Redress announcement

By Catherine Hoffman
New Times Editor & Communications Officer

Posted in News

In a statement released on Friday 29 January, the federal government expressed its intention to work with states and territories on a “nationally consistent approach” regarding redress payments to survivors of child sexual abuse.

In the final recommendations released in September 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a national redress scheme, estimated to cost $4.3 billion over 10 years and underwritten by the federal government, to ensure justice for survivors. The Chair of the Commission, Justice Peter McClellan, shared this recommendation with the members of the 14th Triennial Assembly of the Uniting Church in July last year.

The recent statement indicates that the government favours a national approach to compensation, rather than a single national scheme:

“The Commonwealth’s starting point for these discussions is that governments and non-government institutions should take essential responsibility for the wrongs committed under their care,” Attorney General Senator George Brandis and the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, said in the statement.

While some institutions and survivor groups have indicated their disappointment that the recommendation of a national scheme has not been followed up, others were pleased to see the federal government starting to take action on the issue of redress.

“This commitment by the government is important, because a nationally consistent approach has been identified as best meeting the needs of survivors,” says Uniting Church President Stuart McMillan.

“The government previously thought a single national scheme was too complex and difficult to resource, so we acknowledge and thank the government for its principled change of position towards a national approach.

“It is the Uniting Church’s view that the outcome of this approach must deliver adequate funding to implement and sustain a national response that includes flexible arrangements for counselling and psychological care for survivors and funder of last resort arrangements.”

According to the recent statement, the government will soon commence discussions with states and territories about core principles and processes for the assessment and payment of redress.

The Uniting Church in Australia acknowledges, apologises and expresses its deep regrets to any children who were sexually abused in its care, and is committed to working with survivors to make amends for what happened in the past.

“As a church that’s committed to justice and reconciliation, we continue to hope and pray that the Royal Commission process will provide an opportunity for healing, justice and reconciliation for all those who have suffered,” says Stuart.

“We are absolutely committed to promoting a child safe culture across our church councils, schools and agencies to make our church the safest place it can possibly be for children.”

More information about the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will be published in New Times as it becomes available.

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