24 June 2021

Forrest Tennis Club named and shamed for not signing up to National Redress Scheme

| Lottie Twyford
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Forrest Tennis Club is now blocked from applying for Australian Government grants. Photo: Forrest Tennis Club.

The Forrest Tennis Club is ineligible to apply for future Commonwealth funding after being named and shamed as having failed to sign up for the National Redress Scheme.

Following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Scheme was introduced three years ago to provide redress for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse.

Institutions were expected to sign up so that survivors could more easily claim redress.

However, after many organisations named in the Royal Commission or other applications to the Scheme failed to sign up, the government introduced the possibility of financial penalties, such as being excluded from grants while charitable organisations could lose their charitable status.

The Forrest Tennis Club was the only ACT venue of three institutions named nationally that did not sign up. The others were the CYMS Basketball Association in Victoria and Devonport Community Church in Tasmania.

Federal Minister for Families and Social Services and Minister for Women’s Safety Anne Ruston said it was unacceptable that these institutions had failed in their moral obligation to join the Scheme.

“These are institutions which know they have been named in applications and yet they have chosen to shirk their responsibility to finally do the right thing by these survivors,” she said.

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The Ginninderra Cricket Club in Belconnen was among seven institutions that had taken steps to join but were ultimately found not to have met the Scheme’s legislative requirements and were therefore unable to join.

However, Ms Ruston announced the government would continue to expand the Scheme so institutions that did not meet current requirements could still join.

It was also announced today (23 June) that elderly or terminally ill survivors of institutional child sex abuse would be able to access advance payments of $10,000.

An independent review of the Scheme outlined several amendments to improve outcomes for survivors, including simplifying the complex application process to reduce wait times.

In its interim response to the report, the Federal Government has committed to implementing 25 out of the 28 recommendations, with a full response expected to be provided by early 2022.

The national centre for excellence for complex trauma, the Blue Knot Foundation, publicly welcomed the report but called for the government’s full response to be expedited.

Blue Knot president Dr Cathy Kezelman said that as the third anniversary of the Scheme was fast approaching, survivors had been waiting for too long for the survivor-focussed scheme they were promised.

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“The proposed changes must simplify the application process and, crucially, speed it up. A review of the assessment matrix and greater transparency around this is critical. The current matrix is ill-conceived, ill-informed, and its behind the scenes application is traumatising,” Dr Kezelman said.

She also called for improvements to the Scheme’s workforce, namely around training, recruitment, supervision and support. She said that “training and quality improvement processes for independent decision-makers are a must”.

“Decisions must be fair, equitable and informed by current knowledge of institutional child sexual abuse.”

Currently, the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and more than 490 non-government institutions are participating in the Scheme.

To date, 5920 payments have been made under the Scheme totalling $502.6 million, while 10,936 applications had been received and 6,670 outcomes delivered.

Representatives from Forrest Tennis Club declined to comment on the matter.

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 all 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.

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While its horrific that people have experienced abuse and full sympathy toward that, the core issue here is what appears to be govt bullying to join a scheme for something a particular club may not have any exposure to.

In terms of democracy, its a bad look. It does look and sound very “China social credit score” – like whereby you either toe the line, or get penalized socially etc.

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