or identified in a redress application but are yet to sign up to the scheme.
Last week Ruston told the ABC the Federal Government was prepared to publicly name institutions if they do not sign up by the June 30 deadline and the Victorian Government has threatened to blacklist organisations.
"Almost 550 applications are on hold because 284 non-government institutions have failed to join the scheme two years on," Ms Claydon said. "This is absolutely unforgivable.
"The Morrison Government must consider every means at its disposal to ensure these organisations sign up, including removing their charitable status and or any other sources of public funding and concessions they receive, as well as naming and shaming recalcitrant organisations."
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