National Redress Scheme for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

A Shorten Labor Government will establish a National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

For too long in this country, children in the care of institutions were subjected to appalling sexual abuse and terrible violence.

No country should stand by and let this happen. 

No country should stand by and let perpetrators get away with these crimes.

Most importantly, no country should stand by and do nothing to help with the healing of survivors. 

The establishment a National Redress Scheme is a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and is a critical part of the process of healing.

Under Labor, it will happen.

Labor has carefully considered the recommendations of the Royal Commission with a full heart and open mind, knowing how important this issue of redress is to survivors.

In its final report on redress and civil litigation, the Royal Commission determined that around 60,000 survivors of child sexual abuse should be given access to redress. 

Labor is committed to ensuring they get the redress they deserve. 

In line with the Royal Commission’s recommendations, Labor believes the cost of redress must be met by institutions responsible for the perpetrators of the abuse. 

Labor will contribute $33 million to the National Redress Scheme.

As part of meeting its responsibility, a Shorten Labor Government will commit an initial $20 million to the establishment a National Redress Agency.

The National Redress Agency will oversee the implementation of a National Redress Scheme for victims of child sexual abuse in institutional settings.

This initial $20 million contribution will support the National Redress Agency to work with state and territory governments and responsible institutions to make this happen. 

The National Redress Agency would report to the Attorney General.

Labor established the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse 

Labor established the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to give the thousands of people affected by these evil crimes an opportunity to finally be heard.

Labor acknowledges the extraordinary men and women who have survived horrific abuse at the hands of institutions who have shared their painful accounts with the Royal Commission. 

The serious extent of the damage of child sexual abuse cannot be underestimated.

The Royal Commission has recommended that a National Redress Scheme should include:

  • A direct personal response from the responsible institution if desired, including but not limited to an apology;
  • Counselling and psychological care services; and
  • Monetary payment between $10,000 and $200,000 per victim to recognise the wrong suffered. The size of each payment would be determined by criteria assessing the severity of the abuse.

Labor knows that many people who have been abused are rightly seeking an apology from the institutions, and sometimes from the abuser: an apology which acknowledges and accepts responsibility for the harm and suffering the institution has caused.

An apology from perpetrators of abuse builds on the Apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants, delivered by the former Labor Government. 

Many survivors have a need for effective and ongoing counselling provided by appropriately qualified professionals. This comes at a cost, and survivors understandably look to the institutions responsible for those who committed the abuse to meet that cost.

In addition to suffering personal health issues, many survivors’ lives have been seriously compromised in other ways. In some cases the damage is so great that survivors have never been able to complete an education, establish satisfactory personal relationships and provide the security of a home and other basics of life. 

To help with these difficulties many survivors seek a money payment. For some a money payment brings an acknowledgment of the failure of the institution. For others it reflects a need for financial assistance to sustain their lives.

National Leadership for a National Redress Scheme

A Shorten Labor Government will provide national leadership by establishing a National Redress Scheme.

The Royal Commission has recommended a national scheme of redress, led by the Commonwealth Government. 

Labor believes a national scheme will help to provide a consistent response to anyone who may have been abused by any institution, wherever they are in Australia.

Abuse and the harm it causes cannot be distinguished by state, region, institution, diocese or parish.

Labor also knows survivors want a scheme which is independent, where any redress, including a financial response, is fair and consistent.

A national scheme will mean that redress can be provided regardless of:

  • which state or territory they were abused or now reside in;
  • whether the institution was a government or non-government institution;
  • whether the abuse occurred in more than one institution;
  • whether the institution still exists; or
  • the assets available to the institution.

In line with the Royal Commission’s recommendations, a Shorten Labor Government would work to make sure the redress scheme is ready to begin operation by mid‑2017. 

In order to meet this timing, the Royal Commission recommends:

  • By the end of 2015, the Commonwealth Government announce its support for a national redress scheme;
  • Throughout 2016, conduct negotiations with the States, Territories and institutions;
  • In the first half of 2017, establish the scheme and prepare and implement the systems and procedures necessary to begin handling applications for redress.

A Shorten Labor Government would keep to this timeframe.

Labor will continue to put the needs of survivors first

Labor strongly believes that redress should be survivor focused. 

All redress should be offered, assessed and provided with appropriate regard to the needs of particularly vulnerable survivors. 

To ensure the needs of survivors are central to all decision making, a Shorten Labor Government will establish a National Redress Advisory Council to work with all governments on the development and operation of the National Redress Scheme.

The National Redress Advisory Council will include representatives of:

  • survivor advocacy and support groups;
  • non-government institutions, particularly those that are expected to be required to respond to a significant number of claims for redress;
  • people with expertise in issues affecting survivors with disabilities;
  • people with expertise in issues of particular importance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors; and
  • people with expertise in psychological and legal issues relevant to survivors.

A proportion of the $20 million would support the National Redress Advisory Council.

Financial Implications 

The Royal Commission has recommended that the institutions responsible for those who committed abuse should be held be responsible for the costs of both the administration of the scheme and the actual redress. 

This includes institutions themselves, state and territory governments, and the Commonwealth where the Commonwealth is determined to be responsible.   

Labor will commit $33 million to implement the National Redress Scheme, including the initial costs of establishing the National Redress Agency. 

One of the first tasks of the National Redress Agency will be to negotiate with the states and territory governments and non-government institutions on the further costs of the scheme. 

The Royal Commission estimates that the total cost to all governments and non-government institutions of a national redress scheme at $4.01 billion. 

Labor’s proposed funding commitment includes an estimate of the Commonwealth’s obligations. Labor’s proposals have been costed by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.  

Labor’s proposed scheme has been informed by redress schemes in Ireland, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania. 

Funding for this policy will be offset from existing announcements Labor has made in making sure multinational companies pay their fair share of tax in Australia, reducing superannuation tax concessions and by abolishing the Emissions Reduction Fund.

You can access a printable PDF version of this fact sheet by clicking here.