A leading Victorian judge has called for the urgent roll-out of a national redress scheme for victims of childhood sexual abuse.
In her landmark sentencing of disgraced paedophile priest Robert Claffey,73, at the Geelong County Court last week, Judge Felicity Hampel called for the establishment of redress scheme which provided genuine apologies and fully funded adequate compensation to all victims of sexual abuse.
Claffey unleashed a 22-year reign of terror on children across western Victoria.
He is likely to die behind bars after being jailed for 18 years and four months.
“I can only hope, that amongst the outcomes of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and the Royal Commission is the significant moral change necessary for the church to put the interests of victims before the institution..to actively cooperate with independent and transparent enquires into allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the future,” Judge Hampel said.
She said the consequences for victims of childhood sexual abuse were profound and lifelong.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended last year, institutions compensate survivors under a single national redress scheme for 60,000 survivors, which it said was the "most effective" for ensuring justice and the most cost-efficient model.
Labor has pledged $33 million to establish a national redress scheme, including an initial $20 million to create a coordinating agency and an advisory council.
However, the federal government previously said a single scheme was unlikely to be concluded soon enough.
Instead, it is pushing ahead with a national framework of consistent principles which would underpin redress schemes run by states and territories.
When pressed by Labor MP Tanya Plibersek during parliamentary Question Time late last month, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull remained noncommittal on a single redress scheme.
“We will be seeking to deliver a nationally consistent approach but not - but what honourable members opposite are proposing,” he said at the time.
However, Ballarat sexual abuse survivors and victim support groups have long argued a redress scheme should be beyond party politics, with all victims entitled to equal compensation regardless of what state or territory they were abused.
A spokesperson for Federal Attorney-General George Brandis said on Monday the Taskforce on Redress for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse was currently considering the issues raised by the royal commission in its Redress and Civil Litigation Report.
It is expected the taskforce will provide advice to the federal government on a redress scheme by the end of the year.
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