Lawyers who represent abuse survivors have today welcomed South Australia’s commitment to sign on to the national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
Maurice Blackburn’s Head of Abuse Law, Michelle James said the national redress scheme will ensure abuse survivors can access justice and it is critical the scheme is supported by all states and territories.
“The national redress scheme gives choice to survivors. These South Australians will now have the option of seeking compensation through the scheme or through the courts depending on their individual circumstances, and having that choice is incredibly important,” Ms James said.
“I’d also urge the new South Australian government to further support abuse survivors by abolishing the current time limits which stop them from taking legal action against the perpetrators and institutions.”
“It is entirely unreasonable and unjust to put an arbitrary deadline on when a survivor of childhood abuse feels able and ready to seek justice.”
Ms James says today’s announcement that South Australia will join the national redress scheme means a clear majority of states and territories have signalled their intent to join the scheme.
“A national redress scheme was a key recommendation made by the Royal Commission, and it is heartening to see it endorsed by most Australian governments.
“However, there are still a number of outstanding Royal Commission recommendations which will ensure that the national redress scheme is most effectively meeting the needs of survivors.
“It’s crucial that all state, territory and federal governments finalise the design of the scheme and increase the proposed $150,000 cap on damages to the $200,000 cap recommended both by the Royal Commission and survivors.
“Non-government institutions must opt-in to the scheme as a matter of priority, and the Federal Government needs to step up as the funder of last resort for national institutions in the same way that states are expected to do for state-based institutions which will ensure the scheme can operate effectively.
“Survivors must also have access to appropriate advice about their rights in navigating the redress scheme, namely in ensuring they are getting access to compensation that is fair in addressing and acknowledging the harm caused.
“Legislation to enable rollout of the national redress scheme across the country is needed as an urgent priority, and we urge the Federal Government to act on this quickly so that states can follow suit as soon as possible,” she said.