1. Introduction

Background to the interim report

1.1
The Joint Select Committee (Committee) was formed to inquire into the Australian Government policy, program and legal response to the redress related recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, including the establishment and operation of the Commonwealth Redress Scheme and ongoing support of survivors.
1.2
The Committee is required to table its final report in May 2022.
1.3
Section 192 of the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Act 2018 (the Act) provides that the relevant Minister must conduct a review of the National Redress Scheme (NRS) as soon as possible after the second anniversary of NRS operation. The Committee notes that the NRS commenced 1 July 2018, and as such, the review must commence prior to 30 June 2020.
1.4
Early in its deliberations, the Committee resolved that its first priority should be to review the early experience of survivors with the NRS and use their evidence to identify priority issues that should be addressed by the second anniversary review.
1.5
It is the Committee’s expectation that the Minister for Families and Social Services and the Department of Social Services (DSS) accept the findings in this interim report and ensure that the matters identified are incorporated into the terms of reference and design of the second anniversary review as a matter of priority.

Objectives and Scope
1.6
On 2 April 2020, the Committee announced that it would table an interim report into the implementation of the NRS to reflect the evidence received so far by the Committee.1
1.7
It remains the Committee’s intention that this report will inform the work and priorities of the legislated second anniversary review of the NRS which is to commence after 30 June 2020.
1.8
The Committee has resolved to finalise a second interim report before tabling its final report in May 2022.

Conduct

1.9
On 13 February 2020, the Committee issued a media release announcing initial public hearing program. Due to matters associated with COVID-19 on 16 March 2020, a separate media release was published noting the hearing program would continue as advised via teleconference.
1.10
Since the establishment of the Committee, six public hearings have been held. Transcripts can be found on the Committee website and a list of witnesses that appeared is at Appendix A.
1.11
The Committee invited submissions to be received by 29 May 2020, noting that submissions could be received after that date. The Committee also informed people that confidential and name withheld submissions would also be received. To date the Committee has received 20 submissions, which are listed at Appendix B.

Report Outline

1.12
Chapter 1 details the scope of the activities conducted to undertake the interim report and includes discussion of the Committees aims for the interim report.
1.13
Chapter 2 provides a background to the development of the NRS, and discusses how the government has implemented the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. Consideration of previous parliamentary committee findings is also included in this section.
1.14
Chapter 3 examines the NRS application process. The three components of an offer of redress including monetary payment, counselling services and direct personal responses are also examined.
1.15
Chapter 4 considers NRS participation and examines factors that may be influencing a survivor’s decision on whether to apply for redress through the NRS. The number and rate of institutions joining the NRS is also discussed.
1.16
Chapter 5 discusses the appropriateness of funder of last resort provisions within the Act.
1.17
Chapter 6 outlines areas that the Committee believe need to be examined in order to maximise the opportunities of the second anniversary review to deliver improved survivor experiences and outcomes from the NRS.
1.18
Throughout the interim report the Committee has included quotes that refer to the NRS as the scheme or redress scheme. The Committee has not amended these references.
1.19
Two appendices accompany this report and provide details on submissions received and a list of witnesses who appeared before the Committee.
1.20
A copy of this report, transcripts of hearings and submissions received are available on the Committee’s website at www.aph.gov.au/redress.

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