New Victorian laws for national redress scheme will provide important choice for survivors seeking justice
8 May 2018
Lawyers who represent abuse survivors have welcomed the introduction of new laws that pave the way for Victorian survivors to access a national redress scheme.
Under the new bill, the Victorian Government will refer powers to the Commonwealth to ensure that Victorian state institutions participate in the scheme.
Dimi Ioannou, a principal at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers who represents abuse survivors, said it was an important step in helping abuse survivors to access justice.
“Having access to the national redress scheme provides choice for survivors in Victoria, who will now have the option of seeking compensation through the scheme or through the courts based on what may be best for them.”
While welcoming the Victorian development, Ms Ioannou said it was crucial that all states, territories and the Federal Government continue to work together in finalising the design of the national redress scheme, starting most urgently with lifting the proposed $150,000 cap on damages to the $200,000 cap recommended by the Royal Commission.
Ms Ioannou also urged states and territories who have signed on to the scheme to prioritise increasing the time limits for offers.
“A recent Senate committee report found that the proposed three-month timeframe for accepting offers of redress was completely inadequate to meet the needs of survivors, with the committee recommending an increase in this time limit to six months,” she said.
“It is also crucial that non-government institutions opt-in to the scheme, and we continue to urge the Federal Government to step up as the funder of last resort for national institutions to ensure the scheme can operate efficiently, in the same way that states will be expected to do for state-based institutions.”
Ms Ioannou said survivors must 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.
She also said for survivors in South Australia, it is critical that the new government there sign up to the national scheme and allow them to take part in this important process.