28th February 2019 | Rachel Eddie | The NewDaily
Child sex abuse survivors have welcomed the move to name 49 churches and institutions that have no plans to pay their victims.
A list published on Thursday revealed major religious organisations are among those refusing to join the National Redress Scheme, set up by the federal government to help survivors get justice.
“I rang weekly, when is the naming and shaming happening?” said Leonie Sheedy, the CEO of CLAN, which advocates for care leavers.
Jehovah’s Witnesses abuse survivor Sarah Blaire, an alias, said Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher could have put the pressure on sooner.
“I think it could have been quicker, just to add more pressure on them. We don’t need to give them more time. They’ve had enough time to do what they can and they’re doing as little as possible,” she told The New Daily.
“I think [naming them] will help. It will add to the pressure, but I don’t think that they will respond. I don’t think that it will work. It’s not sufficient pressure.”
All of the institutions named had a week to clarify their position.
Ms Sheedy and Ms Blaire both wanted the institutions to have their tax-free charity status revoked, and for penalties to be introduced for those who won’t co-operate.
“What are the penalties for them if they don’t join? It’s not enough,” Ms Sheedy told The New Daily.
“You need to be transparent in our society. They enjoy a benefit that is provided by the Australian taxpayer, and crimes were committed in these institutions.”
A total of 110 groups named in the royal commission haven’t signed up, but 61 of those plan to or are in the process of doing so. There are 27 non-government institutions on board.
It’s understood the Department of Social Services had “cold called” 29 institutions who had not engaged by the end of November.
Ms Sheedy said many care leavers have to wait for three or even five institutions to sign up, and that victims are dying while they wait.
Two have already died, she said.
“We got passed around like a parcel. And so we’re disadvantaged once again, because we have to wait for all the institutions before it will be settled.
“The more they delay, the more care leavers die.”
Payments are distributed according to a person’s will if they die before seeing justice.
Earlier this month, Ballarat abuse survivor Stephen Wood told The New Daily there was no excuse for institutions not to join.
“Those that haven’t signed up, why? Why not? What are they doing? It’s not like they haven’t been proved that they’ve allowed sexual assault and sex crimes to happen in their communities and their organisations,” Mr Wood said.
“Well now is the time to pay up. You allowed these pedophiles, these sex criminals to – you pandered to their needs, and you pandered to your organisation’s history and making sure that you could still access power in society and people’s money.
“Well now’s the time to pay up.”
The National Redress Scheme launched in July, but only 51 payments had been made as at February 1 after eight months and 2728 applications. The average payment was $79,035.
Another 19 offers have been made to survivors, who have six months to accept or request a review.
Of those 2728 applications, only about one-third, or 927 claims, are able to be processed at this stage.
There are 869 applications that relate to institutions that aren’t yet participating, Senate estimates heard last week.
Ms Sheedy wants the redress scheme to be overhauled to include all forms of institutionalised abuse. She also wants them to stop indexing former compensation payments at 1.9 per cent a year, and then docking it from their redress claims.
Survivors who have been jailed for five or more years also have to seek approval from relevant attorneys-general.
By late November, 42 redress applicants had serious criminal convictions and 12 were in jail.
An estimated total of 60,000 survivors are eligible under the scheme.
Call the National Redress Scheme on 1800 737 377.
If you need help, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or 1800 Respect.
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