Introduction and background
Purpose of the bills
The focus of this inquiry by the Community Affairs Legislation Committee
(committee) is to review the provisions of two bills introduced in the House of
Representatives which together establish a National Redress Scheme for
Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (National Redress Scheme, the
The Scheme proposed by the bills will provide eligible survivors of
institutional child sexual abuse (survivors) with three elements of redress:
- a monetary payment of up to $150 000;
- access to counselling and psychological services; and
- a direct personal response from the responsible institution or
The two bills under review are the National Redress Scheme for
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2018 (National Redress Bill) and the National
Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Consequential Amendments)
Bill 2018 (National Consequential Bill).
The introduction of these bills into the House of Representatives was triggered
by the introduction of bills into the New South Wales (NSW) and Victorian
Parliaments which will refer powers from each state for the purposes of
section 51 (xxxvii) of the Australian Constitution (Constitution) and allow the
Commonwealth to make laws about matters relating to redress for institutional
child sexual abuse.
Previous inquiry and the Commonwealth Redress Scheme bills
The Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Royal
Commission) was established in January 2013 in response to allegations of the
sexual abuse of children in institutional settings in Australia. The Royal
Commission released its Redress and Civil Litigation Report in September
2015 which formed the basis of the recommendations made in its December 2017 Final
Report (Royal Commission Report). The Royal Commission Report contained 409 recommendations, of which 84
related to the establishment of a redress scheme.
As the Commonwealth did not have the power to legislate a national
scheme without one or more states first referring constitutional powers, a
Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
(Commonwealth Redress Scheme), to commence on 1 July 2018, was initially
proposed as a 'first step' towards a single National Redress Scheme.
Two bills intended to establish the Commonwealth Redress Scheme—the Commonwealth
Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2017 (Commonwealth
Redress Bill) and the Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child
Sexual Abuse (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017 (Commonwealth
Consequential Bill)—were introduced into the House of Representatives on 26
The provisions of those bills for a Commonwealth Redress Scheme were
referred to the committee for inquiry and report on 30 November 2017. The committee received over 90 submissions to that inquiry and heard evidence
from 32 organisations and 13 individuals. The committee presented its
report to the Senate on 28 March 2018, making 11 recommendations. Australian Labor
Party Senators made a further ten recommendations, and the Australian Greens
The consolidated submission from Australian Government Departments to
the current inquiry states that in developing the National Redress Scheme, the
government has agreed to ten of the committee's recommendations and partially
agreed one. Furthermore, the government has agreed to four of the
recommendations from Australian Labor Party Senators and to the Australian
Green's recommendation. The Government's Response to these recommendations has been considered in the
committee's assessment of the National Redress Scheme bills in Chapter 2.
In the previous inquiry, the committee noted that the Commonwealth
Redress Bill represented a point in time while detailed discussions proceeded
with state and territory governments, non-government institutions and survivor
groups. The Department of Social Services (Department) informed the committee
that, if a state government agreed to provide a constitutional referral and participate
in the Scheme, a new National Redress Bill would be introduced.
States and territories opt-in to a National Redress Scheme
On 9 March 2018, the governments of NSW and Victoria announced their
intentions to join a National Redress Scheme and have since introduced legislation to refer necessary constitutional powers
to the Commonwealth in anticipation of a 1 July 2018 commencement.
The National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child
Sexual Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Bill 2018 (NSW) was introduced into the NSW
Legislative Assembly on 1 May 2018 and passed Parliament on 16 May 2018. The National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual
Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Bill 2018 (Vic) was introduced into the
Victorian Legislative Assembly on 8 May 2018 and passed Parliament on 6 June
The Queensland Government announced its intention to join the National
Redress Scheme on 30 April 2018, but will not introduce legislation in time for a 1 July 2018 commencement.
It is therefore anticipated that Queensland will begin its participation in the
Scheme in late 2018.
The Tasmanian Government announced its intention to join the Scheme on
22 May 2018 and the South Australian Government on 28 May 2018. Western Australia became the last state to agree to join the Scheme on 13 June
2018. Each of these states will also need to introduce legislation to participate in
The governments of both the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory have announced their participation in the National Redress Scheme from 1 July
2018. The application of the National Redress Bill in the territories is based
on the legislative powers that the Commonwealth Parliament has under section
122 of the Constitution to make laws for a government of a territory and does
not require any referral of powers from the territories.
Any state which has not referred constitutional powers for the National
Redress Scheme before the commencement date will have two years from that date
to do so and become a participating state.
However, at the commencement of the Scheme, survivors of abuse which
occurred in non-participating states will still be eligible under the National
Redress Scheme if a Commonwealth or participating territory institution was
primarily responsible for that abuse. Furthermore, the Department will accept applications from all survivors and
will inform survivors that their applications will be held until the relevant
state (or institution) joins the Scheme.
The Intergovernmental Agreement on the National Redress Scheme for
Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Intergovernmental Agreement) was
published by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on 1 May 2018. This document sets out agreement between the Commonwealth and participating
state and territory governments on certain aspects of the Scheme and affirms
The development and implementation of the Scheme is a shared
responsibility of the Commonwealth and participating state and territory
The commitments outlined in the Intergovernmental Agreement will
commence for each participating state and territory as soon as it is signed by
the relevant premier or chief minister.
Overview of the National Redress Scheme bills
The Australian Government consulted with a broad range of stakeholders
to develop the National Redress Scheme and the bills to establish it.
