On 5 June 2019 at the Victoria State Court of Appeal, Cardinal Pell’s legal team launched an application for leave to appeal his conviction on one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16 in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. The Court is also hearing the appeal against the conviction at the same time.
Cardinal Pell was sentenced to six years in prison, which he is currently serving in a Melbourne prison and it is reported that he is being held in special protective custody because due to the nature of his convictions he is regarded as being at higher risk of harm from other prisoners.
As readers of our blog will be aware the Australian National Redress Scheme opened for applications on the 1 July, 2018 and it will remain open for 10 years.
When the Government committed to establishing the National Redress Scheme (NRS) it was expected that there would be 60,000 to 65,000 applicants and that the redress payments and associated benefits would cost somewhere in the region of AUS$4.38 billion.
The latest update from the National Redress Scheme (NRS) in Australia which was published last week advises that on 18 April 2019, the following institutions joined the Scheme:
- Benedictine Community of New Norcia
- Child and Family Services Ballarat (CAFS)
- Scouts Tasmania
- Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Schools
The fifth group of Anglican organisations have also joined, represented by Anglican Representative Limited. They are:
- Anglican Diocese of Armidale
- Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn
- Anglican Diocese of Wangaratta
- Anglicare North Queensland
- Anglicare Victoria
A significant focus of the Royal Commission (RC) in Australia in the national inquiry in connection with child abuse was religious organisations. Given the results of the RC and of other similar inquiries, it is not surprising that IICSA has announced an investigation looking at child abuse and religion, this being in addition to the two current investigations into abuse in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches.
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.
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.
Authored by Sharon Moohan, partner
In establishing the National Redress Scheme the Australian Government was very clear that it expected every institution in which sexual abuse of children occurred to be accountable for that abuse and to join the Scheme and provide redress.
In fact the Australian Department of Social Services has a dedicated team who contacts Institutions that may have responsibility for abuse, strongly encourages them to join the Scheme, and provides information about how to do so.