knowmore’s Executive Officer Warren Strange was interviewed by Samantha Donovan from the ABC regarding the delays in processing National Redress Scheme applications. You can read the transcript of the interview below.
THOMAS ORITI: The National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse has been running for 19 months but from nearly 6000 applications only 975 people have received payments. The Morrison Government says it’s working to make the scheme more accountable and transparent. A new parliamentary inquiry into its implementation is getting underway. But survivors and their advocates say the Government is yet to respond to the recommendations of the last one. Samantha Donovan has this report.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The Redress Scheme is proving to be a let down for many abuse survivors, like this man, who wants to be known as Bob.
BOB: Where the Royal Commission had recommended $200,000 and then the Government said no, $150,000 at the most and the lowest payment was about $7000 and something. It’s not what it all seemed to be.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: knowmore is an independent national community legal centre. It’s being funded by the Federal Government to help survivors apply for redress. It’s Executive Officer Warren Strange says application are taking months to process and many are stalled because some of the offending institutions are yet to sign up to the scheme.
WARREN STRANGE: At least a fifth of the clients that we are supporting are quite elderly, or often in very poor health, and some of those people have terminal illnesses and are very keen to try and pursue any claim to see some measure of justice.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Are you finding that many of these people are, sadly, dying before their application is processed.
WARREN STRANGE: We’ve had that happen with a number of our clients unfortunately.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Mr Strange says the Federal Government does deserve credit though for recently boosting the scheme’s resources and that’s led to an increase in the number of applications processed.
Last April a federal parliamentary committee made 29 recommendations for improving the Redress Scheme. They included: increasing the maximum payment from $150,00 to $200,000, developing a new assessment framework, expanding the counselling and psychological services for survivors, and giving them more information about the progress of their applications. But the Federal Government is yet to respond to those recommendations even though another Parliamentary Inquiry is getting underway. knowmore’s Warren Strange.
WARREN STRANGE: Those matters to be addressed require consensus across the Commonwealth and the State Governments, so we’d like to see those issues responded to.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: The Federal Government is expecting every offending institution to join the scheme by the end of June this year. It says the number of non-government institutions participating has now reached 162, up from 67 late last year. Warren Strange has a message for the laggards.
WARREN STRANGE: Get on with it. You’ve had 18 months. One of the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee was that if institutions don’t join the scheme then government should look at reducing their taxation concessions and their charitable benefits.
SAMANTHA DONOVAN: A spokesman for the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Anne Ruston, has told AM – the Morrison Government recognises the Scheme isn’t performing at the level it wanted it to and the Government intends to release its response to the parliamentary committee report early this year. He added the Minister has told the institutions that haven’t signed up to stop dragging their feet.
THOMAS ORITI: Samantha Donovan and AM now understands the Government is intending to provide the parliamentary committee with a copy of its response early next week. If this story has raised concerns for you or anyone you know, you can call Lifeline on 131114.
Listen to the interview: “Redress scheme must be changed, survivors and advocates warn”