6th March, 2018 | ABC News
Victorian Senator Derryn Hinch has promised to push the Federal Government to expand the national redress scheme to cover physical and psychological abuse suffered by children in institutions as well as sexual abuse.
At a Senate committee hearing on the scheme in Melbourne today, Senator Hinch's voice crackedas he told representatives of the Care Leavers' Australasia Network (CLAN) that until hearing their evidence he had been "blinkered."
"As one of the people pushing for a royal commission, I totally locked myself in on the sexual abuse of children," he said.
"And hearing you today, if we can't get this redress scheme I think we need another royal commission."
The former broadcaster once dubbed the "Human Headline" said those who suffered physical abuse while in care were a "very important group".
"In my days in radio and television I was totally focused on victims of sexual assault," Mr Hinch said.
"And anything I can do for you to try and broaden this, I promise you I will."
'A hierarchy of suffering'
Frank Golding from CLAN said the unintended consequence of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was a "hierarchy of suffering".
"There is no impediment, legal or moral, to the Parliament including all forms of abuse in a national redress scheme", he said.
Mr Golding told the committee CLAN agreed with the Law Council of Australia's submission.
"They say that while the royal commission was restricted … to only make recommendations about sexual abuse, governments and institutions are not so limited and can and should extend the findings to all forms of child abuse, including serious physical abuse that occurred in and around institutions and caused serious and long-term damage."
Victims betrayed because of church lobbying, advocate tells hearing
Also at the hearing today, victims' advocate Chrissie Foster gave evidence that she was convinced the Federal Government lowered the redress scheme cap from $200,000 to $150,000after pressure from the churches.
"It is because the Department of Social Services was in workshops with the churches and decided to reduce the redress payment by a quarter," Ms Foster said.
Ms Foster told the inquiry victims had been betrayed.
"Did the federal politicians who approved this significant cut to the redress attend a single royal commission hearing?" Ms Foster asked.
"Is this what we have to look forward to? Watered down recommendations after workshops with the churches?"
'No idea' how the cap came about: Catholic Church
But the chief executive of the Catholic Church's Truth Justice and Healing Council Francis Sullivan denied the Church had lobbied the Federal Government to set a lower cap.
"Our council firstly started with the idea of no cap and then it became patently clear that no government was interested in entering a redress scheme without a cap," he said.
"Our council came up with $150,000 for the Catholic Church and we submitted that formally to the royal commission; the royal commission came out with $200,000," he told the hearing.
Mr Sullivan said he had "no idea" how the Federal Government decided on a cap of $150,000 and said the Catholic Church was not part of those discussions.
The national redress scheme is due to start in July, but as yet no state or territory has agreed to join it.
The Senate committee report on the scheme is due next week.
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