Lawyers for abuse survivors have today welcomed the announcement that more than 300 additional sites have joined the National Redress Scheme, but said the scheme continued to have a long way to go in delivering proper access to justice for survivors.
Maurice Blackburn national head of Abuse Law Michelle James said while it was encouraging to see more organisations sign on to the redress scheme, many aspects of the scheme remained at odds with key recommendations of the Royal Commission.
“We welcome that more organisations and sites are joining the redress scheme – that is vitally important in enabling those survivors seeking redress via the scheme against these organisations to be able to do so,” Ms James said.
“We also join with the Federal Government in calling out those organisations who continue to resist joining the redress scheme or are failing to put aside their own internal dysfunction, as we have seen occur within the Catholic Church, so related organisations can join the scheme.
“To this end we continue to urge the Federal Government to consider stripping the charity status of such organisations if they persist with not joining the redress scheme – this is something we have long advocated for to ensure organisations apply greater urgency to signing on to the scheme and doing the right thing by survivors.
“However, we also continue to hold a number of concerns with the redress scheme in its current form, namely that in many important aspects the current scheme is out of step with recommendations made by the Royal Commission.
“This includes capping the maximum amount payable under the scheme at $150,000 when the Royal Commission recommended $200,000, as well as significant differences in allocations for counselling and other support services that should be made available to survivors.
“A Senate Committee has already examined the operation of the redress scheme and found it lacking in many respects, and we call on the Federal Government to implement the Committee’s recommendations.
“The national redress scheme is a vitally important step for many survivors seeking access to justice and it is critical that all relevant organisations support and join the scheme, but we must also get the scheme right to ensure it can genuinely assist survivors as intended,” she said.