The Parliamentary Select Committee looking into the implementation of the National Redress Scheme has released a damning unanimous report saying the scheme ‘is at serious risk of not delivering on its objective of providing justice to survivors’.
The extraordinary report, which was supported by opposition, crossbench and government members, contains 29 wide-ranging recommendations including restoring the maximum payment to $200,000 and establishing a minimum payment of $10,000 as recommended by the Royal Commission.
Federal Member for Newcastle and Deputy Chair of the committee Sharon Claydon said many failings of the scheme came from the Government ignoring the considered recommendations of the Royal Commission.
“The Royal Commission spent five years in a gruelling forensic examination of all the available evidence, providing a benchmark for best practice,” Ms Claydon said.
“Every time the Government has deviated from the Recommendations of the Royal Commission without sound evidence, it has been to the detriment of the scheme and against the interests of survivors.”
Ms Claydon said the Committee also recommended the consideration of measures to compel institutions to participate in the scheme, including the suspension of tax concessions and charitable status.
“Last month, a third of survivors who had put in applications were stuck in limbo because the institutions they were abused in still hadn’t signed up for the scheme. This is untenable,” Ms Claydon said.
“I expect every institution to sign up for redress before the deadline, but if this doesn’t happen, governments must look at every option they have at their disposal to ensure all institutions sign up.”
Ms Claydon said the level of counselling offered was another key problem identified by the Committee.
“Again, State and Federal Governments need to look to the recommendations of the Royal Commission and deliver adequate counselling services that extend over the course of a person’s life as needed, not a capped dollar value that could be exhausted in a matter of months,” Ms Claydon said.
“We offer lifelong counselling support to our veterans suffering from PTSD, as we should, so why can’t we provide the same thing to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse?”
Other recommendations of the committee include:
- Revisiting the Assessment Framework, especially the controversial Assessment Matrix
- Extending the scheme to people in prison or with criminal records
- Ceasing the indexation of past payments
- Ensuring that survivors have access to free and appropriate financial counselling services