On Friday, 27 November 2020, the Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator the Hon Anne Ruston, hosted the Ministers’ Redress Scheme Governance Board (Board) meeting of relevant Ministers with responsibility for the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (the Scheme) in their state or territory.
Ministers acknowledged the significant improvement made by the Scheme to process applications, and agreed that finalisation of applications for survivors must continue to be expedited.
As at 20 November 2020, 4,260 applications had been finalised, including 4,221 payments made, totalling around $350 million, with an average payment of around $83,000. There are 303 non-government institutions covering more than 54,050 sites.
There were 158 institutions named in applications or in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that committed to join the Scheme by 31 December 2020 and most are on track. Ministers agreed that on 4 January 2021, the Commonwealth would publicly name those institutions which had failed to join by 31 December 2020. This would be the second group of institutions publicly named following the initial naming, which occurred on 1 July 2020. The Board noted the ongoing work of Minister Ruston and the department in working with institutions to join the Scheme before 31 December 2020.
As agreed by the Board in April 2020, any institution that does not join the Scheme by the relevant deadline may face financial consequences applied by State, Territory or Commonwealth governments. The Board is committed to taking necessary steps to maximise institutional participation so survivors can access redress.
Ministers supported the work underway by the Commonwealth to remove the charitable status of those institutions who have been named as failing to join the Scheme. This includes introducing legislation this year, which amends the definition of a basic religious charity in the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Act 2012 to remove a religious institution’s eligibility to be classified as a basic religious charity if it has been named in an application but refuses to join the Scheme.
Ministers welcomed the update provided by Ms Robyn Kruk AO, the Independent Reviewer of the second anniversary review of the Scheme. Ms Kruk advised the meeting on the progress of the review. More than 70 consultations have been undertaken with stakeholders, including with survivors and survivor advocacy groups, states and territories, non-government institutions and support services. A number of these consultations have included discussions with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander survivors. The review called for written submissions between July and September and 177 submissions have been received to date. Ms Kruk’s final report is due by the end of February 2021.
Ministers agreed the future priorities for the Board will include considering the recommendations from the second anniversary review, implementing improvements to the Scheme for survivors and on-boarding institutions to the Scheme as quickly as possible.