Lawyers for abuse survivors are calling for government to impose strict financial penalties on institutions with that fail to sign up to the National Redress Scheme after it was revealed by the scheme’s governance board this week that compensation payments continue to be severely delayed.
Maurice Blackburn Abuse Law Principal Michelle James said it is vitally important that institutions sign up to the National Redress Scheme as until they do so survivors cannot have their applications processed.
“Financial penalties are needed in addition to naming and shaming institutions that fail to sign up to national redress,” Ms James said
“We are calling for relevant institutions that fail to join the scheme to be financially penalised, either through the suspension of all tax concessions, the suppression of charitable status, or through the removal of government funding in line with the recent announcement by the Victorian Government,” she said.
Ms James said that despite the 30 June deadline for institutions to sign up, according to the Redress Scheme Governance Board communique, many of those with the financial capacity to join the scheme are still not doing so.
“Clearly the carrot approach isn’t working, it’s high time for state and federal governments to bring out their big stick”, Ms James said.
“Unfortunately we are still seeing many institutions, including those identified in the Royal Commission, failing to sign up to the scheme with some survivors dying before they receive compensation.
“There are no excuses for institutions that have known for many months that they have been named in a redress application but have refused to join,” she said.
Ms James said that survivors deserve a scheme that stands true to the recommendations of the Royal Commission
“We continue to urge the Federal Government to step up as the funder of last resort for national institutions to ensure the scheme can operate efficiently,” Ms James said.
“State, territory and federal governments also need to agree to lift the maximum redress payment to $200,000 and adult survivors of abuse should be provided with professional counselling, in line with the Royal Commission recommendations.
“Finally, it is important remember that common law claims for compensation are available as an alternative to seeking limited compensation through the National Redress Scheme, and these claims are often more reflective of the severity of the abuse that survivors of institutional sexual abuse have suffered,” she said.