Thursday, 24 June 2021
Questions without Notice
National Redress Scheme
Speaking of women in the cabinet, my question is to the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Ruston. Can the minister inform the Senate how the Morrison government is supporting survivors of institutional child sexual abuse by progressing immediate improvements to the National Redress Scheme?
I thank Senator Smith for his question and his ongoing interests in this very, very important issue for many Australians. We know how important redress is to survivors of institutionalised child sex abuse, and that's why I'm very pleased to have been able to release the final report of the two-year anniversary review of the scheme as well as the government's interim response. The report was prepared by an independent reviewer. It outlines how Robyn Kruk believes the scheme can be improved and can provide a better survivor experience. Our interim response also ensures that survivors have as much information as they possibly can when they're making that decision as to whether they wish to pursue redress. So, to ensure that the scheme is operating as it's intended to and in the best interests of survivors, in the recent budget we provided an additional investment of more than $80 million for that purpose. We believe it is absolutely essential that we continue to listen to advocates and survivors, because we want this scheme to be the best possible scheme it can be and, in particular, that it's survivor focused.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to inform the Senate that as part of our commitment we have announced that we'll be providing advance payments of $10,000 as redress for survivors who are older or terminally ill. It's something that we heard was very important to survivors not just because of the financial support that it provides but also as an acknowledgement, saying that we understand what they have been through. But we can't do this alone. We also have to work with the states and territories on the design changes that have been put forward. To date, we have got more than 65,000 sites on board, more than 6½ thousand applications have been finalised and more than half a billion dollars has been provided in redress to survivors of institutional child sex abuse.
The government remains absolutely committed to ensuring that each and every survivor has access to redress, and that's why this week I named another three institutions that have failed to join the Redress Scheme, despite having applications lodged against them. These institutions are the Forrest Tennis Club here in the ACT, the CYMS Basketball Association in Victoria and the Devonport Community Church in Tasmania. In addition, I had already named Kenja Communication, who continues to remain recalcitrant about joining the scheme. It is totally and utterly unacceptable that any institution fails to meet its moral obligations and sign up to the scheme so that survivors of institutional child sex abuse have access to redress. We will continue to take action wherever we possibly can to try and encourage organisations to take responsibility if they have any experience or any history of working with children.
The most important thing that we think we can continue to do is to keep hearing from advocates and from survivors or their nominees about how we can continue to progress improvements to the scheme. I can assure the Senate that further consideration and consultation will continue to take place on the recommendations that we need to be working on, with the states and territories, and we'll provide a full response to all recommendations in early 2022. But, as I said, the most important thing is to continue with the survivor focused nature of what we're doing. Most of the recommendations require the support of the states and territories, and so we will continue to work with those states and territories as an absolute matter of priority. We're also, though, committed to working with survivors and other stakeholders. Our government is absolutely committed to working with survivors to ensure that this scheme is as focused as it can be on providing them with the redress that they so justly deserve.