By Louise Almeida, Graduate
The national redress scheme for child sexual abuse took effect this month, allowing survivors of institutional abuse make claims against their perpetrators.
Crucial for supporting survivors in getting their lives back on track, the scheme allows for access to a direct personal response, counselling, psychological services and a monetary payment of compensation of up to $150,000.
The scheme applies nationally to survivors abused in Commonwealth and State institutions, as well as non-government institutions that choose to opt-in.
Major non-government institutions have agreed to join the scheme. These include the Catholic Church, Salvation Army, Anglican Church, YMCA and Scouts Australia.
A survivor of child sexual abuse can apply if:
- an institution was responsible for the abuse;
- the abuse happened before 1 July 2018;
- the survivor was born before 30 June 2010; and
- the survivor is an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
Currently, only applications for abuse relating to Victorian, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth institutions will be assessed. All other state and territory governments are still rolling out the scheme. Once a state passes the relevant laws, redress applications for abuse in institutions can be assessed.
Non-government institutions in each state can only take steps to join the scheme once the state has passed certain laws. Generally, survivors' applications will be assessed once the non-government institution has completed the opt-in process.
It is important for survivors to carefully consider making an application as there are some limitations. Under the scheme, exceptions exist, applicants can only make one claim, and accepting redress can impact survivors' rights.
If you or a family member are considering participation in the national redress scheme for child sexual abuse, you need the right advice.
Partner Bree Knoester has acted for many victims of abuse, and guides her clients through the legal process with consistent and carefully considered advice.
For a confidential discussion, call her direct telephone number (03) 9321 9879.