About 450 institutions have signed up to the National Redress Scheme covering more than 60,650 sites including churches, children’s homes, schools, swimming centres and sports clubs.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said that since the Morrison Government had named and shamed a group of institutions in July, all other institutions that were required to join the Scheme by 31 December 2020, and had the capacity to do so, had now joined or were in the final stages of joining.
Swimming Australia, Tennis NSW, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Presbyterian Church WA, Seventh-Day Adventists, Football NSW and Missionaries of God’s Love, which were all named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, were among 135 organisations to join before 31 December.
“It is encouraging to see the measures the Morrison Government has put in place have proven to be effective for assisting survivors to access redress,” Minister Ruston said.
“The significant increase in the number of institutions participating in the Scheme means more applications can be progressed and survivors will not face unnecessary delays as they seek the redress which they have already waited so long to receive.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses, Kenja Communications and Fairbridge Restored Limited were named on 1 July 2020 having not joined the Scheme or signified an intent to join. These institutions have not revised their position to date.
While these three institutions refuse to participate, 77 applications from survivors of institutional abuse are unable to be processed at this time.
These institutions, and any institution which fails to join the Scheme within six months of being notified of its obligation to join, are ineligible for future Commonwealth grant funding and will be subject to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission revoking relevant charitable status.
Since 1 July, 337 applications were on hold because a named institution had not joined the Scheme and are now able to be progressed. A further 110 applications will move off hold when the first declaration of institutions is made for this year later this month.
In the first year after the Scheme was established in July 2018, 47 institutions joined, in the second year a further 176 institutions joined and now six months into the third year of operation another 223 will have joined when the January declaration is made.
As at 1 January 2021, the Scheme has received a total of 9,117 applications, 4,530 payments have been made totalling about $377 million and a further 540 offers are awaiting an applicant’s decision.
Minister Ruston acknowledged there was more work to be done to improve the Scheme to make sure more survivors were able to access redress.
“In the last six months the Scheme has worked with 11 institutions that have taken the necessary steps to join the Scheme but are unfortunately unable to participate at this time as they cannot currently meet the legislated requirements to join,” Minister Ruston said.
“The Scheme and Ministers’ Redress Scheme Governance Board will work through how we can best support survivors with applications related to these institutions as well as other issues considered by the second year review including funder of last resort provisions, the application process and the delivery of support services.
“The Government is absolutely committed to improving the Scheme for survivors and ensuring institutions take responsibility for past wrongs.”
Independent Reviewer Ms Robyn Kruk AO is due to report on the legislated second anniversary review of the National Redress Scheme in the first quarter of 2021.