Update on the Australian National Redress Scheme – will its effectiveness be impacted by recent significant awards of damages CSA claims in Australia?

As of April 2022, the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS):-

  • Had received 15,280 applications.
  • Made 9,417 decisions – including 8,087 payments, totalling over AUS$700.1 million, with an average award of redress of AUS$86,566.
  • Had made 9,167 offers for redress. (Readers of this Blog will be aware that Applicants to the NRS have six months to consider their offer of redress).
  • 5,638 applications are currently being progressed.
  • 710 are on hold or paused, including 113 applications due to institution not participating (representing 1.8% of applications on hand).

The total number of applications finalised and redress payments from establishment to date are 8,476 applications with redress of AUS$700.1 million having been paid out to date.

There still remains a number of institutions that were either named in the Royal Commission and/or in an application made to the NRS that have failed to join the NRS and they are:-

CYMS Basketball Association, VIC

Devonport Community Church, TAS

Forrest Tennis Club, ACT

Kenja Communication, NSW

Woodlands Golf Club, VIC

As previously advised these institutions will have financial sanctions applied and may lose their charitable status until such times as they join the NRS.

However, the ongoing effectiveness of the NRS (where the average award of redress is AUS$86,566) in finally determining claims relating to CSA must surely be impacted by very significant damages that claimant’s are recovering in the Courts in Australia.

In our Blog on New South Wales Supreme Court, we commented on a recent judgement handed down by the Supreme Court in New South Wales where damages totalling AUS$1,353,850 including AUS$400,000 for general damages and AUS$40,00 for aggravated damages were awarded to a defendant who was sexually assaulted when he was aged between 14 and 16 years old.

This has been recently followed with an award of AUS$1.9 million to a former altar boy who brought a civil claim against Melbourne’s archbishop, Peter Comensoli, claiming the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was vicariously liable for him being sexually abused by Victorian priest Desmond Gannon.

It is likely that this is one of the contributing factors to the sluggish rate at which applications for redress are being received by the NRS.

Written by Sharon Moohan, Large Loss Casualty Partner (Sharon.Moohan@blmlaw.com)

Historic Abuse and Statute of Limitations

Limitation in historic abuse claims has been a controversial concern for some time as strict application of the statute on Limitation can result in unfair outcomes.

As a consequence there is a groundswell of support for review and revision of limitation periods in such cases.

There is a current lack of uniformity.

In England and Wales primary limitation periods remain subject to a three year period from when a claimant reaches majority (age 21), albeit subject to discretion to extend the period in certain circumstances.

However in other jurisdictions change is already afoot and embedded.

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Former Archbishop of Perth deposed over abuse cover up

On 13 December 2021 the Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia, the Most Revd. Geoffrey Smith issued a statement advising that the Episcopal Standards Board of the Anglican Church of Australia has determined that Roger Herft, formerly Archbishop of Perth and Bishop of Newcastle, was unfit to remain in Holy Orders and that he should be deposed. This means that he will no longer be recognised as an ordained member of the Anglican Church. Mr. Herft chose not attend or be represented at the Board’s hearing.

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Australian Government announces new arrangements & possible sanctions for institutions yet to join National Redress Scheme

On 28 April, the Australian Government announced that all state and territory governments, institutions named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse or in an application received by the National Redress Scheme (NRS) must provide a clear written statement setting out their intention to join the NRS by no later than 30 June 2020. These institutions will be expected to join the NRS as soon as possible, but no later than 31 December 2020.

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Australian Redress update – participating institutions have doubled

The number of institutions participating in the Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) has more than doubled as more institutions have completed the necessary steps to join the NRS.

As at 6 February 2020, 162 non-government institutions are now participating in the NRS – up from 67 last year, in addition to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments.

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Australian High Court to deliver final appeal judgment in the Cardinal Pell appeal on 7 April 2020

On 12 March the High Court in Australia deferred ruling on an appeal to overturn the conviction of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for sexually assaulting two teenage choirboys in the 1990s for which he was sentenced to a six year jail term.

After two days of legal arguments, the High Court of Australia said it was still considering whether to allow the appeal.

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A change in the law can have a big impact

Whilst the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England & Wales focuses its attention on reviewing legal processes available to deliver reparation to victims and survivors of abuse, and in particular to consider whether the law (such as the statute of Limitations) should be changed, we can see the impact a change in the law can have in other jurisdictions.

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Australia: A new Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

On 5 April 2019 the Australian Prime Minister announced the establishment of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability.

The Commission has been established as there is significant body of evidence that people with disability are more likely to experience violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation than people without disability. For those of us working in this area of the law there is little doubt that this is indeed the case.

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Cardinal Pell’s appeal fails as convictions for child sex abuse are upheld

The Victoria Court of Appeal yesterday rejected the appeal by Cardinal Pell against his convictions for sexual abuse against two boys in Melbourne in the 1990s.

Pell was sentenced to six years in prison in March 2019 on foot of these convictions. He has and continues to maintain his innocence.

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Update on Redress in Australia

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.

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