8. Other Review Considerations

Advance payments

The Committee is aware that in other jurisdictions – particularly Scotland – redress schemes have taken the step of making advance payments available to applicants, and this was raised by witnesses as a means to address, in part, the impact of COVID-19.
In April 2019, the Scottish Government announced an Advance Payment Scheme, which would enable vulnerable survivors of childhood abuse (aged 70 or over or with a terminal illness) to access an advance payment of £10,000 ahead of the passing of legislation to establish a Scottish statutory redress scheme.1 Following a review of the Advance Payment Scheme in December 2019, the eligible age threshold was lowered to those aged 68 and over, effective immediately.
The Care Leavers Australasian Network recommended an advance payment of $20,000 for applicants:
In light of the current coronavirus climate, all necessary precautions need to be taken to ensure our most vulnerable applicants will see some form of justice, acknowledgement and will get to utilise their redress payment and, at the very least, pay for their funerals.2
Relationships Australia Western Australia (RAWA) noted its concern with some aspects of this proposal, particularly in relation to the issue of financial literacy:
I wouldn’t want to prevent people from getting an earlier payment or a part-payment if those were things they wished to receive; however, it would tie in with some of the concerns raised by other professionals in various forums and other service providers. In some communities they are concerned about some individuals’ lack of ability to manage their finances, and in some communities they are concerned that there might be large amounts of money for that particular individual or that family and maybe multiple smaller payments in a small community at a similar time.3
Tuart Place raised the issue of survivors receiving an advance payment in cases where institutions have not opted-in to the scheme, but noted ‘it would seem reasonable for [survivors] to receive [an advance] payment for an institution that has’ opted-in.4
Tuart Place also noted that 11 of the survivors they are working with have already received an advance payment from the Scottish scheme. Dr White noted that the Advanced Payment Scheme is ‘a very simple process.’ 5

Committee comment

The Committee received a wide range of evidence on the time taken to process redress applications, as well as the perception that priority cases were not dealt with in a more expeditious manner than other applications. These concerns held by survivors have clearly been heightened by the current public health situation, as survivors with health vulnerabilities wonder whether their applications will be processed in time.
The Committee notes with interest the steps taken by the Scottish Government to institute advance payments for survivors who may not survive long enough to see the legislation of the Scottish redress scheme.
In the Committee’s view, the issue of making advance payments to elderly or otherwise vulnerable survivors should be included in the remit of the second anniversary review. This examination also needs to pay particular regard to the provision of appropriate financial support and advice to individuals who may receive any payments.

Recommendation 14

The Committee recommends that the second anniversary review investigate the appropriateness of the use of advance payments for survivors who are especially vulnerable as a high priority.

Institutions joining after the 30 June 2020 deadline

Given the legislative deadline for institutions to join the NRS is 30 June 2020, the possibility of an institution being identified as needing to join subsequent to the deadline was raised. It was highlighted that there is no existing mechanism that allows the institution to participate in the NRS.
Ms Juliet Davis, of Griffith University, noted that institutions that have both been identified recently and those that are identified after the 30 June 2020 deadline need to be treated differently to those who were identified during the Royal Commission or have otherwise had ample opportunity to join the scheme.6
CLAN stated that any institutions named in applications for the first time after 30 June 2020 should be required to join the scheme.7
The Australian Lawyers Alliance saw a need for ‘the life of the scheme to be extended, and extended significantly’ to deal with the issue of institutions being named in applications after 30 June 2020.8

Committee comment

Regardless of how these institutions engage with the NRS, as present given the 30 June 2020 deadline there appears to be no mechanism in place to facilitate institutions either named recently or after 30 June 2020.

Further, given the timelines involved in joining the scheme, the Committee sees a need to extend the deadline to allow for institutions to join after 30 June 2020. The means by which institutions named in applications are brought into the scheme needs to be a key focus on the second anniversary review, and the government should give strong consideration to implementing interim measures during the course of the second anniversary review to ensure that survivors are able to make applications against institutions that have not yet been made aware of their need to join the scheme.
Senator Dean Smith

  • 1
    Scottish Government, Redress for historical abuse survivors. Available at www.gov.scot/news/redress-for-historical-abuse-survivors. Accessed on 24 April 2020.
  • 2
    Care Leavers Australasia Network, Submission 17, p. 12.
  • 3
    Mr Reg Casley, Relationships Australia WA, Committee Hansard, 15 April 2020, p. 14.
  • 4
    Dr Phillipa White, Tuart Place, Committee Hansard, 15 April 2020, p. 20.
  • 5
    Dr Phillipa White, Tuart Place, Committee Hansard, 15 April 2020, p. 20.
  • 6
    Ms Juliet Davis, Griffith University, Committee Hansard, 15 April 2020, p. 5.
  • 7
    Ms Leonie Sheedy, Care Leavers Australasia Network, Committee Hansard, 19 April 2020, p. 30.
  • 8
    Dr Andrew Morrison RFD SC, Australian Lawyers Alliance, Committee Hansard, 30 March 2020, p. 19.

 |  Contents  | 

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