German Child Abuse Inquiry says victims should be allowed to speak

Germany’s Independent Inquiry into Sexual Child Abuse (“the inquiry”) issued a 350 page interim report on 3 April 2019, after three years of investigations.

The inquiry was established by the German Government in 2016 and the recently published interim report calls for a wider conversation in Germany on the issue.

The inquiry investigates all forms of child sexual abuse in Germany, such as sexual abuse;

  • in institutions,
  • by family members,
  • by social environment,
  • by unknown offenders,
  • in the context of organised crime.

To date, 900 people testified in confidential hearings and another 300 submitted written reports for evaluation.

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Northern Ireland – the challenge of no Assembly

On the 2 April 2018 the High Court in Belfast heard a judicial review on behalf of a survivor in his seventies, identified as JR 80, who is seeking to compel the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley to act on and implement the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA).

In 2017 the HIA published a report recommending redress ranging from £7,500 to £100,000 for those who were resident in a care facility and who suffered neglect and abuse, or experienced a harsh regime or witnessed other residents being abused between 1922 and 1995. The proposed redress also provided for a specific award of £20,000 if the person was transported to Australia or any other country as part of the scheme to populate those territories.

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Lambeth – a scheme making progress

On the 1 April 2019 the Lambeth Children’s Home Redress Scheme, which has been operational since the 1 January 2018, reported on its progress.

The scheme had received 1,115 applications by mid-March this year. Applications have in the main been from England, though applications have also been received from the USA, Australia, Canada and Europe.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council leader, said:

“As the new leader of this council I am committed to our pledge to survivors that this council will not be like previous administrations and will continue to face up to the past.

 “This scheme is incredibly important as it acknowledges how very badly our former children’s home residents were let down. We know that many former children’s homes residents will never be able to forgive the council for their childhood experiences.

 “But we are determined to do all we can to deliver swift and compassionate redress to those who have waited so long to even have acknowledgement of the suffering they experienced. I want to apologise to abuse survivors of behalf of the council.”

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The challenges of Redress

The provision of financial redress for victims and survivors of abuse is never easy and there is no system which is satisfactory to all. In a series of blogs to be published this week, we consider the latest schemes and update on how they are progressing.

A rally for survivors and their supporters took place in Melbourne on Sunday the 31 March 2019, amid calls for the National Redress Scheme (the scheme) to be changed.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI): an update

Overview of present position

SCAI’s work, which started in October 2015, continues. SCAI is to report, with recommendations, to Scottish Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable after October 2019.

SCAI’s overall aim is to raise public awareness of the abuse of children in care (under 18) for the period “within living memory” of any person who suffered such abuse no later than 17 December 2014.

To date, SCAI has heard evidence in public during three phases. One set of findings relating to one part of one of the phases has been published. Further findings are anticipated shortly. Various expert reports have been commissioned and published.

The cost of SCAI to end 2018 was £19,737,688. Expenditure is published quarterly.

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Manchester City Football Club launches full redress scheme

Manchester City Football Club has announced the launch of a ‘survivor’s scheme’ to compensate victims of non-recent abuse.  The scheme, which will incorporate both compensation and a formal apology, is the first of its kind to be set up by one of the football clubs implicated in football’s sex abuse scandal.

The scheme is for survivors of abuse by Barry Bennell, the former youth coach, who is currently serving a 30 year prison sentence, and with a further criminal trial potentially still to follow.  The scheme also incorporates the victims of John Broome, a former talent spotter and coach connected with Manchester City, against whom allegations of assault have also been made.  Broome died in 2010.

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Australia – The ongoing cost of Redress

On the 5 March 2019 the Australian Government reported that, to date, it has committed AUS$52.1 million to support Australians engaging with the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, through Redress Support Services.

It also announced five additional grants that are being offered to establish Redress Support Services in areas of specific need.

The new additional Redress Support Service providers being offered a grant to establish Redress Support Services in areas of specific need are:

  • ACT Disability and Carer Advocacy Service
  • Cape York Remote Area Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Care Advisory Association
  • Pilbara Community Legal Service
  • Survivors and Mates Support Network (SAMSN)
  • Blue Knot Foundation.

The services include remote and regional areas, services that support male survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, survivors with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

As a result, 39 Redress Support Services will be funded until June 2021.

The objective is that these Redress Support Services will offer survivors of institutional child sexual abuse an independent, trusted source of information and much needed support as they engage with the National Redress Scheme.

With the National Redress Scheme in Australia due to run until the 30 June 2028 one suspects this is only the start of the state funding that will be needed to support the estimated 60,000 to 65,000 applicants for redress.


moohan_sharonv2 Authored by Sharon Moohan, partner