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In our continuing series on issues related to historical child sexual abuse, the Professional Standards Office outlines the key elements of the National Redress Scheme.

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The National Redress Scheme was part of the 122 recommendations handed down by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in December 2017. The scheme acknowledges many children were sexually abused in Australian institutions in the past and recognises the suffering endured as a consequence of this abuse.

For survivors to access the scheme institutions are required to become signatories. Adelaide Archdiocese, Port Pirie Diocese and Darwin Diocese signed up to the scheme in 2019. You can find out if other institutions have signed up at www.nationalredress.gov.au/institutions/search.

The aims of the scheme are:

  1. to ensure institutions are held accountable;
  2. to promote constancy in delivering a response to survivors;
  3. to assist survivors who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse gain access to support in the form of financial assistance, counselling and psychological assistance and a direct personal response from the institution.

Survivors can complete an application online using MyGov or by paper. A survivor will not be asked to share their experiences face to face but submit their information in writing. Applicants are encouraged to have a support person they can trust during the process. There are support services on the scheme’s website and a free, confidential and independent legal service can be accessed via Knowmore Legal Service to provide information and support to applicants.

Only essential information is available to the institution/s and in most cases, only a redacted version of an application is supplied. The scheme does not pass on an applicant’s personal details such as an address or phone numbers. The institution is not able to make contact with the applicant at any stage during the process. Any information an applicant shares with the scheme is protected by the Privacy Act 1988 and the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Act 2018.

An Independent Decision Maker (IDM) will consider what happened to a victim at the time of the abuse and take into account the impacts upon an applicant’s life. Payments can vary and it is up to the IDM to determine whether or not an applicant is eligible for any payment. The scheme also provides applicants with access to counseling.

Contact from an institution can only occur if a direct personal response (DPR) is requested by the applicant and after an offer is made by the scheme. If a DPR is requested, applicants are provided with the contact details of the institutional representative and are encouraged to make contact in their own time. Having a DPR from the institution is not compulsory.

By January 3 this year, the scheme had received 5829 applications from survivors. The scheme processed 3733 applications, made 1194 decisions and made 975 payments.

The scheme will run for 10 years and applications can be made any time before June 2027.

If you or anyone you know would like to access the National Redress Scheme go to
www.nationalredress.gov.au or call 1800 737 377. For information on Knowmore, visit
www.knowmore.org.au or call 1800 605 762.
For Victim Support Services phone 1800 842 846, www.victimsa.org

If you would like to lodge a complaint directly with the Church contact the South Australia & Northern Territory Professional Standards Office on 08 8210 8275.

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