Hope for survivors as groups join scheme

Paul Osborne
·2-min read

Hundreds of applications by abuse survivors for redress will start to flow through in the wake of more institutions joining the support scheme.

But Families Minister Anne Ruston said she remained concerned three organisations had still not signed, meaning 77 applications from abuse survivors could not be progressed.

About 450 institutions have signed up to the national redress scheme covering more than 60,650 sites including churches, children's homes, schools, swimming centres and sports clubs.

Having named and shamed a number of institutions in July, more than 100 bodies signed up before December 31.

Among them were Swimming Australia, Tennis NSW, Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Presbyterian Church WA, Seventh-Day Adventists, Football NSW and Missionaries of God's Love - all of which were named in the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse.

"The significant increase in the number of institutions participating in the scheme means more applications can be progressed and survivors will not face unnecessary delays as they seek the redress which they have already waited so long to receive," Senator Ruston said in a statement on Monday.

Jehovah's Witnesses, Kenja Communications and Fairbridge Restored Limited have yet to join the scheme or signified an intent to join.

They face ineligibility for future commonwealth grant funding and revoking of their charitable status.

Senator Ruston said 337 applications which were on hold were now able to be progressed because of the recent institution signings.

A further 110 applications will move off hold when the first declaration of institutions is made for 2021 later this month.

At January 1, the scheme has received a total of 9117 applications and 4530 payments have been made totalling $377 million.

A further 540 offers are awaiting applicant decisions.

Senator Ruston said there was more work to be done to improve access to redress.

"In the last six months the scheme has worked with 11 institutions that have taken the necessary steps to join the scheme but are unfortunately unable to participate at this time as they cannot currently meet the legislated requirements to join," she said.

Work was under way on issues including "funder of last resort" provisions, the application process and the delivery of support services.

Last year the government injected an extra $104.6 million across four years into the scheme.

The second review of the scheme by retired senior public servant Robyn Kruk is due to be released by the end of March.

The scheme helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse gain access to counselling, a direct personal response, and a redress payment.

Applications can be made any time before June 30, 2027.