Derryn Hinch fights for national redress scheme to provide minimum payment

Redress: Senator Derryn Hinch at the Ballarat Town Hall this week, where he discussed the need for a minimum payment for the national redress scheme. It was his first time back in Ballarat since May 2016. Picture: Lachlan Bence
Redress: Senator Derryn Hinch at the Ballarat Town Hall this week, where he discussed the need for a minimum payment for the national redress scheme. It was his first time back in Ballarat since May 2016. Picture: Lachlan Bence

Crossbench senator Derryn Hinch says the reduced cap on child sex abuse redress payments needs to be reinstated to $200,000, as per royal commission recommendations.

In his first visit to Ballarat since the launch of the Justice Party in May 2016, Senator Hinch spent Thursday and Friday touring the city.

Senator Hinch said after the maximum payment was dropped back to $150,000 against commission recommendations, the Catholic Church had agreed to honour the maximum payment if went up again. 

But he said the fight for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to get the maximum payment would be difficult. 

“It’ll be hard, I’m not going to fudge it and say it’ll be easy,” he said. 

“I’m told the average payout has been around $75,000 but the maximum should be $200,000.”

And right now there’s no minimum, so you could have your case accepted and get not a dime. Everyone this week agreed there should be a minimum of $10,000 at least.

Derryn Hinch, Senator

Senator Hinch said this week he’d promised Care Leavers Australia Network the national redress scheme should cover psychological abuse in institutions, alongside sexual abuse. 

He was asked to chair the parliamentary committee on the national redress scheme for victims of institutional child sexual abuse.

“We had a full-day Senate redress hearing in Melbourne this week, and I must admit I was surprised. We have totally concentrated on sex abuse in institutions, and Ballarat knows more about that than any town,” he said.

“But something has to be done, because you’ve got people who were child slave labour in Australia. 500,000 kids were in care around the country, so something has to be done for them as well.”

Senator Hinch said he was giving states who had not signed up “one more week”.

But WA and Queensland said Friday they would not sign up to the redress scheme unless “critical issues” are resolved.

“I’ve said in Canberra, if they don’t sign up soon, then I’ll start getting dirty and you’ll hear from me,” he said. “I think we’ll get all the states in, but it’s going to take some pushing.”

Ballarat Catholic Diocese Vicar-General Justin Driscoll said the independent national redress scheme had been the focus of long-term advocacy and was a step in the right direction.

“Every step is a step closer, but for many there is still a long way to go. This is something survivors have been advocating for for a long time, and it’s independent from institutions,” Fr Driscoll said. 

“That’s the good thing, we won’t be assessing ourselves, it’s an independent scheme which will allow survivors greater trust.”