The National Redress Scheme
For several years, the Catholic Church has supported the creation of an independent process that would allow survivors of child sexual abuse to seek redress.
One of the key recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was the establishment of a National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
Church leaders confirmed their commitment to the Scheme during the final hearings of the Royal Commission.
The Commonwealth Government has established an independent agency to manage the Scheme. On 1 July 2018, the National Redress Scheme commenced, with survivors of child sexual abuse able to approach the Scheme at any time until 30 June 2027.
Under the Scheme, applications for redress are considered by independent assessors who decide on the appropriate levels of financial and other support, such as counselling services. The Catholic Church and other institutions participating in the Scheme will meet the costs of redress that the Scheme determines.
Church authorities will enter the Scheme when they are able to do so. Joining the Scheme is not an automatic process. It is necessary for an institution, such as a diocese, to apply to the Scheme and for that application to be approved by the Commonwealth. Church authorities are working with Commonwealth officials to facilitate entry into the Scheme as soon as possible.
Additionally, in some states, the relevant enabling legislation has not yet been passed, meaning dioceses and other Church authorities in those jurisdictions are unable to join the Scheme.
People wishing to access the Scheme can call 1800 737 377 or visit http://www.nationalredress.gov.au
Those who need immediate assistance can contact: Lifeline 13 11 14 or in an emergency, call 000
Participation in the National Redress Scheme is one way in which the Catholic Church is responding to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The Truth, Justice and Healing Council, which the Catholic Church established to interact with the Royal Commission, has provided four volumes of more than 1,000 pages of information for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia to consider as part of their response to the Royal Commission.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference and Catholic Religious Australia have formed a lay-led organisation called the Implementation Advisory Group, which will help the Catholic Church consider the Truth, Justice and Healing Council’s advice, the Royal Commission’s recommendations and other issues related to child protection and safeguarding.
Catholic Professional Standards Limited (CPSL) was set up to foster a culture of safety and care for children and vulnerable adults by developing National Catholic Safeguarding Standards.
CPSL will audit compliance with these Standards among Catholic dioceses, congregations and institutions providing education, health and aged care, social and community services, pastoral care and other services. CPSL will publicly report audit findings and provide education and training in respect of the Safeguarding Standards.
Many other changes have been made in recent years to help ensure Catholic settings are safe for children and vulnerable adults. They include protocols around formation of priests and religious, safeguarding policies for parishes and schools, and more responsive processes when allegations of child sexual abuse are made.
If you have any questions about the Church’s professional standards that do not directly relate to the Redress Scheme, the Implementation Advisory Group or Catholic Professional Standards Limited, you can access additional information here.
With thanks to the ACBC.