Ministers’ Redress Scheme Governance Board Communique12 October 2022
The Ministers responsible for the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (the Scheme) met via video conference on 7 October 2022.
Ministers confirmed their resolute and ongoing commitment to improving support for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse.
A key decision will now provide survivors with formal input into the Scheme’s operations by incorporating the Survivor Roundtable into the formal governance arrangements, which will embed a survivor voice within the Scheme.
Ministers had positive and constructive discussions to allow the Scheme to move forward on Second Year Review (the Review) recommendations, which are subject to further approval by state and territory governments.
As a result, the Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP, committed to deliver a final Australian Government response to the Review by early 2023.
A significant resolution was to provide survivors with the option of having their application reassessed if it was finalised without a responsible institution participating in the Scheme and the institution subsequently joins the Scheme or government(s) agree to act as Funder of Last Resort. This will provide greater access to the redress outcomes survivors are ultimately entitled to.
Another central discussion topic was introducing ‘no worse off’ provisions so redress offers are not reduced on review, with discretion so decisions may be corrected to account for new information.
Ministers also recognised the implementation of a number of further initiatives that deliver on Review recommendations, including:
- introducing the Service Charter for the National Redress Scheme, which helps survivors understand what they can expect from the Scheme
- introducing a new Direct Personal Response (DPR) Information and Support Service to assist applicants in receiving a DPR from institutions responsible for their abuse
- appointing a panel of chief Independent Decision Makers to enhance the quality and consistency of decision making
- expanding the number of Redress Support Services available across Australia to improve access and support to people who are engaging with the Scheme, and the introduction of dedicated financial counselling for redress applicants.
Ministers supported work led by the Commonwealth to update internal training and guidance material for Independent Decision Makers on the consistent application of the reasonable likelihood standard of proof, and providing clearer guidance to applicants on information to include when applying to the Scheme.
Key Review improvements implemented since mid-2021 include the establishment of Advance Payments, expanded Funder of Last Resort Arrangements and removing the requirement to provide a statutory declaration when making an application to the Scheme.
Ministers acknowledged the significant effort and ongoing work undertaken by the Commonwealth and states and territories to improve survivors’ experience with the Scheme. As at 30 September 2022, more than 600 institutions have joined the Scheme and 19,387 applications have been received. 10,693 outcomes have been issued to applicants, with payments made to date totalling $831 million, at an average payment of $87,541.