Abuse survivors want redress scheme fixed


Child sexual abuse survivors are still being re-traumatised because of shortcomings in the national redress scheme, advocates say.

An independent review of the two-year-old scheme is now underway, amid calls for more to be done to improve the experience of survivors seeking redress.

Care Leavers Australasia Network executive officer Leonie Sheedy says there are still unnecessary delays in the process and the scheme is not what the child abuse royal commission envisaged.

"This was supposed to be an avenue of a less legalistic and more humane way of dealing with crimes that were committed against children and it is just re-traumatising and hurting care leavers all over again," she told AAP.

Ms Sheedy said unless improvements were made, some survivors would not even try to seek redress.

"So many of them are not doing it because they say it's not worth it, it's not worth it financially and psychologically."

Knowmore principal lawyer Anna Swain also called for action to reduce lengthy delays, while noting there had been a significant increase in the number of redress offers and determinations recently.

"Some survivors have been waiting more than 18 months for an assessment and these delays are unacceptable," she said.

"It's certainly not the quick, trauma-informed, survivor-focused redress process that survivors were promised in that regard."

Knowmore also raised concerns over unfairness and inconsistency in the assessment of applications.

"We're finding that there are inconsistent decisions being made with the different independent decision makers and they're not consistent with the findings of the royal commission," Ms Swain said.

She said the royal commission recognised certain types of abuse, such as in the conduct of unnecessary internal examinations of girls in institutions, as constituting sexual abuse but a number of redress applicants had been told that they did not qualify.

Ms Swain said Knowmore and survivors wanted action to address a lack of transparency and accountability in scheme's operations and decision making, and improvements to the counselling and psychological care component.

There have been repeated calls from survivors and advocates to overhaul the scheme, which set a $150,000 maximum payment instead of the $200,000 cap recommended by the royal commission.

CLAN, which advocates for people who grew up in orphanages and children's homes, wants the indexation of any previous compensation payments when calculating redress offers abolished.

"It's a tax on the poorest of the poor," Ms Sheedy said.

The federal government has said it is committed to continuing to improve the scheme.

Australian Associated Press

(Source)


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