Witnesses at the first Perth royal commission public hearing into child sex abuse yesterday described feeling devalued, angry and betrayed after reliving their experiences only to have the State Government almost halve maximum pay-outs under the compensation scheme for abuse in care.
Child migrant Oliver Cosgrove, who told the hearing into four WA Christian Brothers' homes of his physical and sexual abuse at Clontarf and Castledare, said the application process under the WA Redress compensation scheme had been "onerous".
He said the Liberal-National State Government's decision to reduce the maximum payout under the scheme from $80,000 to $45,000 was "disgraceful and reprehensible".
"I found that the Redress WA process did not provide justice," Mr Cosgrove told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. "It provided an apology with a number on it," he said.
John Wells, who was also abused at Castledare and Clontarf with his twin brother, told the hearing he was not interested in receiving apologies, which were nothing more than an attempt to clear consciences.
"The Government then cut the amount of compensation in half," he said. "I felt like my experience was being devalued. Again, I felt like it was an attack on my self-worth."
Mr Wells said the scheme had helped his brother, who died last month, come to terms with his history after he had some intense counselling.
Counsel assisting the inquiry Gail Furness said that in 2007, the WA Government announced $114 million to recognise harm suffered by children abused in State care and that an extra $30 million was provided in September 2011.
Victims who could demonstrate significant harm from abuse were eligible for a maximum $80,000 when Redress WA was announced - but in 2009, the budget was slashed and the maximum payment was reduced to $45,000.