Monday, 15 February 2021
National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Amendment (Technical Amendments) Bill 2020; In Committee
Labor have some 10 amendments to this bill. We had sought to move them together, but I understand from negotiations that we need to split them up. The reason Labor will be moving these amendments today is that the scheme as it currently stands does not deliver on the promise for redress made by this parliament—redress that's timely, redress that does not retraumatise and redress that does not leave survivors missing out.
The reality of this scheme as rolled out by the government does not reflect the will of this parliament. It falls short of the original recommendations of the royal commission. Our amendments seek to address major structural shortcomings of the scheme. We seek to bring the scheme back in line with the original intention and motivation of the royal commission, to end the delays caused by institutions not doing the right thing by not joining the scheme and to ensure no-one misses out through strengthening funders-of-last-resort provisions and the introduction of an advanced payment scheme. We seek to do this by delivering full redress for survivors by lifting the cap on payments as prescribed by the royal commission; making sure that prior payments are not indexed to take away from a redress payment, including from members of the stolen generations who were paid redress for the fact they were removed as children, not necessarily for the sexual abuse that they suffered at the hands of the perpetrators in the institutions that they were stolen away to; making sure that a request for a review of redress and the review of that offer cannot result in that offer being reduced; scrapping the existing and arbitrary assessment matrix and delivering on one that is fair and properly recognises the full impact of abuse; and ensuring ongoing psychological and other forms of cultural support for survivors throughout their lives. After so long, it is time for this parliament to again reflect on the promise that it made to deliver redress to survivors of childhood sexual abuse within Australian institutions.
We have an opportunity tonight in this chamber to improve this scheme, and this parliament should deliver on that. We are a quarter way through the 10-year life of this scheme, and still the number of redress payments are tracking well below what was expected. Do you know what this means? This means that there are institutions out there that know. They've got records; they've heard of how many victims inside those institutions have experienced abuse. And even though those institutions have signed up and are ready to make those payments under this scheme, still there is enough deterrent to people to not do the paperwork and sign up. Our amendments today are designed to help clear that path, to make the application and pursuit of redress that much easier for victims and survivors. It's a clear warning sign, the low take-up rate and the low number of payments, and we have a responsibility today to do something about that. I would like to ask the minister this evening: are you aware that many of the concerns that survivors have raised with the matrix and its potential use were, indeed, identified before this scheme was even implemented and in the early debates we had about this legislation?