Ministers Redress Scheme Governance Board Communique

29 November 2019

On Friday, 29 November 2019, the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, hosted the Ministers Redress Scheme Governance Board (Board) meeting of relevant Ministers with responsibility for the National Redress Scheme in their state or territory.

Ministers acknowledged that whilst the Scheme has provided several hundred survivors with redress to date, the administration of the Scheme is not providing the fast, simple and trauma-informed response survivors deserve. Ministers committed to making every effort to improve the experience for survivors.

Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring that as many survivors of institutional child sexual abuse as possible have access to redress. Ministers noted that the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and 70 non-government organisations are now participating in the Scheme. The Scheme now covers more than 41,900 sites, such as churches, schools, children’s homes, charities and community groups across Australia.

Ministers emphasised the expectation and imperative for institutions to join the Scheme without delay.  Ministers agreed that it is unacceptable that institutions with redress liability have not sought to join the Scheme. All jurisdictions agreed to consider the use of all available levers to encourage non-participating institutions to join as a matter of urgency.

Ministers welcomed the recent progress in improving application processing with over 531 applications finalised since
1 July 2019. This is already a marked improvement on the Scheme’s first 12 months, which saw 239 applications finalised.

However, Ministers agreed that the Scheme needs to continue to improve and expedite the finalisation of applications to reduce the impact on applicants. The Commonwealth and jurisdictions will develop a reporting framework that sets out appropriate timeframes for finalising applications.

Ministers welcomed the additional $11.7 million in Commonwealth funding that will further help improve the Scheme’s operations and support for survivors. Ministers agreed on initiatives to better support and engage with survivors and reduce the number of different people with whom a survivor has to deal with while their application is being processed and engaging more decision makers to finalise applications as quickly as possible.

Ministers acknowledged that, while the Scheme is inherently complex, greater accountability is required to promote and ensure survivors and public confidence in the Scheme. Ministers agreed that the transparency of the operations of the Scheme must improve.

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