SA election: Key parties back national compensation scheme for sexual abuse victims

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26 February, 2018  |  Nick Harmsen  |  ABC News

 

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill has indicated a re-elected Labor government would be willing to sign up to a national redress scheme for victims of child sexual abuse in institutions.

The federal system, which is due to be finalised by June, would offer victims of institutional abuse compensation payments of up to $150,000.

The South Australian government had repeatedly refused to sign up, arguing a national scheme would inadequately account for the state's own system of ex-gratia payments of up to $50,000 for abuse victims.

But now, Mr Weatherill said progress had been made at a meeting between the Prime Minister and premiers this month.

"At COAG, we agreed to have the scheme finalised by June this year," Mr Weatherill said.

"There's an acceptance that South Australia's particular circumstances need to be taken into account.

"This is a national redress scheme that will happen and South Australia will assist in its setting up."

Xenophon campaigns for redress scheme

Labor's change came as SA Best leader Nick Xenophon sought to make joining a national redress scheme an election issue.

He held a minute's silence on the steps of Parliament House in Adelaide with abuse survivors from the Care Leavers Australasia Network.

 

The SA Best leader said the issue would be part of any balance-of-power negotiations beyond the March 17 election.

"These are important issues which need to be addressed and, unless we address them soon, it's going to be the case that some of these people won't be alive to get the redress they deserve," Mr Xenophon said.

"This really is mean-spirited for the government not to opt for this scheme. Other states are progressing towards it.

"It's not just about compensation, it's about getting issues into the open so it doesn't happen again and so that the victims can see what the State Government knew about this abuse in these homes over a number of years."

Mr Weatherill said Labor was taking a lead.

"Nick's demands that South Australia opts into that scheme have already been met," he countered.

"Of course there is some important detail about taking South Australia's existing contributions into account, because we were there first.

"We established this [ex-gratia payments] scheme before anybody else had dreamt up their own schemes and it needs to be properly taken into account."

The Premier said the perpetrators and institutions involved still needed to be properly held to account.

SA Liberal leader Steven Marshall indicated his party supported a national approach.

 

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