Minister for Social Services Christian Porter yesterday introduced the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2017, which proposes capping payments at $150,000. It will also allow survivors access to counselling and a direct apology from the institution in which the abuse occurred.
Mr Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, said the Bill was just the start of what is looking to be a long process to get all states, territories and institutions into the scheme.
“Without state and territory support, according to the Minister, it is constitutionally impossible for state-based institutions to be part of the scheme.
“As it stands the proposed legislation can only cover those abused in Commonwealth institutions, which is about 1000 of an estimated 60,000 survivors.
“What is now very clear is that the Bill in its current form does not allow institutions which operate with state borders to be part of the scheme,” Mr Sullivan said.
He added this was a “huge issue” for the tens of thousands of people who were abused as children in institutions not run by the Commonwealth, including Catholic schools, orphanages and parishes.
“The Catholic Church has said from the very start of the discussions around redress that it supports and will be part of a national redress scheme as recommended by the Royal Commission.
“To achieve this the Federal Government now has to put in the hard work to get the states to come on board and play their part in delivering justice for all survivors, not just a relative handful abused in Commonwealth institutions.”