Lawyers for abuse survivors have welcomed legislation that will see the naming and shaming of institutions and the striping of charitable status for institutions that have still not signed up to the National Redress Scheme that will be tabled in Federal Parliament next week.
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.
“Unfortunately 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.
“It’s now clear that only thing any of these institutions understand is the imposition of tough financial penalties and public shaming,” Ms James said
Ms James said that despite the 30 June deadline or institutions to sign up around 80 have still failed to do so despite having the financial capacity to join the scheme.
“Clearly the carrot approach has not worked in these cases, it’s high time for state and federal governments to bring out their big stick”, Ms James said.
“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 one such institution is the Jehovah’s Witnesses, which has been singled out as one of the most prominent holdouts
“In our experience the Jehovah’s Witnesses are one of the worst offenders when it comes to delaying claims and withholding relevant documents.
“Their failure to sign up to redress is just another example of the hard tactics that they employ when defending claims by survivors, which is contrary to the recommendations of the Royal Commission.
Ms James said that survivors deserve a scheme that stands true to the recommendations of the Royal Commission
“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.
“We also 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.
“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.