Commonwealth Redress Scheme: A Good Start

The Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement of a Redress Scheme with the support of the Victorian and New South Wales governments.

The announcement which responds to Recommendation Two of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which called for

“Appropriate redress for survivors should include the elements of:

          a) Direct personal response

          b) Counselling and psychological care

          c) Monetary payment.”

VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett after the announcement today said,

“While we are pleased that a Scheme will become a reality on 1 July this year, we will continue to seek a Redress Scheme that includes acknowledgment of the cultural abuse of Aboriginal children and a resolution to the issue of victims with criminal records who will not be able to apply for redress.

Cultural abuse refers to the inability of Aboriginal victims who were removed and sexually abused in institutions to access their culture and community which consequently denied them a life of Aboriginal identity and culture. Many of the Stolen Generations were abused in the institutions they were sent to.

Many of these people, partly as a consequence of their removal and abuse became entangled in the criminal justice system including having criminal records. The fact that the current Redress Scheme denies these people access is a further travesty and injustice to people who have continued to be victimised throughout their lives.”

Since the commencement of the Royal Commission, VACCA has provided support to 85 clients. Of those, 19 clients (all male) were in prison representing 22% of the clients we have supported.

The Royal Commission, in their final report, stated that 10.4% of all those who told their story to the Royal Commission were in prison at the time – 32.3% of those were Aboriginal.

Given that the Redress Scheme will likely exclude those with criminal records or incarcerated potentially, one in five Aboriginal victims may be barred from seeking redress.

The Victorian Government has said they will consider those with criminal records on a case-by-case basis and we await their advice about this.

Another issue is that redress and compensation to the families of victims will affect those who do not have wills. Many Aboriginal people do not have wills.

There are still other matters to be resolved before this Scheme becomes a just Redress Scheme and we will continue to advocate for those changes to ensure that victims do not fall through the gaps.

“We also encourage the other states and institutions to opt-in to the Scheme to make it accessible to thousands more victims.”