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Published: 20 June 2018
Author: Ian Dallas

Abuse apology more effective with compensation

The announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week that he will deliver a national apology to victims of institutional child sexual abuse on 22 October 2018. (http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-06-13/child-sexual-abuse-survivors-will-receive-national-apology/9863656), is a most welcome piece of news.

The formal public apology, which will coincide with National Children’s Week, is one of the significant recommendations made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (‘the Royal Commission’).

The apology will recognise the hurt and injustice suffered by the thousands of survivors who told their stories of childhood sexual, physical and emotional abuse to the Royal Commission, and the many other survivors who have suffered in silence.

While a national apology of course does not change the past, it is hoped that survivors will find comfort in having their experiences publicly acknowledged on behalf all Australians, at the highest level of government. The announcement has been welcomed by many survivor support groups, some of whom will be consulted by the Prime Minister as the wording of the apology is worked out.

Apology more effective with compensation

The news that a public apology will be made in October coincides with the welcome announcement that all states have now committed to the Commonwealth’s Redress Scheme, which is due to commence on 1 July. In addition to providing compensation and funding for counselling, the Redress Scheme is also able to provide individual apologies and responses from institutions to survivors.

We have acted for many survivors of child abuse and have found  that many clients have been assisted by receiving a written or personal apology from the  institution as it provides acknowledgement of abuse they have suffered, the failures of the institution and the years of silence endured by survivors.

While the Redress Scheme will provide an opportunity for such apologies to be requested, the work we have done with survivors has allowed them to obtain such apologies, as well as compensation, which goes some way to recognising their hurt.

We continue to engage in this work, advising clients as to the pathway to justice which will best suit them.