Published: 07 July 2020
Author: Jessica Steele
Independent review National Redress Scheme welcome
It is welcome news that the National Redress Scheme, which has now been operating for two years, will be reviewed, as it has been an ongoing source of controversy and frustration for many survivors of childhood abuse.
The Scheme has been criticized for the inordinate delays in processing applications, as well as a lack of transparency on how the maximum level of compensation, awarded only in cases of ‘exceptional’ circumstances’, is applied. You can read further on this in our previous blog: Commonwealth-led Redress Scheme gives traumatised sexual abuse victims the run around.
We agree with these criticisms. As Victoria’s largest abuse legal practice, we mostly advise clients to pursue other avenues to compensation.
More recently, one of the key weaknesses in the scheme has been demonstrated, with figures showing that hundreds of survivors have had their applications put on hold due to the responsible organisation not yet having opted into the Scheme almost two years after its introduction. You can read further on this in our previous blog: Hundreds of abuse survivors waiting on orgs to sign up to Redress.
The Independent Review will be conducted is calling for submissions from interested parties on the operation the Scheme and the experience of applicants to date. It is to be chaired by Ms Robyn Kruk AO. The role of Ms Kruk will be to consider the submissions and make recommendations to the government on how the Scheme can be improved. It is anticipated that the government will be presented with the results of the review in February 2021.
We don’t recommend Redress to clients
RCT Law wholeheartedly welcomes the review. In most cases, we advise our clients not to pursue claims through the National Redress Scheme because of other superior alternatives, including civil claims in court and out of court settlements.
In all but the most exceptional circumstances, we do not assist survivors with National Redress Scheme applications, instead referring the majority of clients to Community Legal Centre, Knowmore, to obtain free advice. We have assisted a very small number of clients with National Re-dress Scheme claims at their insistence due to exceptional circumstances
In such claims, we have witnessed firsthand the excessive delays in processing National Redress Scheme applications along with lack of transparency provided to applicants in relation to their applications and their eligibility for a payment in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
This lack of certainty in the way payments are made to victims only causes confusion and distrust in the system, and makes it highly difficult to provide tailored advice to clients who are eligible to make an application to the National Redress Scheme or pursue a civil claim, about their best course of action.
We will shortly commence drafting our submission to the Independent Review and encourage other interested parties to do the same. More information will become available in the coming weeks about how submissions can be provided to the Independent Review.
Share your stories with us
If there are survivors of abuse or other interested parties who would like to share their experiences with us so that we may advocate on your behalf, please contact our office to speak with a member of our Abuse Law Department.
RCT Law is proud to be part of a panel of trauma-informed specialist law firms to whom Knowmore refers abuse survivors for legal advice regarding their civil options (to consider as an alternative to pursuing a National Redress Scheme application). Survivors of abuse should be aware that a civil claim can often provide a stronger result and a higher award of compensation. Read more about this in our previous blog: National Redress - how it works, is it for you? and we encourage all applicants to the National Redress Scheme to obtain legal advice on the options available to them before accepting an offer made via the Scheme.
Survivors of abuse are welcome to contact our office on 1300 366 441 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.