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The National Redress Scheme - is it For You?
In October 2017, the Federal Government introduced two Bills into parliament to establish a Commonwealth-led Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. The scheme commenced on 1 July 2018 and is due to run for 10 years.
The redress scheme is usually an alternative to taking your matter to court or settling it out of court. In some situations, if you have already resolved your claim, you may be eligible for a further redress “top up” payment.
There are three potential elements of redress:
- monetary payment
- access to counselling and psychological services; and
- a direct personal response from the responsible institutions if survivors request this.
Payment amounts under Redress
The Commonwealth Government has said that the likely average payment is going to be around $70,000. That means that some people are going to get less than that, some people might get more than that, but that is an educated guess that actuaries have put together. Who knows how true that is.
The maximum monetary payment available under the Redress Scheme is $150,000.
By contrast, clients who follow the mediation process recommended by us are likely to get somewhere in the range of $80,000 to $200,000. But some clients receive much larger sums.
The ‘opt-in’ nature of the Redress Scheme relies on potential defendants to claims first agreeing to participate in the Scheme. The Commonwealth cannot compel potential defendant institutions to participate. Not all institutions have opted in to the Redress Scheme.
Physical and/or emotional abuse is also not covered by the Redress Scheme – unless such (non-sexual) abuse occurred “in connection with” the sexual abuse.
How does the Redress Scheme affect a Sexual Abuse Claim?
If you have never made a claim, we can advise you about which avenue would be the most appropriate to your situation. The choices are:
- taking your matter to court
- settling your matter out of court
- pursuing a Redress Scheme claim
- victims of crime claims and Sentencing Act applications.
If you already have a claim on foot, whether in court or out of court, you can continue with that claim and do not have to make a claim through the government’s Redress Scheme. In many situations, you may be better off pursuing your claim outside of the government’s Redress Scheme – for example, if your claim may be worth more than $150,000; or if you have also suffered other abuse such as physical abuse, cultural abuse or neglect which is not covered by the Redress Scheme.
If you have previously settled a claim and have already received compensation or a monetary payment (whether by taking your case to court or settling a claim out of court), you still may be able to apply for a “top up” payment through the Redress Scheme. This is the case even if you have signed a Deed of Release giving up your rights to make any further claims. However, any prior payments made to you by a participating institution will be deducted from any amount payable through the Redress Scheme, after adjustment for inflation.
If you accept a payment through the government’s Redress Scheme, you will be required to sign a full release and cannot pursue another claim against the same institution(s) in the future.
If you are deemed ineligible for a monetary payment under the Redress Scheme for whatever reason, you may still be entitled to access counselling or psychological services and a direct personal response from the offending institutions.
Why we don’t recommend Redress
Ryan Carlisle Thomas does not generally recommend the Redress Scheme because of the lower financial payments compared to litigation or mediation.
Most importantly, the bureaucratic, faceless manner of the scheme and the fact that legal representation is excluded, means that you, as a survivor of abuse, has no one representing your interests and arguing for your rights. There is no opportunity for you to make your voice heard or to have someone help you make your voice heard.
Penny Savidis speaks to Jon Faine about flaws in the National Redress Scheme
As pressure mounted on the Federal Government, state governments and religious and other institutions to get serious about establishing a comprehensive redress scheme for survivors of institutional child abuse, Penny Savidis, head of our Institutional Abuse team, spoke to Jon Faine on ABC radio about some of fundamental flaws of the scheme then proposed.
Listen to the full interview below.
For more about the national Redress Scheme and alternatives to the Scheme, see our online booklet Pathways to Justice.
Are there options for compensation outside of the Redress Scheme?
The new National Redress Scheme provides an accessible framework for making claims for historical sexual abuse, but it may not be the optimal method for everyone. A number of other ways remain for abuse survivors to seek compensation.