‘Big stick’ approach needed to improve redress scheme
INSTITUTIONS not signed on to the National Redress Scheme for sexual abuse should be penalised, says a prominent law firm.
It has been revealed the scheme’s governance board is continuing to delay compensation payments.
Maurice Blackburn’ abuse law principal, Michelle James, said it was crucial that institutions signed up to the National Redress Scheme, because until they do so, survivors cannot have their applications processed.
Institutions failing to join the scheme have been called out to face financial penalties through suspension of tax concessions, the suppression of charitable status or withdrawal of their government funding.
Ms James said despite the June 30 deadline for institutions to sign up, many of those with the financial capacity to join the scheme had still not done so.
“Financial penalties are needed in addition to naming and shaming institutions that fail to sign up to national redress,” Ms James said.
“There’s no excuse.”
In an inquiry into the implementation of the National Redress Scheme, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University, Kathleen Daly, said the scheme required cooperative participation by institutions, trust in government and flexibility for survivors.
The inquiry proposed on April 15 to use positive modes of persuasion first before escalating to punitive or shaming measures.
“We will gather evidence on what prevents institutions from joining the NRS and what can facilitate their joining and take a targeted and strategic approach based on the evidence,” Professor Daly said.
However many institutions are failing to sign up to the redress with some survivors dying before they receive compensation.
“Clearly the carrot approach isn’t working,” Ms James said.
“It’s high time for state and federal governments to bring out their big stick.”
She said she would continue to urge the Federal Government to step up as the funder of last resort for national institutions to ensure the scheme can operate efficiently.