The Tasmanian Government to Opt into the National Redress Scheme

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.

In recent weeks pressure had mounted on the Government in Tasmania to end their delays in taking these steps. There has been pressure on the Government through numerous newspaper articles, as well as in television Angela Sdrinis Legal has worked with Ella Haddad, the Shadow Attorney-General in Tasmania, as well as the leader of the Greens, Cassy O’Connor, who have applied pressure through the media and within Parliament, publicly and behind the scenes.

With regard to the Redress Scheme, the Government has said that prior settlements will be offset against any award of compensation under the NRS. The bill establishing the redress scheme provides that prior settlements must be adjusted for inflation and any award under the scheme will be reduced by the notional amount arrived at. Further, we know that whilst the maximum payable under the NRS will be $150,000, the Minister has stated that the average payment will be around $75,000. This means that a survivor of abuse who received an abuse in care payment under the Tasmanian Ombudsman Scheme after indexation may be close to or above the average payment and therefore receive no further or little additional compensation under redress. This will be a slap in the face for many survivors who have campaigned for the royal commission and redress but who will not have the benefit of the legislative changes like the abolition of limitation periods which means that now they could get their cases into court but as they have signed binding releases, they will be locked out of any further claim other than through the NRS.

We have other ongoing reservations regarding the NRS. Criminal convictions of five or more years will remain a bar to the accessing Redress payments, however it has been announced that the Government will look at individual cases for possible exemptions. The Attorney-General will be able to provide an exemption, however it is yet to be made clear what circumstances will lead to an exemption.

The removal of the limitation period means that survivors of abuse can now take action against those responsible for their abuse in Court. Importantly, it also provides the basis for the establishment of a protocol for out of Court settlements with the Tasmanian Government and other institutions. We hope that there will be further announcements shortly around how the Government will approach out of Court settlements to provide more certainty to survivors about their various rights.

Angela Sdrinis Legal will  be opening its Tasmanian office on Monday June 25th 2018 where we will provide confidential, personal, face to face advice to Tasmanian survivors of abuse.

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