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Published: 14 September 2015
Author: Ryan Carlisle Thomas

Royal Commission recommends maximum $200,000 redress payment for abuse survivors

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has recommended a cap of $200,000 in redress payments to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse as part of a national redress scheme.

The recommendation comes as part of the Royal Commission’s long-awaited final report on redress and civil litigation, released earlier today.

The report says a national scheme should offer a minimum payment of $10,000, an average payment of $65,000 and maximum of $200,000. Claims would be assessed with reference to a matrix classifying the severity and impact of the abuse

The report said the purpose of a monetary payment under redress “should be to provide a tangible recognition of the seriousness of the hurt and injury suffered by a survivor”.

Broad support for access to counselling

The recommendations also offer support for extensive counselling services.

“Counselling should be offered and funded during the period from assisting applicants with the application, through the period when the application is being considered, to the making of the offer and the applicant’s consideration of whether or not to accept the offer. This should include a session of financial counselling if the applicant is offered a monetary payment”

It is recommended that counselling is provided by a therapist of the survivor’s choice and that a limited number of counselling sessions be available to family members of survivors.

The report recommends reforms to Medicare provisions on psychological care.

“The Australian Government should expand the range of counselling and psychological care services for which Medicare funding is available for survivors who are assessed as eligible for redress to include longer-term interventions that are suitable for treating complex trauma, including through non-cognitive approaches”.

The report also recommends all survivors be offered a formal apology from the offending institution.

Government recommended to be “funder of last resort”

In cases where institutions no longer exist, the Royal Commission recommends the government act as a “funder of last resort”

“The community is entitled to look to governments to meet an identified community need from their revenue sources rather than impose the obligations of one institution either on another institution or on individual survivors,” said the report.

“We are satisfied that governments should act as funders of last resort on the basis of their social, regulatory and guardianship responsibilities.”

Calls for the Federal government to commit to redress by the end of the year

The Royal Commission says the Federal government should determine whether it will support a national redress scheme and announce its decision by the end of the 2015.

“Whether there is a single national redress scheme or separate state and territory redress schemes, [it] should be established and ready to begin inviting and accepting applications from survivors by no later than 1 July 2017,” the report said.

Earlier this year, the Federal Government, in its submission to the Commission, controversially stated that it would not contribute funding to any redress fund, saying a national scheme would be “extremely complex and would require significant time and resources to establish”. The stance upset many abuse survivors.

The Federal Government’s attitude contrasts with that of the Victorian Government which has just released its own consultation paper on how best to redress the abuse perpetrated on children who were once in state and non-state care. It its paper, the Victorian Government makes it clear that it is actively considering options for financial restitution.

Ryan Carlisle Thomas welcomes the release of the Royal Commission’s recommendations and urges the Federal government to respond swiftly to give survivors seeking redress certainty in their legal options. We support a redress scheme that is easy to access, does not re-traumatise survivors and provides broad counselling support. We believe financial payments to survivors is an important part of redress in recognition of the harm suffered and impact of child abuse throughout a survivor’s life.

Our firm has acted in compensation claims for more than 2,500 survivors of institutional abuse. We also offer representation to abuse survivors called to give evidence in Royal Commission public hearings.

Read the Royal Commission’s full report here.

Read more about our firm’s Institutional abuse practice here.

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