9th March 2018 | David Lipson and Louise Yaxley | ABC News
Parishioners should pressure their churches to face up to the crimes committed against child sexual abuse survivors, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said.
Victoria and New South Wales have agreed to sign up to the National Redress Scheme, which provides up to $150,000 for survivors.
Their decision means churches, charities and other institutions in those two states can now sign up.
Mr Andrews said he hoped people attend services on Sunday and pause to think that the right thing to do is for their church to sign on.
"To make good, and try and make right for the crimes that were committed, the hurt, the pain, the terrible terrible breach of trust, betrayal of trust that the church was involved in for so long," the Victorian Premier said.
"I hope that is in people's minds and in their hearts as they attend mass on Sunday morning."
"I tell you what it will be in my mind and in my heart when I do that on Sunday."
He had the strong agreement of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian who all met with survivors of abuse this morning.
"Now is the time for the churches to sign up and get on with it — justice demands it" Mr Turnbull said.
If a church or a charity or an institution doesn't sign up I hope they will be shamed," he said.
Mr Andrews called it a fair and balanced national scheme and said there were no excuses for any church, charity "or frankly any other government in this nation to not sign on".
The redress scheme was one of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse but negotiations with the states have been prolonged and at one point were privately said to have "stalled".
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said the agreement with the two biggest states was a "giant step" towards a truly national redress scheme.
"Concessions were made across the board, some by the Commonwealth some by the state and territory governments," he said.
The announcement covers 9,000 people abused in New South Wales government institutions and 5,000 abused in Victoria and they will get access to payments even if they now live in other states.
Other states invited to get involved
The royal commission recommended payments of up to $200,000 and an average payment of $65,000 but the deal struck with NSW and Victoria caps payments at $150,000, although survivors, on average, will receive more.
"We've come up with a scheme where the average payment will be around $11,000 higher, but the maximum payment will only be $150,000," Mr Tehan told AM.
"We think that gets the balance right when it comes to encouraging state and territory governments and institutions to opt into the scheme."
He was hopeful the other states and territories, as well as non-government institutions, would soon sign up as well.
"Now that we've got New South Wales and Victoria on board, I am very confident that the other states and territories will follow and the scheme will stay intact as it is now."
Mr Turnbull acknowledged the scheme did not contain every element that every survivor of abuse might want.
"However this is a ground-breaking agreement which will benefit thousands of people," Mr Turnbull said.
"We owe it to the survivors for their courage in telling stories they have been too afraid to speak of, often for decades," Mr Turnbull said.
"Now that those stories have been told, now that they are on the record, we must do everything within our power to honour those stories and to act and to make sure that this national tragedy is never repeated."
'Ensures survivors secure recognition'
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said redress is an important part of recognising the impact of child abuse.
"New South Wales has driven the development of the National Redress Scheme hand in hand with the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments to ensure survivors secure recognition and support with the least possible delay and fuss," Ms Berejiklian said.
Payments are not available to people convicted of serious crimes or sex offences, but the Social Services Minister says there will be some exemptions.
"One of the things we have decided to do is that, where there are compelling cases where people should be able to access redress if they have a conviction, then on a case by case basis that will be looked at," Mr Tehan said.
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