Nsw Government Can Learn from Catholics on Child Abuse Redress
By Oliver Jacques
February 1, 2018
The Catholic Church has rightly copped a battering from media for turning a blind eye to child sexual abuse over several decades.
But the question must surely be asked, why are state governments getting let off the hook?
Contrary to popular belief, most Australia children who were sexually assaulted in an institution were not abused by Catholic clergy or laypeople.
According to the child abuse royal commission, many thousands of children were also abused in state government-run orphanages, foster care and educational facilities.
In many cases, responsible governments and bureaucrats failed to take action against the perpetrators, or offer help to the victims.
And while reports of sexual assault in the Church are now rare, abuse appears to still be rampant in foster care.
A royal commission report revealed that there were 2600 reports of sexual abuse in foster care (government and private) between 2012-13 and 2013-14 alone.
In 2015, the royal commission recommended the establishment of a national redress scheme. Under the scheme, churches and governments were to put in funds to ensure children abused in their institutions would be compensated for their trauma.
The Catholic Church immediately agreed to support to a national redress scheme.
But the silence from state governments has been deafening. Nearly three years down the track, not one has formally signed on to the redress scheme.
Itís all very well for government to spend half a billion dollars on a royal commission Ė money that goes to lawyers, bureaucrats and consultants.
But donít the actual victims deserve something too?
No amount of money makes up for being raped, or being told to ďshut upĒ when you report it. But financial redress can help people whose lives have been ruined by abuse; enabling them to pay bills, debts or access counselling.
And itís a way for institutions to take responsibility for what they did (or didnít) do.
The NSW Government ought to be leading the way. As the biggest state, its institutions were the biggest abusers of children in its care.
But shamefully, a government prepared to commit billions to rebuild stadiums is dragging its heels on helping the victims of its own neglect.