Australian National Redress Scheme – Joint Select Committee – Second Interim Report

On the 23 November 2021 the Australian Joint Select Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme (“the Committee”) tabled its Second Interim Report (“the report”).

In tabling the report the Committee was keen to acknowledge that the National Redress Scheme (“the NRS”) require constant review and at times recalibration in order to effectively meet the needs of victims and survivors and society at large.

The Committee also noted that the efficacy of the NRS is also impacted by how attractive redress is as a means of dealing with these claims when considered against the broader access to civil compensation, which has been introduced by legislative changes introduced by the State and Territories throughout Australia as discussed in our earlier BLOG Reopening settlements in abuse cases – the approach in Australia – could it happen in other jurisdictions?

The report noted that “significant momentum was lost before the Scheme formally commenced and awareness of its existence is now limited”

The Committee accepts the observations of Ms Robyn Kruk AO at the time of publishing her Second Anniversary Review of the NRS in  June 2021 that there is only a very limited timeframe for making any meaningful changes to the NRS at this stage.

The Committee says that its focus is identifying those reforms that will improve survivor participation and experience and increase awareness and access to the NRS among First Nations people.

The Committee noted that 12,305 applications have been received, 7,093 offers made and 6,703 applications finalised. The 6,448 payments to survivors total approximately AUS$551.2 million, with the average Redress payment now approximately AUS $85,481.

The Committee noted that reforms made in the last 12 months to the NRS included:-

  • encouraging institutions to join by removing tax concessions and Federal grants;
  • legislating for AUS$10,000 ‘advance payments’ to elderly and terminally ill applicants and
  • expansion of the Funder of Last Resort provisions for defunct and financially incapable institutions.

However, despite these and ongoing reforms since the NRS was launched in July, 2018 the sense of the Committee is that the NRS is still more complex to administer than originally thought and this has been constant theme of the commentary on the NRS by victims and survivors.

The Committee makes 21 recommendations:

  1. The establishment of a First Nations panel to provide specific advice to the NRS on the design and implementation of cultural safety principles and practice; and the development and implementation of an intensive education campaign across regional, rural, and remote communities to drive awareness and improve access to the NRS for First Nations people.
  2. Formal evaluation of redress support services be established to ensure that the needs of survivors and their families are being met through professional and timely engagement.
  3. The NRS engage additional redress support services in regional, rural and remote areas that offer face-to-face support
  4. The NRS consider expanding current funding arrangements to provide after hours and weekend specialist services.
  5. The NRS produce public education materials to clearly explain and demonstrate how the assessment framework is applied to applications by Independent Decision Makers.
  6. The NRS introduce annual mandatory training requirements for Independent Decision Makers and that the agreed minimum training requirements are published for survivors to understand.
  7. The NRS implement an internal moderation and review process for all application determinations prior to being finalised.
  8. The NRS Scheme amend current review processes to ensure that applications are only reviewed by senior Independent Decision Makers, and allow for survivors to provide additional materials on matters raised by Independent Decision Makers.
  9. The NRS eliminate the practice of indexing prior payments made to survivors.
  10. The NRS commence indexing awards to an inflation measure.
  11. The NRS consider amending the NRS Rules so that the total financial award limit applies to each institution found responsible for institutional child sexual abuse, instead of each application (This recommendations is being made as the Committee are looking at the NRS being amended to provide that where an applicant has been abused across multiple institutions, the cap on redress payments should apply to each institution, rather than the cap being distributed among perpetrating institutions)
  12. The NRS undertake work with survivors and redress support services to determine appropriate alternative methods for the initiation of Direct Personal Responses and best practice guidelines.
  13. The NRS undertakes consultation to amend the application form as a matter of priority. The amended form should be designed for survivors who may have low levels of literacy and allow care leavers to self-identify.
  14. The NRS commence a series of face-to-face education sessions across Australia targeting known under-represented groups and regions. All sessions should be run by senior NRS employees and make provision for a question and answer component.
  15. The NRS engage additional free legal services for survivors to access.
  16. The NRS identify and fund legal services that can provide face-to-face, culturally diverse and trauma informed legal advice across regional, rural, and remote centres.
  17. The Minister’s Redress Scheme Governance Board prioritise preventing the exploitation of survivors by private law firms and works to immediately implement the following measures: 
  18. Make it unlawful for lawyers to charge contingency fees for services delivered with respect to NRS applications;
  19. Impose a legal obligation on lawyers to advise a potential client of the availability of free services (knowmore and the Redress Support Services), and to certify such advice has been provided, before executing a costs agreement for a NRS application;
  20. Consider a cap on fees that lawyers can charge for services delivered with respect to NRS applications;
  21. Make it an offence for any person to contact a person without their consent and solicit or induce them to make a NRS application; or give or receive any money or other benefit in exchange for a referral to make a NRS application;
  22. Establish a set of expected practice standards for lawyers and survivor advocates providing services with respect to NRS applications; and
  23. Establish a specific complaints process within the NRS to deal with concerns about the conduct of lawyers and representatives from survivor advocacy businesses.
  24. The Australian Government work with all Australian states and territories to examine child safety measures in relation to institutions that refuse to join the NRS.
  25. Funders of last resort arrangements are expanded to ensure that survivors of institutions who are unable or unwilling to join the NRS are able to receive all components of redress.
  26. Funder of last resort provisions be expanded to ensure that all survivors can access the NRS if they wish to do so.
  27. Future Parliament consider the establishment of a parliamentary committee to continue the work of providing oversight on the administration and operation of the NRS.

