ACT to join national Redress Scheme for abuse survivors

Released 19/03/2018

Joint media release: Andrew Barr MLA and Gordon Ramsay MLA

Survivors of child sexual abuse that occurred in institutions under the responsibility of the ACT Government will have access to a range of extra supports, with the ACT signing up to a new national scheme.

The ACT Government acknowledges that survivors of child sexual abuse suffer long lasting and severe damage that can affect them for the rest of their lives. Opting-in to the national Redress Scheme is an important step in acknowledging the harm caused by institutionalised child sexual abuse and accepting responsibility.

The establishment of a Redress Scheme was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. We are working to ensure the Scheme, which will begin operating on 1 July, meets the needs of survivors and assists in their recovery.

Opting-in means that eligible survivors from the ACT will now have access to counselling and psychological services, monetary payments of up to $150,000 and will receive a direct personal response from the institution where the abuse occurred.

Now the ACT Government has committed to the Scheme, I urge non-governmental institutions operating in the Territory to follow our lead and opt-in as well.

Much of the Scheme’s detail is still to be finalised. Attorney-General, Gordon Ramsay, is meeting with his state and territory counterparts today to work with them on ensuring the Scheme meets the needs of survivors and is broadly accessible to all victims of institutional child sexual abuse.

Minister Ramsay said the decision to become one of the first jurisdictions to opt-in to the national Redress Scheme was another example of ACT leading the way in addressing the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission.

“In many respects, the ACT’s legislative regime for the prosecution of sexual offences sets a national benchmark,” Minister Ramsay said.

“A number of the measures recommended by the Royal Commission were already in place in the ACT, including the removal of statutory limitation periods on prosecution of historic sexual offences.

“I look forward to continuing to work with my counterparts in the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions to develop a national Redress Scheme that meets the needs of all survivors of institutionalised child sexual abuse.”

The ACT Government has been working to ensure survivors can hold institutions and individuals accountable, and seek redress. In August 2016, the ACT Government passed amendments to remove limitation periods for civil actions on child sexual abuse in an institutional context. In May 2017, the Government expanded those laws to apply to all claims for compensation in response to abuse.

The removal of these limitation periods acknowledges the fact that it may take survivors of child sexual abuse in this context years, if not decades, to disclose their experience, let alone commence civil litigation proceedings.

In the coming days and weeks, the government will consult with the community on further criminal justice amendments recommended by the Royal Commission, and continue to develop the ACT Government’s formal response to the Royal Commission that we have committed to delivering in June this year.

- Statement ends -

Section: Andrew Barr, MLA | Gordon Ramsay, MLA | Media Releases

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