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Alyssa Lewis

Published: 07 September 2020
Author: Alyssa Lewis and Jae Lee

Abuse survivors wait while Jehovah’s Witnesses and others stall on National Redress

Hundreds of survivors who have applied for financial redress through the National Redress Scheme are having to wait months while the organisations against whom the allegations have been made resist or stall joining the Scheme.

These organisations include:

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses,
  • Kenja Communication,
  • Lakes Entrance Pony Club; and
  • Fairbridge Restored Limited.

There are many more.

Others such as the Australian Air League and Boy’s Brigade have expressed an intent to join, but only after having been named and shamed by the Federal Government.

At least 55 known applicants were unable to have their application processed due to these organisations refusing to take steps to join the Scheme.

More worrying, the Jehovah’s Witnesses organisation has refused to join on the basis that they did not have the ‘institutional setting’ required by the scheme.

Furthermore, Kenja communications co-founder issued a statement via their website denying allegations and standing firm on their decision to not join the scheme.

Deadline creep

The Scheme, which started on 1 July 2018, set a deadline for organisations to either join or indicate their intention to join the Scheme by 30 June 2020. On the days leading up to the deadline, both Federal and State governments issued statements warning institutions of severe consequences if they did not meet the deadline to join.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison threatened to “name & shame” these institutions and to cease government funding. The PM further threatened institutions with the loss of their charitable status, which would result in the loss of tax benefits.

As a result of COVID-19, the deadline for organisations to join has been further extended until 31 December 2020. In the meantime, survivors wait.

Embattled Redress Scheme plagued with problems

From the get-go, the National Redress Scheme has been criticised for its long delays in processing applications and lack of transparency. These flaws will be subject of a review of the Scheme later this year, as discussed in our previous blog: Independent review National Redress Scheme welcome

Our Abuse law team is disappointed to see so many organisations yet to join the Scheme. In doing so they continue to expose a key flaw in the Scheme which allowed organisations to voluntarily join. It also indicates despite the progress that has been made in recent years, many organisations are yet to acknowledge their role in exposing children to abuse in their care, nor take adequate responsibility for the trauma caused.

Other options

Survivors of abuse should be aware that a claim through the National Redress Scheme is not their only option, and for many survivors, is not the best option. Survivors and advocates are welcome to contact our office on 1300 366 441 or by email at enquiries@rctlaw.com.au for a sensitive, confidential and free of charge discussion with a member of our Abuse Law team about what your legal options, including but not limited to Redress, may be.

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