Written by Jimmy Sisalio

Updated on August 29, 2023
The Child Abuse Royal Commission heard from survivors of child sexual abuse in a wide range of institutions and their family members. One of its many recommendations was the creation of a single National Redress Scheme to compensate for the abuse that survivors endured and to hold the institutions accountable.

The National Redress Scheme began operation on 1 July 2018.

National Redress Scheme

The National Redress Scheme allows survivors of institutional child sexual abuse to receive:

  1. a direct personal response, such as an apology, from the responsible institution;
  2. access to counselling and psychological services or a payment of up to $5,000; and,
  3. a National Redress Scheme payment of up to $150,000, depending on the severity and longevity of the abuse.

Participating institutions

The participating institutions – including many of those that no longer exist – can be searched on the National Redress Scheme website. For those that no longer exist, successor, parent or related institutions have in most cases been nominated to take on responsibility.

Participation by institutions in the Redress Scheme is voluntary. Where an institution refuses to participate, a survivor can still make an application in which case the institution may elect to “opt in” to the redress process.

Redress payment calculation

Redress compensation sums reference the severity of the abuse, its longevity and impact and other relevant circumstances.

The maximum payment of $150,000 goes only to cases of extreme abuse – including penetrative abuse of a person who was institutionally vulnerable – so egregious and disabling to the person as to be particularly severe.

Prior payments made for abuse will be taken into account and deducted from any maximum payment amount offered to a survivor.

Redress compensation cannot be seized to satisfy debts due to the Commonwealth and is not subject to income tax.

Elements of the claim

A survivor is limited to one application for redress. Applicants may include multiple episodes of sexual and non-sexual abuse suffered at multiple locations and institutions in the one application.

The test of ‘reasonable likelihood’ applies to applications for redress, ie the chance of an event occurring is more likely than not and is not fanciful or remote.

Sexual abuse defined

Sexual abuse of a child is defined as including:

“…any act which exposes the person to, or involves the person in, sexual processes beyond the person’s understanding or contrary to accepted community standards (e.g. exposing a child to pornography).”

Special process if applicant has criminal convictions

People with criminal convictions for which they served five or more years in jail must follow a special process that requires them to disclose:

  • the nature of the offence and period of imprisonment;
  • when the offence was committed and rehabilitation they have undergone since; and
  • other relevant information.

Offers of redress

Offers of redress have three components (see above). Survivors may choose to accept one, two or all three of the component offers. Applicants have six months to decide whether to accept the offer.

Deed of release

An applicant who intends to accept an offer of redress must – in consideration of the payment – “release “responsible participating institutions from further liability and must sign a document (“Deed”) to that effect.

Legal advice

Survivors should seek legal advice in compiling their application, when an offer is received and in relation to any Deed they are asked to sign either from knowmore (free advice) or through their own expert sexual abuse lawyer. Contact us today for a confidential, obligation-free consultation.