Australia: 500 child sex abuse compensation cases stalled - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia500 child sex abuse compensation cases stalled

01:26  14 august  2019
01:26  14 august  2019 Source:   smh.com.au

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500 child sex abuse compensation cases stalled© Getty A child. Tennis NSW, Football NSW, Swimming Australia and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are among the institutions accused of dragging their feet in joining a national redress scheme for child abuse.

The compensation claims for more than 500 victims have stalled because of the delay from the institutions named at the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.

Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the government had no constitutional power to force the relevant institutions to join the scheme,  telling them to stop dragging their "feet and sign up because not doing the right thing here is completely unacceptable".

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“We are working with institutions to help them sign up and will apply maximum pressure when necessary,” she said.

If bodies choose not to participate, abuse survivors stand to lose out on tens of thousands of dollars in compensation.

The federal government has so far chosen not to strip charity status from non-participants in the scheme , as recommended by a parliamentary committee in April.

Leonie Sheedy, chief executive of the Care Leavers Australasia Network, said there needed to be penalties - including taxation - for not participating.

“The government needs to start taking these redress laggards seriously,” Ms Sheedy said.

Since March, a range of Anglican, Baptist and Scouts bodies have joined the scheme, as well as the Salesian Catholic order. The Commonwealth, state and territory governments and 56 non-government organisations have now signed up.

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In November, more than half of the applications to the scheme were on hold because of non-participating bodies. By February, that proportion had fallen to 32 to per cent and by August to below 15 per cent of a total 3995 claims, which is equivalent to 542 victims.

While the Royal Commission estimated 60,000 Australians experienced child sexual abuse in institutions, only 361 applications for redress have been paid.

Labor this month called for another parliamentary committee to examine the scheme’s roll-out, which social services spokeswoman Linda Burney described as “excruciatingly slow”.

Ms Ruston said she had asked her department to fast-track applications and investigate how to improve the process.

The Australian Red Cross said it had received approximately 10 complaints of child sexual abuse across decades but was still deciding whether to join the redress scheme.

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So far it has told survivors to approach the Red Cross, which would investigate and decide on payment sizes itself. “Anyone with a claim will be treated with the utmost respect and dignity,” director of community programs, Kerry McGrath, said.

Swimming Australia also said it was undecided about joining. “We continue to take appropriate advice ahead of forming a view either way,” a spokeswoman said.

Both Football NSW and Tennis NSW said they were in discussions about whether to join with their national organisations, as well as Sports Australia.

A spokesman for the Jehovah’s Witnesses did not signal whether the church group intended to join but knew of no applications.

While many hearings of the Royal Commission explored child sexual abuse dating back decades, much more recent assaults can also give rise to claims. The scheme applies to children born before 30 June 2010 who suffered sexual abuse in an institution up until 1 July last year.

The maximum payout available to victims was cut from $200,000 - the amount recommended by the Royal Commission - to $150,000.

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