Ministers Redress Scheme Governance Board Communique10 December 2021
On Friday 10 December, 2021, 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 for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (the Scheme) in their state or territory.
Ministers acknowledged the implementation of a number of recommendations from the second year review of the National Redress Scheme which assessed the operation of the Scheme two years after its commencement. Most significantly, these include:
- the introduction of advance payments of $10,000 for elderly or terminally ill applicants,
- changes to the date for which indexation of a prior payment is calculated to be when a survivor submits an application to the Scheme,
- enabling survivors to receive redress payments in instalments, providing greater choice and control over how they receive their payment, and
- the expansion of Funder of Last Resort (FOLR) arrangements to enable governments to step in as FOLR, on a case-by-case basis, for:
- named defunct institutions with no parent institution or representative to take responsibility including where a government institution is not equally responsible for the abuse; and
- institutions that do not have the financial capacity to participate in the Scheme.
The Commonwealth reaffirmed the need for senior sporting organisations to join the Scheme and take responsibility for community clubs. Ministers agreed in-principle that the expanded FOLR provisions would not apply to sporting organisations that are defunct or unable to meet the legislative requirements of the Scheme if a senior related sporting body with the means to join exists. Exceptions to this approach will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Ministers had positive, constructive discussions, which will allow the Scheme to further consider a number of the Review recommendations, including:
- changes to the eligibility criteria for certain survivor groups including people applying from gaol and non-Australian citizens and non-permanent residents who experienced institutional sexual abuse in Australia as children
- changes to the internal review process for applications
- reviewing the protected information legislative framework to enable appropriate disclosure while maintaining safeguards in relation to the confidentiality and privacy of applicants.
The Board will continue to consider these and other recommendations from the Review. Further consultation with survivors, survivor advocacy groups and institutions as appropriate will inform this consideration.
Ministers acknowledged the ongoing work to reduce the time it takes to progress applications. As at 31 December 2021, more than 13,194 applications had been received by the Scheme. Offers have been made in relation to 8,113 matters, while a further 3,975 are in progress. Payments made to date total $617.7 million, with an average payment of $86,055.
Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to improving the Scheme’s responsiveness to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. The Board identified improving the Scheme’s processes, increasing the quality and uptake of Direct Personal Response and Counselling and Psychological Care services, as well as enhancing engagement with Indigenous Australians, people with disability, care leavers and unconnected survivors as priorities in 2022.