The National Redress Scheme – Selling Abuse Victims Short
The Redress Scheme for victims of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse seemed like a worthy attempt to provide compensation to victims on a fairly simplistic basis of one-off payments.
Time has shown us however, that this apparent largesse on behalf of the participating institutions is not all it was purported to be. While for those for whom there is no other avenue to seek monetary compensation, it may hold some small benefit, but for those with claimable actions, nothing could be further from the truth.
It can be quite a trap.
It has come to our attention that the National Redress Scheme is now being ever more actively pressed, approaching individuals directly and encouraging them to seek payments under the Redress Scheme.
There are a multitude of problems with this process and victims need to be warned before they sign off their rights to seek proper compensation through a civil process. Make no mistake, the National Redress Scheme is a way for institutions to pay victims as little as possible, and prevent them from seeking due process of law to be properly compensated.
The pitfalls that may arise are:
- Payments offered are almost always a modicum of what could be achieved in making a claim through the Courts. Some payments are just plain insulting.
- Claimants are not offered independent legal advice as to the nature of the contract they are entering into under the Scheme. This is a disgrace, and would be unenforceable under a normal commercial contractual agreement.
- Claimants are often at a great disadvantage as to their understanding of the process and what it entails. This is a sophisticated contract drawn up by experts, to be agreed to by those the least able to comprehend it.
- Once a claimant has agreed to the Redress Scheme undertaking and have been paid, they are forever barred from taking further action under a civil suit. They are contracted out of the right to further claim.
- Often claimants have issues of substance abuse and addiction making them vulnerable to a quick payout regardless of the amount.
- The top payout amount achievable under the Scheme is $150,000, (for the worst case scenario and rarely achieved), the average payout for cases of serious abuse is said to be $80,000, many are well below this amount.
- While not counted as income, payments under the scheme are counted as assets and may affect Centrelink payments.
We were recently distressed to hear of one victim who was approached through social media to apply to the National Redress Scheme, which they then in ignorance, proceeded to do. They wound up getting $7,000 nett, hardly a worthwhile outcome compared to a claim estimated to be in the hundreds of thousands. They are now forever prevented from making that claim
So what is the process and comparative result if you make a claim through the courts?
Firstly, be assured that taking an action through the court system does not mean you have to go to hearing and appear in Court. Virtually all claims are settled prior to any hearing, and issues of confidentiality are always respected and adhered to.
Compensation itself is based on such things as
- the history of the individual,
- the lack of educational opportunities that may have occurred due to the abuse,
- the difference between potential average weekly earnings compared with what was achieved by the individual, and
- the historical aspirations of the claimant as a point of comparison.
This process establishes an estimation of past and future economic loss over a person’s total working life. This is then added to the pain and suffering of the victim, both at the time and over the subsequent years, as well as past and future medical expenses.
There are also other damages that can be sought.
Clearly the most modest of working lifetimes can be seen to generate over $80,000 over the period. Every case is unique, but without a shadow of a doubt, a civil claim will generate a result many times that of any Redress Scheme payment, and that is why institutions want victims to access the Redress Scheme. In the end, it is about money.
The term “redress” is defined as ‘making right”. Unless a victim is in the situation where there is no possible avenue for making a claim through the Courts, the National Redress Scheme should be a last resort for victims. It doesn’t make anything “right”, and the basis of it is wrong on so many levels.
If you are a victim of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, and are considering some form of compensation, call and seek advice as to what is best for you. It will cost you nothing, and could save you from being the victim yet again. Call, we care.