Malcolm Turnbull

Turnbull: Churches ‘judged harshly’ if They Don’t Sign National Redress Scheme

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that churches and charities will be judged if they don’t sign up to the national redress scheme. This scheme was set up to compensate survivors of child abuse.

Victoria and NSW have both signed onto the scheme. Now Turnbull is urging charities and churches to do the same.

Turnbull wants institutions and charities to be shamed if they refuse to join the national redress scheme for child sex abuse survivors.

Thousands of survivors are set to gain access to compensation after Victoria and NSW signed on to the federal government’s $3.8 billion scheme.

The prime minister on Friday hailed the two states for opting in and urged others to follow their lead.

If they don’t, he said, they will be ‘judged very harshly.’

If a church or a charity or institution doesn’t sign up, I hope they will be shamed and we will be using the megaphones we have to encourage them to sign up,’ Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

If they don’t they will fail the test of justice and they will fail the people they seek to represent.’

In announcing the deal with Victorian premier Daniel Andrews and NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday, the prime minister said it was a historic moment for people who have suffered ‘cruel and evil’ violence.

It paved the way for more than 9000 people who were sexually abused in NSW government institutions and 5000 in Victorian government institutions to access to the national scheme.

Mr Andrews said there was now no excuse for churches, other non-government organisations or state and territory governments to sign on to the scheme.

Ms Berejiklian said the scheme was a result of brave survivors who came forward to ensure future children would not experience what many others went through. 

Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said having the two largest states on board was a ‘giant’ step.

I would be very surprised if we don’t get the non-government institutions on board,’ Mr Tehan told ABC radio.

I would say you have a moral responsibility to join this scheme.’

The deal caps payments at $150,000 per person, lower than the $200,000 maximum payment recommended by a royal commission.

But the average payment is around $11,000 higher than the commission’s recommendation of $65,000.

Mr Tehan dismissed suggestions the lower cap was a response to pressure from the Catholic Church.

The final amounts were done based on modelling and consideration given to make sure we could get as many institutions — both government and non-government — to opt in,’ he said.

Sex offenders or anyone jailed for five years or more for serious crimes remain excluded from the scheme, despite widespread opposition including from survivor groups and all of Australia’s major churches.

Mr Turnbull said there may be a degree of discretion in special cases but the exclusion was necessary to maximise participation in the scheme.

Once the remaining states and territories and non-government institutions sign on, the scheme is expected to cover 60,000 people nationally.

Victorian and NSW victims of abuse will be able to access the scheme from 1 July.

The Australian Tribune with AAP

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