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Melbourne diocese joins National Redress Scheme

One of nine Anglican dioceses to join redress scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse late last month

By Mark Brolly

April 9 2019The Diocese of Melbourne is one of the latest 22 Anglican institutions to join the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

Melbourne is one of nine Anglican dioceses, including Gippsland, in the latest batch of institutions to join the scheme.

Other Melbourne-based Anglican organisations to sign on to the scheme are the Brotherhood of St Laurence, the Church Missionary Society (CMS) Victoria and Mentone Grammar School. Nationally, the latest Anglican members include the dioceses of Bunbury, Grafton, Newcastle, North Queensland, Sydney, Tasmania and Willochra, as well as the Anglican Schools Corporation.

They were among 30 predominantly Christian organisations representing more than 7000 sites across Australia to join the scheme.

The announcement was made on 29 March by the Minister for Families and Social Services, Mr Paul Fletcher.

“I am pleased that institutions are taking heed of the request for them to join the Redress Scheme as soon as possible,” Mr Fletcher said.

“I continue to emphasise the urgency of giving survivors access to redress as soon as they are able.”

Mr Fletcher said the Federal Government expected all institutions where child sexual abuse had occurred to sign up to the National Redress Scheme as soon as possible.

He said that as additional institutions joined, more applications could be processed and more survivors of institutional child sexual abuse could access support and acknowledgement through the scheme. Survivors could make applications for redress at any time, but applications could not be processed until the relevant institution had completed the necessary steps to join the scheme.

On 27 February, Mr Fletcher announced that the Department of Social Services had published a list of institutions on its website that had not yet joined the scheme, as well as institutions that had joined. At the same time, Mr Fletcher said seven Anglican dioceses, three Anglicare organisations and nine other institutions representing several Anglican schools has joined the scheme.

The only remaining Victorian diocese not yet in the scheme, Wangaratta, intends to join by the end of June.

The Church of England Boys’ Society and the North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore, NSW (operated by the Diocese of Grafton) – both of which were the subject of public hearings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – are among the Anglican institutions yet to join the scheme.

It can take months for institutions to join the scheme. The National Redress Scheme website says: “Institutions must provide a list of their current and historic physical locations and for some large and long-standing institutions, this can be extensive. Institutions must also establish that they are operationally ready. This involves confirming how they will structure themselves and to have resolved to participate, completing training provided by the Department of Social Services, and demonstrating their capacity to pay for redress and to deliver direct personal responses.”

Survivors and their supporters have criticised the scheme, which is capped at $150,000, for the time taken to deliver redress and for the bureaucracy surrounding their applications. Survivor Warren Porter told the ABC’s 7.30 program on 7 March: “Filling out the application form was unbearable, bringing back all those childhood memories and the rape and abuse.”
Trauma rehabilitation consultant Professor Roger Rees, who has helped a number of survivors, including Mr Porter, to fill out their application forms, said the form was 62 pages long. “I have spoken to people who have had to complete this form and for them, to use their language, it is like being raped again.”

The Diocese of Tasmania has made significant changes to its Pastoral Support and Assistance Scheme (PSAAS) for survivors of sexual abuse in light of the Royal Commission and the establishment of the National Redress Scheme.

Tasmania’s Bishop Richard Condie said his diocese would continue to operate its Pastoral Support and Assistance Scheme in parallel with, and as an alternative to, the National Redress Scheme. “In contrast to the National Redress Scheme, we will accept applications from people who were non-Australian citizens, have a criminal conviction or who were abused as adults. The payment cap has been increased to $150,000, up from $75,000. Previous claimants are welcome to have their claims reassessed.”

Budget support
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Families and Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher have announced that the Government will commit $22.5 million towards establishing the National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

Dr Davies on Pell verdict
Sydney’s Archbishop Glenn Davies said he was “shocked and appalled” by the guilty verdict against Cardinal George Pell, a former Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, and earlier of Melbourne, on charges of child sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell, who has been imprisoned, is to have his appeal heard in June.