UPDATE: The West Australian government has ruled out increasing an ex gratia compensation offer to a group of victims of sexual abuse at state-run hostels.
Former Supreme Court justice Peter Blaxell handed down his report on the abuse in September and Premier Colin Barnett apologised to the victims, saying they could apply for up to $45,000 in compensation, an amount beyond Mr Blaxell’s recommendations.
The report came after a lengthy inquiry that focused first on events in the 1970s and 80s at the St Andrews Hostel in Katanning, run by notorious pedophile brothers Dennis and Neil McKenna.
The inquiry was later expanded to St Christopher’s hostel in Northam, Hardie House in South Hedland and St Michael’s House in Merredin.
On Tuesday, the abuse survivors marched on parliament, threatening to sue the state government unless the compensation offer was not increased.
Mr Barnett said Mr Blaxell had applauded the WA government’s decision to set up an ex gratia scheme for victims.
“We recognise no amount of money is enough to compensate victims for the trauma and abuse they have suffered. However, the government has determined the fairest option available is to be consistent with the Redress scheme,” he said.
The Redress scheme was set up by the WA government in 2008 to acknowledge and apologise to people who were abused and neglected while they were in state care as children, but is now closed.
Mr Barnett said the ex gratia scheme would have no bearing on any civil damages that individuals might choose to pursue.
Victim and victim advocate Todd Jefferis said the WA government’s offer was “disgusting“, “paltry” and a “slap in the face”.
“We’ve all suffered various effects of the abuse and for the government to offer up to $45,000, and what they have previously offered us, is paltry,” Mr Jefferis said.
The protest on Tuesday came after the federal government announced a royal commission to examine responses to child sexual abuse across all religious institutions, state-based organisations, schools and not-for-profit groups such as scouts and sporting clubs.
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