2. Engagement of survivors

During the course of its public hearings, the Committee heard evidence that survivors must be engaged during the review process, and that the voices of survivors must inform any conclusions the review draws.
The Alliance for Forgotten Australia stated that they would like to see a collaboration or partnership between survivors and the second anniversary review:
We’d like to be engaged in the design of the review – in the way the review will be undertaken. Then, we’d like to be engaged not just in the design but in galvanising our members for their input into it, and we’d maybe like to support other people in providing input into that review. It’s not something that we would prefer be done just by government at arm’s length; we would prefer us to be an integral part of that. That’s what’s going to give it legitimacy.1
While not speaking directly to the second anniversary review,
Ms Larissa Kaput noted the exclusion of female Jehovah’s Witnesses survivors at earlier consultation around the NRS, and recommended that at least one be included in all future Committee roundtables. The Committee sees merit in this cohort being included in consultation for the second anniversary review.2
One survivor provided an example from a New South Wales Drug Summit held in 1999 to illustrate how the involvement of survivors could add value to the review process:
I made it a rule that, when the people who were developing the policy… went into a particular institution, none of the management or doctors on anybody could be in the room with the attendees of the summit. The attendees were face to face with actual drug addicts.3
The survivor argued that this approach ‘enabled the summit to come up with some very life affirming views’, and that this would not have been possible had doctors, clinicians and managers ‘spoken on behalf of the drug addicts’. According to the survivor:
That’s where we are at the moment: we have perfectly good people speaking on behalf of survivors, but they don’t really know. Until that happens, it won’t get better.4
The Clergy Abuse Network (CAN) told the Committee that, in its dealings with survivors, people make a lot of recommendations that would be useful to the second anniversary review. According to CAN, ‘the people who were abused, the victims-survivors, don’t look at the finer detail of these things; they look at the things that affect them the most’.5
CAN suggested that, given a lot of survivors have ‘had their education taken from them’ the views of survivors could be captured through the attendance of supporting groups, perhaps via ‘one person or a reserve person from each of these organisations’. CAN further emphasised that many organisations have varying perspectives based on their focus, and that capturing these different views was desirable.6

Committee comment

The input of survivors is central to the future success of the second anniversary review. In the Committee’s view, no one is better placed to speak to the extent to which the NRS provides fast, simple and trauma-informed responses to applications for redress than the people that are subject to the NRS. The Committee would like to ensure consultation is meaningful and that views of survivors directly impact outcomes.
The Committee believes the second anniversary review needs to directly engage with survivors, both through their support organisations and directly, through roundtables and hearings, to receive their feedback on the functioning of the NRS, and in particular how their lived experience of the NRS can be improved for survivors.

Recommendation 1

The Committee recommends the National Redress Scheme make a more concerted effort to engage with survivors and survivor groups. Specifically:
ensure the National Redress Scheme Survivor Roundtable is convened at a minimum of three times a year; and
ensure the second anniversary legislated review formally engages with survivors and survivor groups at the beginning of the review process, throughout the review and at its conclusion.

  • 1
    Mr Boris Kaspiev, Alliance for Forgotten Australia, Committee Hansard, 19 March 2020, p. 2.
  • 2
    Ms Larissa Kaput, Committee Hansard, 19 March 2020, p. 39.
  • 3
    Robert, Committee Hansard, 6 April 2020, p. 17.
  • 4
    Robert, Committee Hansard, 6 April 2020, p. 17.
  • 5
    Mr Bob O’Toole, Clergy Abuse Network, Committee Hansard, 30 March 2020, p. 22.
  • 6
    Mr Bob O’Toole, Clergy Abuse Network, Committee Hansard, 30 March 2020, p. 23.

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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