Speedy response to abuse redress scheme demanded, The Australian

State and territory attorneys-general are pressuring the new Turnbull government to respond quickly to a recommendation that it set up a $4 billion redress scheme for up to 60,000 survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

The attorneys-general today wrote to federal Attorney-General George Brandis calling for the “earliest possible indication from the Commonwealth as to whether it intends to establish and fund a national redress scheme” for abuse victims.

In a report released last week, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended that child sexual abuse survivors have access to a $4 billion redress scheme as early as 2017.

Churches, schools and other institutions in which abuse occurred would be responsible for paying for compensation to victims, with the federal, state and territory governments to fund any shortfall.

It estimated “last resort funding” would cost $613 million or about 15 per cent of the total cost of redress, and left it open to federal, state and territory governments to negotiate how much of this amount they would contribute.

The report made a total of 99 recommendations aimed at improving access to justice for survivors of institutional child abuse.

In their letter to Senator Brandis today, the state and territory attorneys-general called for the commonwealth to clarify its response to the report, arguing that its approach would “have significant ramifications for the states and territories”.

In the letter, the attorneys-general said the Royal Commission had “identified a clear role for the commonwealth”, including that it “announce its willingness to establish a national scheme by the end of 2015”.

They also pointed out that the Royal Commission had recommended commonwealth involvement in a “number of other areas”, including reforms to Medicare to enable better access to counselling for survivors of abuse.

It said these reforms were “critical to the success of the redress approach recommended by the Royal Commission”.

The letter was signed by all state and territory attorneys-general other than the Northern Territory, because of “the timing of the Northern Territory Government’s Cabinet processes”.

In a statement this afternoon, NSW Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton said the Baird government welcomed the Royal Commission’s final report on redress and civil litigation.

However, she stopped short of throwing her support behind the national redress scheme — saying the NSW government would “closely consider all of the Commission’s findings and recommendations, in particular the recommendation of a national redress scheme”.

“The Commission has called for a decision on a national redress scheme to be made by the end of the year,” she said.

“We look forward to discussions with the Commonwealth and other States and Territories on this issue over the coming months.”

She said the NSW government had already offered unlimited counselling for survivors of abuse, provided extra resources to the Department of Family and Community Services to improve and fast track access to care records and released a discussion paper in January on options for legislative reform to limitations periods in civil claims for child sexual abuse. She said it would also “consider” the Commission’s recommendations in relation to civil litigation.

The report recommended that states and territories make changes to enable survivors of child sexual abuse to sue institutions, including churches, schools and disability and health services, from now on.


Full article: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/in-depth/speedy-response-to-abuse-redress-scheme-demanded/story-fngburq5-1227543927990?sv=8c33ca221e957f4bca9a672ceb08a440