Labor fears some of the thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse with unresolved redress claims could die before they are compensated under the $3.8 billion scheme and has urged the federal government to make early payments to sick and elderly survivors.

The opposition has also called on the government to name and shame institutions that fail to join the voluntary scheme before its June 30 sign up deadline as more than 500 applications for compensation remain on hold because the survivor’s institution is yet to sign up.

Published in Sydney Morning Herald

Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services Linda Burney said the federal government’s inaction demonstrated an “uncaring and negligent” attitude towards child sexual abuse survivors.

“The government’s handling of the scheme has been nothing short of shameful,” Ms Burney said.

“The Morrison government’s failure to take action means that elderly survivors or those with illness risk missing out on redress altogether. A number of survivors have already passed away while waiting for determinations on their applications for redress,” she said.

By the end of January, 6077 survivors had made applications under the redress scheme and 1367 applications had been finalised.

The scheme gives child sexual abuse survivors up to $150,000 in compensation, on top of counselling services and often an apology from the responsible institution.

Labor is also calling for the maximum payment to be increased from $150,000 to $200,000.

A federal parliamentary committee heard earlier in the month survivors should receive interim payments while their applications were being processed, and should also receive payments even if the institution that abused them had not signed up.

In its response to the committee findings, the federal government said it had “streamlined the assessment process” by increasing the application decision-makers, adopting a new case manager system, and pledging to review the scheme again by its second anniversary.

The response also noted the federal government was urging all institutions to sign up to the program ahead of the scheme’s June 30 deadline.

“Application complexity, particularly around institutions, has been greater than originally envisaged,” the response noted.

The Department of Social Services said last month 295 institutions named in redress applications were yet to join the scheme.

By Max Koslowski
Published in Sydney Morning Herald
28 April 2020