Update on the Australian National Redress Scheme

In its most recent newsletter on 21 October the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) advised that the Australian’s Government’s commitment to constantly striving to improve the NRS for survivors and victims is evidenced by its announcement that in the 2020-21 Budget, a further AUS$104.6 million will be invested in the NRS. This will be used to improve and stabilise the operation of the NRS and better support survivors and victims to ensure the NRS meets its expectations.

There has been some criticism of the availability of the Redress Support Services, which have been put in place to provide trauma-informed and culturally appropriate support to survivors.  This includes providing emotional support for survivors, as well as practical support to complete an application and interact with the Scheme. The additional funding announced by the Australian Government is expected to be utilised to bolster these services which in turn will hopefully reduce the number of people applying without support and ensure that appropriate assistance is available to survivors.

The NRS continues to work with institutions identified in applications or by other means to join and participate in the NRS. Readers of this Blog will be aware from other updates on the NRS that the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and 288 non-government institutions covering around 53,300 sites such as churches, schools, homes, charities and community groups across Australia are participating. A further 117 institutions have committed to join and finalise on-boarding to the NRS by no later than 31 December 2020.

Earlier this year, in order to provide some certainty to applicants, institutions named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission) and/or in an application were asked by the NRS to provide a written statement outlining their intention to join the Scheme by 30 June 2020.

The following institutions named in the Royal Commission and/or an application have not yet joined or signified their intent to join the Scheme:

  • Jehovah’s Witnesses
  • Kenja Communication
  • Lakes Entrance Pony Club Inc.
  • Fairbridge (Restored) Limited

Under existing arrangements, institutions now have until 31 December 2020 to join the Scheme.

The NRS has also commissioned the University of New South Wales to carry out a confidential review and is seeking responses from survivors, victims and support services, carers and advocates to a feedback study on experiences with the NRS and especially with the application process. The closing date for submissions is 23 October 2020. The outcome of this review will feed into the Second Anniversary Review of the NRS.

Applications progress as at 9 October is as follows:

Sharon Moohan, Partner, BLM

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