Abuse Redress Back on Political Agenda
April 29, 2016
The announcement by the child sexual abuse royal commission that it will close registrations for private sessions in a few months has reignited calls for a national redress scheme.
Blue Knot, a national organisation working with adult survivors of child abuse said on Friday the federal government should commit to the scheme before the general election.
Earlier on Friday Peter McClellan, chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse said they would be unable to accept applications for private sessions after September 30 - more than a year out from the commission's end date in December 2017.
Justice McClellan said the early deadline was necessary because of stretched resources but he stressed the importance of the private sessions where survivors tell a commissioner their personal story.
Those stories have been crucial for the public investigations which have revealed shocking abuse in orphanages, schools and homes run by state and non-state institutions.
Justice McClellan said they were so important that the commission has told the federal government they need to continue in some form as part of a redress scheme once the commission ceases.
President of Blue Knot Foundation, Cathy Kezelman said action was now needed to reassure those who bravely told their story, whether in public hearings or private sessions, "that their courage will be a catalyst for systemic changes to optimise the safety of our children in institutions in the future".
The reassurance would be best achieved through a national redress scheme, which can deliver justice through compensation, a direct personal response from institutions and accessible and equitable counselling and psychological care, Dr Kezelman said.
Blue Knot, formerly known as Adults Surviving Child Abuse earlier this year joined with the Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council and CLAN - the support organisation for care leavers - calling on the federal government to back a national redress scheme.
The Turnbull government has rejected the commission's recommendation for an independent national scheme opting instead for a scheme that will see states and territories run separate but similar schemes to help child abuse survivors in their jurisdictions.
The Labor Party said it would bring in a national scheme if it returned to power.
It is understood the government is having difficulty getting certain states including South Australia and Tasmania on side with this approach.
These states have also said no to a national scheme while NSW and Victoria have already said they would favour the national scheme.
Abuse survivors want a national scheme, run independently of the institutions where the abuse happened. The commission last September recommended a national redress scheme as the optimal way to achieve justice for thousands of survivors.