Redress money for funerals, headstones

Karen Sweeney

Survivors of institutional child sexual abuse will spend their compensation on finding a lost sibling, taking their first holiday or fixing their teeth, an advocate says.

The $3.8 billion national redress scheme is due to begin on July 1 and will provide counselling and up to $150,000 for survivors.

Leonie Sheedy started the Care Leavers Australasia Network after she was abused in a Geelong children's home.

"Their funerals, their teeth ... finding their siblings, finding their dead sibling's graves like Steve Irons did," she said, referring to the Liberal MP.

Mr Irons told parliament his sister was abused in foster care and buried in an unmarked grave after she died at 12 in institutional care.

"That's the sort of thing care leavers are going to be doing with their redress money," Ms Sheedy told AAP.

Some survivors want to take a holiday for the first time, having lived on disability payments because of the mental trauma and physical injuries they suffered.

The maximum payment is $150,000 though the average is expected to be $76,000.

Some have already received payments and are eligible for top-ups, determined by indexing their original payments for inflation at 1.9 per cent.

"The indexing is the most immoral issue," Ms Sheedy said.

"Never in their wildest dreams did they ever think the government would tax them on those past payments."

She described some past payments - $2,000 that a included a portion that went to lawyers - as "breadcrumbs".

The scheme will index next payments, including legal fees.

A Department of Social Services spokesperson told AAP the Royal Commission recommended inflation be taken into account for past payments, and the rate of inflation to be used by the scheme was lower than the consumer price index generally used to measure inflation.

The indexing is likely to play a role in how well an apology to abuse survivors is received later this year.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has promised an apology before the end of the year.

"They don't want an apology if they're going to be taxed, they don't want an apology if they're excluded from the redress," Ms Sheedy said.

The scheme sets exclusions for a number of people, including non-residents and non-citizens, those currently in prison and prisoners who have served more than five years in prison.

Ms Sheedy just wants people to be treated equally, including those who have fled Australia to escape memories of abuse as well as those who have gone on to commit appalling crimes.

"Otherwise we're allowing the churches and charities and state governments to get away with a crime that was committed on that child's body," she said.

Western Australia is the only state not signed up to the scheme, though an agreement is expected to be reached with six to eight weeks. It was joined last week by the Catholic and Anglican churches, the Scouts and YMCA.