Lawyers welcome Anglican Church, Scouts, Salvation Army and YMCA joining national redress scheme, others must follow suit

31 May 2018
Lawyers for abuse survivors have today welcomed confirmation that more institutions will join the national redress scheme, including the Anglican Church, Scouts, the Salvation Army and the YMCA, and urged other institutions to follow suit or risk losing their tax deductibility status.

Maurice Blackburn Abuse Law Principal Michelle James said the growing number of institutions opting-in to the scheme was an important step for survivors.

“While many survivors may ultimately choose to pursue claims directly against various institutions, it is important that they have a choice to also seek compensation via the redress scheme if they wish and that institutions ensure that option is available,” Ms James said.

“It is pleasing to see that the number of institutions opting-in is now steadily growing, and it is critical that all relevant institutions declare their intention to follow suit as soon as possible so survivors have certainty about what their options are when the redress scheme commences.

“As we have continued to reiterate, governments must also be prepared to step up and take action if institutions refuse to support the scheme, including not hesitating to strip the charity tax deductibility status of any institutions that delay doing the right thing.

“Each year charitable institutions reap multiple billions in state and federal concessions, with the Federal Government alone forgoing almost $2 billion in annual revenue to offer charity tax deductibility status on donations[1].

“Many of these charitable institutions have failed to protect children in their care, yet they continue to benefit from generous tax concessions and those institutions need to be given a clear message that they must meet their responsibilities or lose their tax concessions.”

Ms James said while a national redress scheme was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission, the proposed scheme as currently drafted continued to fall short of what was needed to appropriately meet the needs of survivors.

“The momentum for the implementation of a redress scheme is growing with almost all states now signed on, as well as an increasing number of institutions,” Ms James said.

“That’s a positive development, but we must also not lose sight of the fact that the scheme as it stands currently is at odds with the recommendations of the Royal Commission on a number of key aspects, including capped amounts proposed for compensation and timeframes for deciding offers of redress.

“It’s also important that survivors are properly aware of their rights in joining the scheme, including understanding that they have a right to pursue their own claims – the redress scheme provides choice, but it is not the only choice and survivors need to be aware of this in making the best decision for them and their circumstances.

 

[1] Tax Expenditure Statement 2017. The Treasury, January 2018