Chair's Foreword

The establishment of the National Redress Scheme in 2018 has made a symbolic and practical contribution to the pursuit of justice for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
However, as this Interim Report will demonstrate, much more needs to be done to improve the experience of survivors when seeking redress through the Scheme.
The purpose of this first Interim Report is to reassure survivors that your voice has been heard, your experiences have been noted, and the issues you have identified will be front and centre as the Scheme evolves over the next twelve months.
The report ‘Getting the National Redress Scheme right: An overdue step towards justice’ suggested the Scheme should be measured against three core principles:
the Scheme must be survivor-focussed and trauma-informed;
the Redress process must proceed on the basis of ‘do no further harm’ to the survivor; and
amendments to the Scheme must be subject to proper consultation with key survivor groups.
While some progress has been made, it is clear that we are not there yet.
This observation is acknowledged by Scheme operators, who have said the Scheme “is not providing the fast, simple and trauma-informed response that survivors deserve.”
Under the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Abuse Act 2018, the National Redress Scheme must be reviewed after two years of operation.
With the Second Anniversary Review set to commence prior to 1 July 2020, it was important to produce an Interim Report to highlight priority issues and inform the direction of this review.
This Interim Report recommends the Second Legislated Anniversary Review be undertaken by a reputable individual familiar with the operation of redress schemes, include the participation of survivors, and report by 30 January 2021.
Although this Interim Report does not consider all aspects of the National Redress Scheme, the Committee has agreed to examine certain complex matters in greater detail and provide a second Interim Report by 30 January 2021.
A number of issues identified in this Interim Report can be addressed immediately to improve the survivor experience, including:
removing the requirement for a Statutory Declaration to accompany each application for redress; and
amendment to the indexation of prior payments, so that indexation is applied up until the date an application is submitted, rather than the date of payment offer.
Other recommendations involve initiatives that will improve the transparency of the Scheme for survivors, including:
providing each applicant with an individualised application flowchart which maps out next steps and approximate timeframes, to keep survivors and their nominees better informed about the progress of their application;
publishing the Assessment Framework Policy Guidelines; and
establishing a direct complaint avenue for survivors, their nominees, and advocates.
Adequate, timely access to counselling and psychological care services, including specialist financial counselling, for survivors continues to be of significant concern to the Committee, especially for survivors requiring culturally appropriate support, or those who reside in regional and remote areas.
The Committee has also recommended the Scheme undertake immediate steps to ensure it is as responsive as possible to the increased levels of stress, anxiety and more limited access to support services experienced by survivors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most pressing factor facing the Scheme is the approaching legislated deadline of 30 June 2020, by which time institutions named in the Royal Commission or in applications to the Scheme can elect to participate.
It is the Committee’s strong view that every possible action must be taken against those institutions which fail to uphold their moral, social and ethical responsibilities by declining or unnecessarily delaying their participation in the Scheme.
The Committee believes early and full disclosure of non-participation by institutions is absolutely justified in the pursuit of justice for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
Consequently, the Committee has recommended the Scheme obtain a written statement from each institution that has not elected to join the Scheme prior to the deadline of 30 June 2020.
These statements must detail reasons for their delay, a list of the key officers of the institution, the expected joining date, and all financial benefits accrued by means of their charitable status and/or other sources of public funding or concessions received.
The Committee has recommended the list of institutions and their written statements be published on the National Redress Scheme website one week prior to 30 June 2020.
The Committee has further recommended that the Minister for Social Services convene the Minister’s Redress Scheme Governance Board by 30 July 2020 to review those institutions that have declined to join the Scheme, and to determine what actions will be taken to remove the charitable status and/or other sources of public funding or concessions from non-participating institutions.
Time is now the enemy of many survivors.
Every effort must now be placed on meeting the expectations set by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and then by the official Apology, so that more timely justice can be delivered for survivors and their families.
The Committee extends its thanks to the survivors, their families, and the advocacy groups who have made themselves available to participate in its early work.
Most importantly, survivors can be re-assured the Parliament continues to hear them.
Senator Dean Smith
30 April 2020

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About this inquiry

The Joint Select Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme was appointed by resolution of the House of Representatives on 10 September 2019 and resolution of the Senate on 11 September 2019.

Past Public Hearings

11 Oct 2021: Canberra
18 Aug 2021: Canberra
16 Aug 2021: Canberra