A new federal compensation scheme commenced on 1 July 2018, for victims of institutional abuse. Under this National Redress Scheme (‘the Scheme’) victims can apply for redress payments if they were subject to sexual abuse as a child at a “participating institution”. The scheme operator will investigate the claim and, if a participating institution is found to have been responsible, will offer victims, monetary compensation capped at $150,000, lifelong access to counselling or psychological services and a direct personal response from the institution/s responsible.
Prior to considering the Redress Scheme, victims should get independent legal advice as they may be awarded greater financial compensation if they pursue a claim in Court.
The Scheme will operate for a period of 10 years (applications are only accepted for 9 years).
Whilst we applaud the scheme, victims of institutional abuse should seek legal advice prior to making a claim, as it does have its limitations:
- It is a statutory scheme and as such can be changed or abolished at any time by another Act of Parliament.
- There are no time limits, subject to the abuse occurring before 1 July 2018 and the victim being under 18 when it occurred.
- The scheme has capped monetary payments at $150,000.
- The monetary payment of $150,000 is determined on a sliding scale of seriousness of the abuse. Meaning, victims could receive anything from $0-$150,000. There is no guarantee victims will receive $150,000 or anything close to that.
- It is a new scheme, as such no-one has yet been through the process, hence we cannot advise you of likely outcomes or rates of claims being accepted.
- Victims can only make 1 claim under the scheme.
- The scheme is open to victims of child sexual abuse from Commonwealth institutions and institutions who opt into the scheme. So far, it appears only the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, The Salvation Army, the Uniting Church, Scouts Australia and YMCA have opted in.
- The scheme has no appeal rights. This means, if a victim does not agree with the decision made under the scheme, they cannot have that decision reviewed by a Court.
- The scheme is prejudice to those who have spent 5 or more years in gaol, as these applications will be “assessed differently”. This appears to lack insight into the fact that victims of sexual abuse are more likely to fall into this category.
- Victims are not prevented from applying if they have previously received monetary compensation through another redress scheme, victims of crime schemes or out of court settlements, however, the value of any earlier payment will be deducted.
- Victims cannot apply if they have already had the abuse against the institution determined by a Court.
- If a victim of institutional abuse accepts an offer under the redress scheme, they will be precluded from taking Court proceedings as they must sign a document releasing the institution from any future liability.
It is really important that victims seek independent legal advice, prior to making an application. Victims may be able to achieve a better outcome if they pursue a claim in Court, where the monetary gains may significantly exceed those of the Statutory Redress Scheme.
Contact Amanda Robinson to discuss your options before applying for the Redress Scheme.