WARNING: Some readers may find this story distressing.
Emmaus Christian School is the only ACT institution to sign up to the National Redress Scheme in its latest round of applications.
It was among 34 institutions around the country that joined, including Jehovah’s Witnesses, Tennis Australia and a range of other schools, churches and organisations.
Joining the Scheme allows survivors of institutionalised sexual abuse to have their applications for financial redress and other support processed.
The announcement allowed 37 already-lodged applications to be further progressed.
Emmaus School board chair Laura Day said the Scheme aligned with the school’s core values and it was a “straightforward” decision to sign up.
“This decision was not taken because of any applications made against us or fear thereof,” she said.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston welcomed the commitment from the latest group of institutions to join the Scheme, many of which had not been named in an application yet.
She reminded people that institutions that have been named in a survivor’s application are expected to join the National Redress Scheme.
After an application is received, an institution has only six months to sign up.
“Any institution which fails to participate will be named and shamed, become ineligible for Commonwealth grants and risk being stripped of their charitable status and, therefore, lose associated tax concessions,” Ms Ruston said.
“It is clear that the powerful financial, reputational and legislative levers the Commonwealth has used have been successful at ensuring institutions understand and recognise their moral obligation to survivors.
“We are also working hard to make sure that every institution with a history of working with young people joins the Scheme no matter when a survivor comes forward to access redress through the Scheme.”
The Forrest Tennis Club has previously been named for failing to sign up for the scheme, making it ineligible for any government funding.
Last month, two survivors of child sexual abuse committed at the Club in the 1980s came forward to urge the club to sign up to the Scheme. Former coach John Cattle – the victims’ abuser – was last year sentenced to prison.
At the time, ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner Heidi Yates described the club’s failure to engage with the Scheme as “extremely concerning”.
It’s been reported today that Senator Ruston is calling for the ACT Government to freeze the Forrest Tennis Club out of ACT Government grant programs and make it ineligible for any future funding.
As of Friday, 3 September, the National Redress Scheme had received over 11,000 applications and 6,208 payments have been made to a total of more than $529.3 million.
The Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and 526 non-government institutions across Australia are already participating in the Scheme.
Further information about the National Redress Scheme is available online.
If this story has brought up any issues, you can contact the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre’s support line on 6247 2525 between 7:00 am and 11:00 pm for all counselling-related inquiries, including appointments and referrals.
1800RESPECT, the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service, can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 737 732.