At the recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Australian Parliament has created a Redress Scheme for victims of institutional sexual abuse. On the 1st of July 2018, the National Redress Scheme was launched. It will run for ten years.
There are several important things you need to know before you apply to the Redress Scheme:
You should talk to a specialist solicitor BEFORE you contact the Scheme. The solicitor will assess your case and will make sure you have the best chance to receive the maximum redress. Don’t make the mistake of going in unrepresented. You literally get one chance to get it right. If you don’t accept what you are offered your application lapses and you get nothing. Don’t let that happen.
Do not apply to the Scheme if you have never received any money from a church, institution or charity. There are important options to consider before thinking about redress. The Scheme is a compensation of last resort. It is just one of your options for achieving a payment.
The Scheme will be open for ten years. There is time to explore all the options. Don’t be rushed into redress by advocacy groups who mean well but aren’t qualified to give legal advice. Even submitting an application can have unintended consequences; once the NRS makes an offer there is no turning back. If you don’t accept what you are offered you will get nothing and you can’t re-apply again.
The Scheme says it has free lawyers to assist you. What this means is you will be referred out to a Community Legal Centre somewhere in Australia. Most public solicitors at CLC’s can help you with an application form but they don’t have experience running compensation claims against big institutions. As a survivor of child abuse, you deserve your own solicitor who is a genuine expert and can fully advise you.
The Scheme will not help you unless you were sexually abused. This means victims of serious violence are not covered by the National Redress Scheme. You will need to get a solicitor to help you if you were not sexually abused. This is a specialist area of the law.
The Scheme may not help you if you were abused by a foster parent while you were a ward of the State. The department of social services suggests you are covered, but this is not set in stone yet. This is a complex area of the law and you need to speak to a specialist solicitor if you were abused by a foster parent.
You cannot appeal a decision from the National Redress Scheme. If the Scheme makes you an offer you don’t agree with you can only ask for the decision to be reviewed by another Decision Maker at the NRS. Then you have six months to take the last offer. If you miss the deadline it’s all over. The offer is withdrawn and the door shuts. You cannot apply again. Your only hope is to find a lawyer to take your case to the High Court. And that will cost you thousands of dollars. The politicians removed the right to appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to keep the cost of the Scheme as cheap as possible and to force victims to take what they are offered.
Deciding to apply for redress is an important decision. Your claim is a valuable asset. You only have one chance to get it right with the Scheme. It’s important you don’t sell yourself short.
If you are thinking about applying for redress, contact Kelso Lawyers today. Our team will expertly assess your case and provide you with the best advice for redress or compensation. There is no upfront cost to you and no obligation when talking to a legal specialist – we are here to help.
Call 02 4907 4200 and speak with our team today.