Turnbull government yet to commit funding for child abuse redress scheme

Ballarat clergy sexual abuse survivors Paul Levey and Andrew Collins
Ballarat clergy sexual abuse survivors Paul Levey and Andrew Collins

The Turnbull government remains non-committal on establishing a single national redress scheme for child sexual abuse survivors in the lead up to the federal election. 

The federal government have confirmed a single scheme was unlikely to be concluded soon enough and are pushing ahead for a national framework of consistent principles which would underpin redress schemes run by states and territories. 

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuses has recommended the government set up a $4 billion redress scheme for more than 60,000 people sexually abused as children in intuitions.

Research showed it would cost the government $613 million in a funding shortfall of compensation for abuse that occurred at institutions that no longer exist. 

Labor has pledged $33 million to establish a national redress scheme, including $20 million to establish a coordinating agency and an advisory council.

In a statement to The Courier, a spokesman for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet said a single national scheme would not be achievable within a time-frame that is acceptable for survivors. 

He said some jurisdictions have also stated their opposition to a single national scheme. 

In May, a federal government taskforce was established  to continue consulting with states and territories and present recommendations following the election.

The Catholic Church is predicted be among the largest contributors to pay compensation for decades of child sex crimes. 

Ballarat clergy abuse survivor Andrew Collins condemned the federal government’s failure to commit to implementing national redress for survivors. 

“It makes no sense why the Turnbull government would not commit to it,” Mr Collins said. 

“The longer they leave it the more people will die because survivors are getting older. Many of them are struggling with ill health. They need support now.”  

Mr Collins is calling for a national redress scheme which mirrored support given to soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

Mr Collins said victims who have ongoing health issues should receive a health care card, as well as a pension of $252 a week extra, bringing them in line with war veterans.

He said survivors should also receive an individual treatment plan and compensation for past wrongs, pain and suffering, capped at $350,000, mimicking existing payment models for trauma victims like what is provided by the Traffic and Accident Commission.

“There also needs to be ongoing care and support for those who need it,” Mr Collins said.

Mr Collins said survivors also wanted support systems in place for secondary victims including their partners and children.

“Survivors also need to be involved in the process of establishing the redress scheme, they need to have a voice because for far too long they were silenced by the institutions,” he said.

The Courier has contacted the federal government and is awaiting a response.