The Committee will proceed as required by its Resolution of Appointment to prepare a Final Report which will be finalised before parliament rises in May, 2022. The Committee is now accepting submission for that Final Report.

For those of you who may wish to read more about the Second Interim Report please click here.


Written by Sharon Moohan at BLM (sharon.moohan@blmlaw.com)

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.

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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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Redress in Australia – slower than anticipated – changes to be made

On 29 November 2019, the Australian Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, hosted the Ministers Redress Scheme Governance Board, which is a meeting of the relevant Ministers with responsibility for the National Redress Scheme (NRS) in their state or territory.

Those in attendance noted that while redress has been paid to several hundred survivors to date (975 as of 03/01/2020) the administration of the NRS is not providing the fast, simple and trauma-informed response survivors deserve.

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Australian National Redress Scheme has received over 5000 Applications

The Australian National Redress Scheme (NRS) published an update yesterday (28/10/2019).

Award processing

In that update it advised that as of the 4 October 2019 the NRS had:

  • Received over 5,040 applications
  • Made around 750 decisions
  • Of those 750 decisions the NRS has made 638 payments, totalling over AUS$51.3 million
  • The NRS had also made over 100 offers of redress, and applicants have six months to consider their offer of redress
  • The NRS is currently processing over 3,300 applications, with 618 applications on hold because one or more institution named in the application had not yet joined and about 300 applications requiring additional information from the applicant.

As of 4 October, the average payment under the NRS was AUS$80,019.

From 1 July 2019 to 4 October 2019, 405 applications were finalised, resulting in 399 payments.

This shows that the NRS have improved the rate at which it is making decisions as they have finished more applications since July this year than they did for the first twelve months of its existence.

Institutions update
As of 4 October, there were 61 non-government institutions participating in the NRS, covering over 41,300 individual sites, such as churches, schools and clubs.

In September, a number of new institutions, organisations and religious orders completed the necessary steps to join the Scheme.

The following institutions have completed the steps to join the Scheme:

  • Ballarat and Queen’s Anglican Grammar School
  • The Carmelite Fathers Incorporated (Vic)
  • Legacy Australia Incorporated (this does not include all the Legacy Clubs in Australia, the primary purpose of Legacy Australia Incorporated is the care of dependants of those who served their country; namely, veterans who gave their lives or health on operational service or subsequently, and Australian Defence Force members who die in service or as a result of their service)
  • Parkerville Children and Youth Care Inc
  • The Trustees of the Passionist Fathers

The additions to the Anglican Church of Australia participating group are:

  • All Saints’ College Inc
  • Arden Anglican School
  • Barker Barang
  • Blue Mountains Grammar School Limited
  • Campbelltown Anglican Schools Council
  • The Corporate Trustees of the Diocese of Armidale
  • The Corporate Trustees of the Diocese of Grafton
  • Governors of Hale School
  • Launceston Church Grammar School
  • The Society of the Sacred Advent Schools Pty Ltd as trustee for The Society of the Sacred Advent – St Aidan’s Trust (St Aidan’s Anglican Girls School)
  • The Society of the Sacred Advent Schools Pty Ltd as trustee for The Society of the Sacred Advent – St Margaret’s Trust (St Margaret’s Anglican Girls School)
  • The Synod of the Diocese of The Murray of the Anglican Church of Australia Incorporated
  • Trinity College Gawler Inc

The addition to the Baptist Churches of Victoria participating group is:

  • Warracknabeal Baptist Church.

The addition to the Salesian Society (Vic) participating group is:

  • Boys’ Town Engadine.

The additions to the Uniting Church in Australia participating group are:

  • Aitken College Limited (Vic)
  • Billanook College Limited (Vic)
  • Blackheath Home, Oxley (Qld)
  • Fahan School (Tas)
  • The Geelong College (Vic)
  • Haileybury (Vic)
  • Kingswood College Limited (Vic)
  • Methodist Ladies’ College (Vic)
  • Penleigh and Essendon Grammar School (Vic)
  • Pilgrim School Inc (SA)
  • Prince Alfred College (SA)
  • Scotch College (Vic)
  • The Scots School Albury (Vic)
  • UnitingCare Wesley Bowden (SA)
  • Uniting Communities Incorporated (SA)
  • Uniting Country SA Ltd.


moohan_sharonv2 Written by Sharon Moohan, partner at BLM

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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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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Australia – more institutions join but redress is slow

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

Continue reading

Update on the Australian National Redress Scheme

On the 19 June the Australian Parliament passed legislation to establish the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, ensuring the scheme can begin on 1 July 2018. Continue reading