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Friday, December 8, 2023

Dying and elderly abuse survivors now able to access $10k payments

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Terminally ill and elderly survivors of child sex abuse will be able to access up to $10,000 under changes to the national redress scheme.

An independent review found there needed to be a fundamental reset of the application process, with more work needed to drive down wait times and improve survivor experience.

In its first two years of operation, the national redress scheme has been heavily criticised as slow, overly complicated and traumatising for survivors forced to recount horrific tales of abuse in the hope of securing financial support.

People over 70, or 55 for Indigenous survivors, will be eligible for the payments along with those suffering from a terminal illness.

Federal Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the Government wanted to make sure people in those circumstances were given quick access to an advance payment.

“Many of the survivors that are coming forward are in their older years, because the abuse took place a long time ago,” Senator Ruston told the ABC today.

“What we wanted to do was to make sure that we were able to give quick access to an advance payment.

“Bearing in mind that even in the unfortunate situation where somebody does pass away during the application process, their estate or their family will receive the payment — but of course, that is of no benefit to the survivor.”

The Minister said the payments would be offered “almost immediately” after a survivor had completed their application.

“Not only are we accepting what you’ve got to say, we actually believe you,” she said.

“And I think that goes a long way to giving the survivor the comfort that the process is underway and that they’re actually being listened to and believed.”

The family or estate of survivors who die during the application process receive payments on their behalf.

Robyn Kruk’s inquiry into the second year of the scheme’s operation found the process was traumatising and did not engage with survivors sufficiently on application progress.

“The scheme is administratively complex and can be confronting for survivors,” she wrote.

The Morrison Government has committed to 25 of the 38 recommendations in its interim response to the report.

It argues the remainder constitute major changes to the scheme which require further consultation with survivors, institutions and state governments.

The goal is to provide a full response early next year.

Ruston named three organisations that failed to sign up to the redress scheme.

The Forrest Tennis Club in the ACT, Victoria’s CYMS Basketball Association and the Devonport Community Church in Tasmania will be banned from Commonwealth grant funding.

The groups also risk being stripped of charitable status.

The minister also announced the AFL, including Auskick and state associations, was among 32 new organisations to sign up to the scheme.

“When national sporting organisations such as the AFL join the scheme they take a leadership role in demonstrating a strong commitment to child safety,” Ruston said.

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