Australia

States yet to Opt in to National Redress Scheme for Survivors

The Prime Minister promised child sexual abuse survivors a national redress scheme, but no state governments, churches or other institutions have signed on.

South Australia has already ruled out joining the scheme, and others, like West Australia, sound less than enthusiastic.

Sexual abuse survivor Caroline Carol chairs the Alliance of Forgotten Australians — former wards of the state who suffered sexual and other forms of abuse — and hopes the scheme will go ahead.

“We pray that it does, we’re hopeful but we’ve been let down so many times,” she said.

Ms Carol said she had spoken to both Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten.

“The Prime Minister assured me that the states would come on board, and I hope that he meant the churches as well,” she said.

“He said the states, though … I hope the Prime Minister is true to his word.”

At this stage, not a single state has signed on.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said he hoped that would change, now the commission had handed down its final report.

“I would expect most state attorneys-general and ministers responsible, today or over the next several days, will be giving you in the media some kind of indication,” he said.

Larger states like New South Wales are expected to be among the first to sign up. But for now, it is baulking at opting in.

Instead, State Attorney-General Mark Speakman will establish a taskforce to look at all of the royal commission’s 490 recommendations.

“We’ve had very co-operative and constructive engagement with the Commonwealth and all the states and territories on a national redress scheme, and we’re hoping we can reach a landing point in the near future,” he said.

Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland have yet to make any definitive statements about their attitude towards the scheme.

South Australia’s Labor Government has already ruled out joining the scheme, arguing it has already established its own redress scheme — one Ms Carol said was inadequate.

“A lot of people didn’t know about it, it was poorly funded,” she said.

Labor’s federal spokeswoman for families, Jenny Macklin, said all premiers had a responsibility to the survivors.

“Labor has already made a commitment that in government we would make sure that a national redress scheme is implemented,” she said.

“I think it’s our collective responsibility to make sure that all states sign up.”

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