The West Australian
« back to previous page
There were angry and emotional scenes at Parliament yesterday as victims of abuse in State care and their supporters protested against the Barnett Government’s shock decision to slash by almost half the maximum payment under the Redress scheme.
Colin Barnett was heckled and confronted by victims as he addressed the crowd to justify the decision last month to cap payments at $45,000.
Some of the 150 protesters fought back tears as victims yelled out details of abuse at the hands of former carers.
Organisers promised a long campaign to ensure the decision was reversed and warned yesterday’s rally was the first of many.
When the previous Labor government announced the compensation scheme in 2007, it said applicants could get up to $80,000 if they had medical or psychological evidence of abuse in State care. More than 10,000 victims, including former child migrants and Stolen Generation Aboriginals, applied.
Community Services Minister Robyn McSweeney told the crowd the previous government failed to put aside enough money for the scheme.
Labor MP Sue Ellery, who was the minister responsible at the time, said she got the best advice available but was sorry if she got the numbers wrong.
She said Labor would have topped up the fund so payments were not cut and called on the Government to honour the original commitment.
The Premier said $90 million had been set aside for ex-gratia payments but the Government would allocate more if required.
Protesters carried banners claiming: Labor cut open old scars, Libs rub salt in them; Minister McSweeney, Minister McMeanie; Abused in the State, betrayed by Barnett and Government’s word is only half of what it used to be.
The issue dominated the first day back at Parliament, with the Opposition moving in both Houses to condemn the Government’s decision.
Paul Bradshaw, 65, who was abused in State care, said he felt compelled to speak out because he was frustrated by more than 20 years of broken promises from politicians. He feared many victims would die before they got payment.
He felt he had been stabbed in the back by the decision. “Five of my mates have died since this started,” he said. “We’ll be dead by the time they decide to give anybody anything.”
Ryan Kelly, 47, said he applied for a payment because he wanted what happened to him to be acknowledged.