On 17 April 2018, the Anglican Bishop of Tasmania Richard Condie came out in an opinion piece urging the Tasmanian Government to opt into the National Redress Scheme (NRS) (https://www.theadvocate.com.au/story/5347194/tasmanian-child-sex-abuse-victims-lawyer-slams-state-government-inaction). So far only Victoria and New South Wales have committed to the scheme with the Tasmanian Government saying only that the scheme is being actively considered by the Tasmanian Government. (The Advocate 22 April 2018).
To provide an alternative mechanism, outside the civil law framework, in which survivors of institutional child sexual abuse may seek redress. This means that these survivors, whom may have been road blocked from seeking redress within the strict parameters of the law, may now seek relief under the National Redress Scheme (“the Scheme”). The Scheme is intended to operate for 10 years.
The United Kingdom Independent Inquiry into Child Abuse (IICSA) has issued its report into the Child Migration Programmes of the 40’s and the 50’s. The full report is available at https://www.iicsa.org.uk/key-documents. IICSA has made three recommendations for the British Government to consider:
On 22 November 2017, the Western Australian Government introduced a Bill, taking its first steps towards abolishing the statute of limitations that have severely impacted an abuse victims ’ access to civil justice. Now, 4 months later, on 10 April 2018, the Bill was agreed to by the Legislative Assembly and will come into operation following Royal Assent and Proclamation.
Victoria and New South Wales were the first states to get on board with the National Redress Scheme (NRS) which is being established by the Federal Government following recommendations by the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse and is due to commence on 1 July 2018.
Under the Victorian National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Bill 2018, the Government will refer powers to the Commonwealth to ensure that Victorian state institutions participate in the scheme. As part of the scheme, eligible survivors of institutional child sexual abuse will be able to seek a range of redress options including monetary payments of up to $150,000, access to counselling services, and direct personal responses including an apology from the institutions or organisations responsible for their abuse.
The government will provide $500,000 in 2018-19 to transfer custody of the records of both the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory to the Attorney-General’s Department.
Dan Tehan, the Minister responsible for the National Redress Scheme (NRS) tabled legislation to establish the scheme to federal parliament on Wednesday coinciding with the Victorian Government’s legislation to refer powers which was tabled in Victorian parliament earlier this week.
Angela Sdrinis Legal is currently acting for victims of alleged sexual assaults in an Ashram. The five plaintiffs in these applications have brought proceedings in the County Court to recover damages for alleged sexual assault by the second named defendant whilst they were at an ashram conducted by the first named defendant.
The Tasmanian Government announced on 22 May 2018 that it will be opting into the National Redress Scheme (NRS) and that as of 1 July 2018 limitation periods with respect to child abuse claims, which has stood in the way of survivors applying to the courts for damages, will be removed.
The UK Independent Inquiry Into Child Abuse (IICSA) Recommends a Compensation Scheme for Child Migrants
In an interim report, IICSA has recommended to the UK Government that it set up a financial redress scheme for survivors of the Child Migrant Programme, which resulted in 130,000 British children were forcibly deported to Australia and other Commonwealth countries where they were subjected to hard labour and in many cases experienced severe physical and sexual abuse.
The National Redress Scheme (NRS) has commenced although it is not really a national scheme as yet because the only states which have passed legislation to refer powers to the Commonwealth to allow participation in the scheme are Victoria and New South Wales. There are also a number of very significant church and other bodies which have not “opted in” including the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Mormons and many other religious and non religious organisations.
On 25 July 2018, the Government introduced a bill to Parliament acknowledging that in the past, children who were made Wards of the State were charged with being in need of protection and that these charges appeared on a child’s criminal record. This meant that a child could have a criminal record for charges such as ‘being in moral danger,’ or ‘being exposed,’ – effectively being criminalised for being vulnerable. This is because the Victorian child welfare system and the criminal justice system for dealing with young offenders were not clearly differentiated, so protection orders were recorded on criminal histories. It was only in 1992 that the two systems were completely separated.
Angela Sdrinis Legal acts for a number of defence force personnel who suffered historical sexual and/or physical abuse in the armed forces. Many of those who suffered abuse as minors (Army Apprentices and Cadets) have viable common law claims for damages because of the abolition of limitation periods.
The Tasmanian government is to be commended for following the lead of South Australia and the ACT in tabling legislation allowing for harsh penalties for priests who fail to report suspected child abuse including disclosures that are made in the confessional.
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