Tasmania allocates $70 million to join national sexual abuse redress scheme
By Peta Carlyon And Rhiana Whitson
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
May 22, 2018
|Ms Archer says $70 million will be allocated in the budget.|
Tasmania will opt in to the national redress scheme for the state's survivors of child sexual assault.
Attorney-General Elise Archer made the announcement on the floor of State Parliament this morning.
The national redress scheme comes into effect around the country on July 1.
It was a major recommendation of the royal commission into child abuse and is the first compensation scheme to cover all survivors of abuse in Tasmanian churches, state and non-state institutions.
Ms Archer said the decision had come after months of discussions with the Federal Government.
"The need to ensure that the scheme is best able to achieve its stated purpose has always been at the forefront of my mind," she said.
"It is is to provide support to people who are sexually abused as children whilst in the care of an institution."
Ms Archer said the cost of opting into the redress scheme to the state was an estimated $70 million.
"Our decision to opt in to the national redress scheme builds on Tasmania's proud record of supporting victims," she said.
Under the scheme survivors will be able to apply for payments of up to $150,000 as well as a contribution towards counselling and support services.
The statute of limitations which gives victims of sexual abuse greater legal rights in legal proceedings will also be lifted on July 1.
"The rationale for redress is not to compensate for damages for the abuse suffered, but to make a monetary payment to acknowledge the harm done."
Ms Archer said the state's $54 million redress scheme, which operated from 2003-2013, assisted more than 1,800 survivors who were the subject of sexual, physical or emotional abuse while children.
Delay unfair on victims, Labor says
Opposition Leader Rebecca White welcomed the Government's commitment to the redress, but criticised the time taken to sign up to the scheme.
"The delay has not been fair for victims who have wait sometimes decades for closure," she said.
Premier Will Hodgman defended the time his Government had taken, saying the negotiations with the Commonwealth were complex.
"I think it is reasonable in a time frame that is not inconsistent with other states," he said.
"South Australia and Western Australia are yet to sign up to the scheme."
Greens Leader Cassy O'Connor said it was an important day for Tasmanians whose lives had been shattered by abuse.
"I think it's fair to say [there are people] all over Tasmania who will breathe some sigh of relief to know Tasmania now has accepted its responsibility to be part of the national redress scheme," she said.
Churches applaud Government's decision
Tasmania's Catholic and Anglican churches applauded the Government's move.
Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous said the scheme was "one of a number of steps that I hope will offer healing to the victims of abuse".
"I make myself completely available to victims of abuse; their welfare is my primary concern," he said.
Anglican Bishop of Tasmania Richard Condie said he was delighted, saying it was the "right thing to do".
"Redress provides a measure of restorative justice to survivors, as well as recognition of support," he said.
"Our compassion for survivors of sexual abuse in our organisation is the driver for the costly path [asset sale] the Anglican church has embarked upon."