Maurice Blackburn Abuse Law Principal Michelle James said the Committee’s report, which was released last April outlining urgently needed changes to the scheme consistent with the recommendations of the Royal Commission, deserved a more comprehensive and urgent response from the Federal Government.
“The Government have had 10 months to respond to the Joint Select Committee’s report, yet there is still a lack of urgency on key recommendations, including those that go to the heart of improving the scheme for survivors,” Ms James said.
“While we recognise that the Federal Government can’t act on all of these recommendations without the support of the states, many of the recommendations raised in the Committee’s report have been known problems within the scheme since its inception.
“It is now well past time for the Federal Government to finalise a response to these recommendations with the states and other jurisdictions, survivors have waited long enough and deserve a scheme that is designed to best meet their needs in providing access to justice,” she said
Ms James said this was particularly the case with respect to the Committee’s recommendations on maximum payments and a fairer assessment framework for survivors, both of which were recommendations not only of the Joint Select Committee but of the Royal Commission.
“There is no excuse for further delays on recommendations including a maximum redress payment of $200,000 and an assessment framework that reflects the recommendations of the Royal Commission, both of which should have been put in place within the scheme from the get-go and must be acted on urgently,” Ms James said.
“It is also vitally important that all survivors receive an adequate amount of counselling and psychological services, an area within which the current scheme is still wholly inadequate.
“Equally action on other recommendations including stripping the charity status of institutions that fail to join the scheme and extending the scheme to people in jail as well as consideration of non-citizens and non-permanent residents are important, something that we and survivor groups have called for repeatedly.
“While there has been a period of goodwill around the scheme and in encouraging institutions to sign on, the time for such goodwill has now passed and it is imperative that all governments use any mechanisms at their disposal, including the removal of charitable status as needed, to ensure that institutions do the right thing in joining the scheme,” she said.
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