The scheme – which provides support to people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse – had received a total of 7,261 applications as of June 26. Of the 60,000 people who are expected to be eligible for redress, 2,693 payments had been made totalling $220.9 million and a further 612 offers were waiting an applicant’s decision, the Minister said in early July. Payments are capped at $150,000.
The Minister’s spokesperson said when the scheme started there was an expectation that a large number of applications would be received early in the scheme. They expected about 20,000 applications based on advice from the Royal Commission. Instead, they received 7500 applications. They now expect a steady stream of applications over the scheme’s 10 years to 2028.
It also faced delays from institutions. “We have not shied away from the fact that the scheme is not perfect and we have put in considerable resources to improve it for survivors and we will continue to do so,” the spokesperson said.
President of the Blue Knot Foundation Dr Cathy Kezelman agreed the scheme had faced repeated delays – both in institutions joining and individuals coming forward to apply.
“Trust has to be established, and the implementation process has been slow and it has been fraught,” she said. The Blue Knot Foundation advocates for the needs of Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.
Dr Kezelman said implementation of the redress scheme had been questionable to start with, and the assessment process and communication with survivors had been less than ideal. But the process had been undergoing review and changes with an independent review now underway and plans by the Government to make further improvements.
The process of applying could be traumatic as survivors had to describe in detail what had happened so an assessor could determine their case, she said.
Ms Burney said the scheme had now been running for more than two years – and survivors have been reporting poor processes, unfair and inconsistent decision making, inadequate payments and chronic delays.
“The scheme simply isn’t working as planned – thousands of people who deserve justice simply aren’t coming forward and the Government needs to fix it,” said Ms Burney.