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Is the National Redress Scheme an Adequate Apology?

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was established to investigate the alleged sexual abuse that thousands of children experienced at various institutions across Australia.

This institutional child abuse took place at foster centres, children’s homes, churches, schools, sports clubs, orphanages, and virtually every institution which caters to children. They uncovered thousands of victims over a span of many generations.

The Commission never imagined it would find so many abused victims in the course of the five-year investigation.

When the Royal Commission submitted its final report, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered a national apology to all the victims and survivors.

To compensate these victims, the Australian government established the National Redress Scheme.

This compensation scheme provides victims with monetary payments, counselling services, and personal apologies and accountability from the offending institutions.

Unfortunately, many of the victims are not happy with the National Redress Scheme and how it is functioning.

They’ve made complaints about the scheme which include delays, low-ball payments and reliving their abuse.

If the National Redress Scheme is supposed to be the government’s way of apologizing to the victims, then it certainly doesn’t seem to be resonating with them.

Below are the top 5 complaints that victims have about the National Redress Scheme.

Claims Processing is Too Slow

The National Redress Scheme has been active for about four months now. From July to October, around 1,500 applications were received by the scheme.

However, only a small percentage of those applicants have received compensatory payments. The Scheme estimates there will be over 60,000 people who qualify for compensation.

To afford to pay all these victims, the Scheme needs to raise $4 billion from the participating institutions. Sadly, only a third of the institutions in question have signed up. This means it will take a lot longer to process claims because they don’t have the money to pay them all.

Survivors Must Relive Abuse for Application

When an institutional child abuse victim fills out their application, they are required to specify the nature of their abuse. This information is needed because it will determine how much monetary compensation they receive.

For instance, if the nature of the sexual abuse involved actual penetration, then the victim is entitled to the maximum payout amount for the scheme, which has dropped from $200,000 to $150,000. Regardless, survivors are forced to relive the abuse just to apply for the scheme.

4) Payment Cap is Unfair to Survivors

The payment cap for institutional child sex abuse survivors is $150,000. A lot of the survivors feel this amount is too little, too late and does not even begin to make up for the emotional suffering they went through.

This suffering not only applies to the experience itself but also to the many years they’ve had to live with the memories of these horrible events.

5) Exclusion of Survivors with Criminal Backgrounds

Survivors who have serious criminal backgrounds usually get excluded from the National Redress Scheme. Australian human rights sectors claim this is a violation of these survivors’ human rights because they are still just as much of a victim as the others.If an applicant has served prison terms of 5 years or greater, their application is usually excluded.

Some Members and  Senators are now trying to repeal this exclusion. 

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