27 August 2021: Commonwealth Government proposes further changes to the National Redress Scheme

The Commonwealth Government has introduced a series of Bills that proposes several changes to the National Redress Scheme.

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt introduced two bills on Thursday for the scheme covering the Northern Territory and the ACT.

Families Minister Anne Ruston also announced the Retta Dixon Home in Darwin, where children were allegedly abused from 1947 to 1980, and previously barred from the scheme by federal officials, will now be covered.

The federal government announced that the South Australian, Tasmanian, NSW and Victorian governments have also agreed to accept funder of last resort responsibilities for an additional 17 defunct institutions.

Minister Ruston said it means more than 44 applications could now be progressed and encouraged all survivors who may have been holding off putting forward an application to do so to and be considered for redress.

The following announcement have been made with respect to funders of last resort:

Commonwealth Government has agreed to be the Funder of Last Resort for:

  • Retta Dixon Home

New South Wales Government has agreed to be the Funder of Last Resort for:

  • Bomaderry Children’s Home 
  • Foundation for Aboriginal Affairs

South Australian Government has agreed to be the Funder of Last Resort for:

  • Colebrook Home
  • Finniss Springs Mission
  • Gerard Mission
  • Gerard Mission Children’s Dormitory
  • Kali Boys’ Hostel 
  • Nepabunna Mission
  • Northcote Home
  • Oodnadatta Children’s Home
  • Ooldea Mission 
  • Tanderra Girls Home
  • Swan Reach Mission
  • Umeewarra Mission 
  • Umeewarra Mission Children’s Home

Tasmanian Government has agreed to be the Funder of Last Resort for:

  • Tasmanian Government: Launceston Girls’ Home

Victorian Government has agreed to be the Funder of Last Resort for:

  • Ten20 Foundation

A third bill seeks to establish a $10,000 up-front payment for scheme applicants who are elderly or terminally ill.

Under the new s 56B, if a person has made an application for redress under the National Redress Scheme, the Operator of the scheme may make an advance payment for the person in the amount of $10,000 if one or more of the following apply:

  • the person is aged 70 or over.
  • the person is aged 55 or over and is an Aboriginal 4 person or Torres Strait Islander.
  • the person is terminally ill.
  • there are exceptional circumstances justifying the advance payment being made.

Families Minister Anne Ruston has encouraged survivors to access the scheme, noting that the number of Indigenous applicants had been low.

"We want to make sure that particularly Indigenous Australians come forward, because we actually have had a lower than expected number of people in the Northern Territory being able to come forward," she said.

The proposed Bill also removes the current requirement under s 19(2)(d) of the Act that the information in the application must be verified by statutory declaration.

Robyn Kruk, the chair of Mental Health Australia and a former independent assessor for the Defence Abuse Taskforce, oversaw an independent Second Year review of the scheme earlier this year. The report made 38 recommendations for rapid reform of the Scheme to improve its value to survivors.

“This is the first step in our commitment to implement the recommendations of the Second Year Review,” Minister Ruston said.

By David Longano 
Solicitor

Law Institute Victoria Accredited Personal Injury Specialists

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