Survivors of child sexual abuse that occurred in ACT Government institutions will have access to counselling and cash compensation as result of the Territory signing up to the national Redress Scheme.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr urged non-governmental institutions operating in the Territory to follow the Government’s lead and opt-in as well to the scheme, which was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“The ACT Government acknowledges that survivors of child sexual abuse suffer long lasting and severe damage that can affect them for the rest of their lives. Opting-in to the national Redress Scheme is an important step in acknowledging the harm caused by institutionalised child sexual abuse and accepting responsibility,” Mr Barr said.
“We are working to ensure the Scheme, which will begin operating on 1 July, meets the needs of survivors and assists in their recovery.”
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Mr Barr said opting-in means that eligible survivors from the ACT would now have access to counselling and psychological services, monetary payments of up to $150,000 and receive a direct personal response from the institution where the abuse occurred.
He said much of the Scheme’s detail was still to be finalised, with Attorney-General, Gordon Ramsay, meeting with his state and territory counterparts to work with them on ensuring that it met the needs of survivors and was broadly accessible to all victims of institutional child sexual abuse.
Mr Ramsay said the decision to become one of the first jurisdictions to opt-in to the national Redress Scheme was another example of ACT leading the way in addressing the findings and recommendations of the Royal Commission.
“In many respects, the ACT’s legislative regime for the prosecution of sexual offences sets a national benchmark,” Mr Ramsay said.
“A number of the measures recommended by the Royal Commission were already in place in the ACT, including the removal of statutory limitation periods on prosecution of historic sexual offences.
“I look forward to continuing to work with my counterparts in the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions to develop a national Redress Scheme that meets the needs of all survivors of institutionalised child sexual abuse.”
The Chief Minister said that in August 2016, the ACT Government passed amendments to remove limitation periods for civil actions on child sexual abuse in an institutional context, and in May 2017, the Government expanded those laws to apply to all claims for compensation in response to abuse.
“The removal of these limitation periods acknowledges the fact that it may take survivors of child sexual abuse in this context years, if not decades, to disclose their experience, let alone commence civil litigation proceedings,” he said.
“In the coming days and weeks, the Government will consult with the community on further criminal justice amendments recommended by the Royal Commission, and continue to develop the ACT Government’s formal response to the Royal Commission that we have committed to delivering in June this year.”