A study by the ACMS found that approximately one in four Australians have experienced childhood sexual abuse. As Australia continues to come to terms with this crisis, structures have been put in place to help recompense survivors — one being the National Redress Scheme.
This article explains the various aspects of the National Redress Scheme: what it is, the application process, compensation factors and how legal representation can help you throughout.
The National Redress Scheme was created to address institutional child sexual abuse. Its inception was in response to a pledge by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Abuse, whereby those who have experienced such abuse are able to pursue compensation while holding the responsible institution(s) accountable.
The scheme began in 2018 and is set to continue until 2028. Between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022, 5,987 applications were filed, of which 3,043 were deemed eligible for redress — and 2,713 registrants accepted their offer. During the same period, 1,331 institutions were held accountable.
The efficacy of the National Redress Scheme is largely dependent on the ongoing contribution and participation of the institutions in question: In 2018, the Royal Commission listed institutions that were expected to join the scheme, with each given until December 2020 to opt in. Other institutions brought to the attention of the Royal Commission beyond December 2020 were then granted six months to join.
Financial consequences apply to those establishments who have decided to opt out of participating, namely:
Establishments that do comply obtain legal exemptions as a result. By joining, institutions pledge to offer compensation to survivors whose applications have been approved, but are then shielded from separate civil litigation for that case — regardless of whether they’re guilty of institutional child sexual abuse. It’s for this reason that the survivor may opt to pursue a civil case rather than seek recourse through the National Redress Scheme. Irrespective of the chosen legal path, expert legal advice and representation can help ensure the consideration of all relevant factors and the maximisation of compensation.
Pursuing compensation through the National Redress Scheme starts with filing an application — either online or in printed form. This application will be used to determine eligibility. Generally speaking, the eligibility criteria are as follows:
An application may be processed differently if the applicant is under the age of 18 at the time of application, was abused by an institution that hasn’t opted into the scheme, is currently in jail or has received some form of compensation related to the abuse. Furthermore, multiple applications aren’t accepted.
Once the application is submitted, a team will review its contents and send an offer letter if eligibility criteria are met. Upon receiving an offer letter, the applicant has six months to either accept or decline. This timeframe may be extended due to adverse circumstances, such as an illness or living within a community with untoward mailing services.
An application review can be sought by those who disagree with the compensation amount offered or those whose original application was disapproved. A team of third-party, independent reviewers consider the contents of the original application — as no new information may be added — and its associated offer, and may offer an alternative outcome.
In the instance of the independent review changing the application’s outcome, there is then a six month period to either accept or decline the offer, with extension requests available. If the offer remains the same, applicants then have two months to make their decision.
For more extensive, personalised information, visit the Nation Redress Scheme’s website.
There are three forms of recompense through the National Redress Scheme: a lump sum payment, an apology from the responsible institutions and the covering of medical and therapeutic costs associated with the abuse.
The amount of compensation received depends on the nature of their case, with $90,809 being the average payout across 2021-2022 — the spectrum of compensation, however, is sub-$10,000 to $150,000.
Of the 5,987 individuals who applied during 2021-2022, 2,219 accepted the offer of psychological care while 1,870 accepted a direct personal response from the responsible institution.
The National Redress Scheme has faced significant scrutiny for its delayed application times. Amanda Rishworth, Minister of Social Services, said, “The government is committed to responding to concerns raised by survivors, including responding to the second-year review of the scheme, and delivering a scheme that provides proper support and redress in a trauma-informed and timely way.” Yet the average processing time of 11.8 months has left many frustrated.
This period of 11.8 months may either be shortened or prolonged due to a handful of reasons: The main cause of delay is a lack of institutional buy-in — other reasons include understaffing and bureaucratic bottlenecks.
If the responsible institution hasn’t opted to participate in the scheme and continues to refrain from doing so, then justice may be sought through civil litigation, which means pursuing compensation through the traditional system. The process of civil litigation, while complex and requiring legal expertise, may result in a higher compensation payout compared to the National Redress Scheme.
To help ensure that an application can be promptly processed, the National Redress Scheme recommends contacting them on 1800 737 377 if any personal contact details change, or if the application requires additional information.
Whether you’re wanting to pursue justice through the National Redress Scheme or through civil litigation, GMP Law’s expert lawyers are available to help. We have a dedicated client care service team to ensure that you are kept up to date at all stages and you receive our promise of triple “C” service: compassion, commitment and competence from all our staff.
Having managed thousands of cases, GMP Law is equipped to provide you with the necessary legal advice and representation, helping you maximise your compensation. We further help to alleviate pressure through our no-win, no-fee policy, meaning no upfront costs are required — we only receive payment if the case is successful.
Reach out to our team online for a free, confidential consultation, or call us on 1800 004 878. Furthermore, if you are considering pursuing legal action through civil litigation, we offer a free resource regarding Sexual & Child Abuse Compensation Claims to assist you through the potential hurdles that you may encounter when seeking to pursue legal action.
The guide covers the relevant legal terminology and context that is used to define sexual assault, the legal factors of making a claim, how GMP Law can help and what you can expect throughout the litigation process. You can access this guide here.
When there is a matter of public liability, there may be a number of situations in which damages are awarded to a claimant. These include
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