Commencing in January 2013, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has sought input from a broad range of sources, including collecting information about the experiences of abused victims. This was integral in the Commission's plight to seek recognition for injuries, provide survivors equal access to redress and prevent institutional abuse.
The Royal Commission has considered a redress scheme for institutionally abused victims and legal reform for survivors subject to limitation periods. In September 2015 the Royal Commission recommended that the Australian government announce whether it would establish a $4.3 billion national redress scheme for 60,000 abuse survivors by the end of 2015. It further recommended the scheme be established no later than 1 July 2017.
In a joint statement in January 2016, Attorney-General George Brandis and Social Services Minister Christian Porter said that the national approach will compensate survivors irrespective of the location of the institution at the time of the offending or the present status of the offending institution. All governments will be expected to commit to core principles and processes for the assessment and payment of redress. Institutions where abuse occurred will be liable to pay settlements of redress.
Where institutions no longer exist, state governments will be'funders of last resort'. Whether the person seeking compensation is an adult who suffers the effects of abuse as a child, or a parent who has recently been made aware of abuse against their child, they will require some kind of support.
Redress will provide victims with some recognition of the pain and suffering endured as a result of their abuse. The establishment of the National Redress Scheme is critical for supporting victims in getting their lives back on track.
Prior to the change in law, victims were able to apply to churches and institutions for compensation and an apology. They were also able to join a waiting register in lieu of the national redress scheme being established. However, a federal commitment to compensation for victims will demonstrate a national willingness to accept the previous wrongdoings of our institutions and look to try and remedy some of the hurt caused.
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