The committee detailed the nature of these consultations, through to the
development of the earlier Commonwealth Redress Scheme bills, in the report of
its previous inquiry.
In introducing the bills for the National Redress Scheme, the Minister
indicated that the current bills:
...[align] with the views of the Independent Advisory Council
on Redress, which included many survivor groups, as well as the views of
jurisdictions and non-government institutions.
National Redress Bill
The National Redress Bill will establish the National Redress Scheme,
commencing on 1 July 2018. The Minister stated that:
The establishment of the scheme is an acknowledgement by the
Australian government and participating governments that sexual abuse suffered
by children in institutional settings was wrong. It was a betrayal of trust. It
should never have happened.
It recognises the suffering survivors have experienced and
accepts that these events occurred and that institutions must take
responsibility for this abuse.
The National Redress Scheme will be survivor-focused and trauma-informed
in its approach. It is intended to provide a means to access a 'sense of
justice' for those survivors who are unable to pursue legal avenues and to be
'faster, simpler and less distressing for survivors' than civil litigation.
Redress offered under the Scheme will consist of three elements. A
survivor can accept redress in the form of any or all of:
- a monetary payment of up to $150 000;
- access to counselling and psychological services, either through
access to services funded by the Commonwealth for the Scheme, or through a
lump-sum payment of up to $5000; and
- a direct personal response from the responsible institution or
The National Redress Bill sets out provisions for the operation of the
- The establishment, operation and reporting of the Scheme, and the
constitutional basis for the Scheme.
- Entitlement to and eligibility for redress under the Scheme,
including special rules to deal with exceptional cases, such as following the death
of an applicant or where an applicant has a serious criminal conviction or is
subject to a security notice.
- The application and determination processes for claims for
redress, including the application of assessment guidelines and the
determinations of payments.
- How offers are made, the process for accepting or declining those
offers, and provision of redress to applicants after an offer is accepted.
- The parameters for participating institutions and participating
jurisdictions, including provisions for defunct institutions and groups of
- Financial matters, such as liability for funding, funders of last
resort, and debt recovery.
- The application and provision of National Redress Scheme Rules.
- Administrative provisions relating to reviews of determinations,
the role of nominees, and protecting information.
National Consequential Bill
The National Consequential Bill supports the establishment of the National
Redress Scheme through proposed amendments to other Commonwealth legislation
relevant to the operation of the Scheme.
The National Consequential Bill is structured in five schedules:
- Schedule 1—proposes payments made under the National Redress
Scheme will be exempt from income tests for social security and veterans'
- Schedule 2—proposes payments made under the National Redress
Scheme will be excluded as property divisible among creditors for a bankrupt
Schedule 3—proposes decisions made in the National Redress Scheme
will be exempt from judicial review;
- Schedule 4—proposes exemption of protected information in the
National Redress Scheme from disclosure under Freedom of Information, and
protection of information relating to the National Redress Scheme for the
purposes of social security administration; and
Schedule 5—proposes exemption of the National Redress Scheme from
age discrimination law.
Similarity to Commonwealth Redress
The National Redress Bill and the National Consequential Bill are
significantly similar in content to the preceding Commonwealth Redress Bill and
Commonwealth Consequential Bill.
As those preceding bills were examined in detail in a previous inquiry,
the committee has limited its examination in this inquiry to provisions of the
bills which are entirely new, have been subject to a significant change (i.e.
more than a formatting or minor text change), or have been the subject of continued
debate or concern among submitters.
The Australian Government committed $33.4 million in the 2017–18 Budget
to establish the National Redress Scheme. In the 2017–18 Mid-Year Economic and
Fiscal Outlook, a further $57.4 million was included over the forward estimates
to support the operation of the Scheme, including funding for Redress Support
Services to assist applicants to the Scheme. The remaining funding is not for
publication due to legal sensitivities.
During the previous inquiry, the Department informed the committee that
the then-current estimate for the total cost of operation for the Scheme was
$3.8 billion, which included both redress payments and the administration
Reports of other committees
The National Redress Bill and the National Consequential Bill had not
been considered by the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills
(Scrutiny committee) or the Parliamentary Joint Committee
on Human Rights (Human Rights committee) before the reporting date.
The consideration of the previous Commonwealth Redress Scheme bills by
the Scrutiny committee and the Human Rights committee was outlined and
discussed in detail in the committee's report into those bills.
Structure of this report
This report is structured in two chapters:
- This chapter is an introductory chapter which provides an
overview of the National Redress Scheme, including background information about
the committee's previous inquiry into bills for a Commonwealth Redress Scheme,
as well as administrative details.
- Chapter 2 discusses the operation and administration of the
proposed National Redress Scheme; changes from the previously proposed
Commonwealth Redress Scheme; and support for, and concerns raised about, the
provisions of the bills.
Conduct of the inquiry
On 10 May 2018, the Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP,
introduced the bills in the House of Representatives.
Also on 10 May 2018, pursuant to the adoption of the Selection of Bills
Committee report, the bills were referred to the committee for inquiry and
report by 15 June 2018, contingent on their introduction into the House of
The committee advertised the inquiry on its website and invited
submissions by 1 June 2018. Submissions continued to be accepted after this
The committee received 40 public submissions which were published on the
committee's website. One further submission was accepted as confidential.
Submissions received are listed at Appendix 1 of this report.
The committee would like to thank the organisations and individuals who
have provided submissions to this inquiry. In particular, the committee acknowledges
the bravery of those survivors who have made submissions.
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