The National Redress Scheme was the result of The Royal Commission sexual abuse. The commission found rampant child sexual abuse across many Australian institutions. And as a result, they created National Redress Scheme payments to address childhood trauma in adults. It is an acknowledgement of the abuse that took place, and a way to hold those institutions accountable. The payments will help victims access counselling, receive a payment, and a response from the institution responsible.
How Does The System Work?
The NRS started on the 1st of July 2018. It will run for ten years. Victims of institutional child sexual abuse have until the 30th of June 2027 to file sexual abuse claims. It runs for ten years so that as many victims as possible have time to access the NRS.
Who Can Apply
- You can apply if you experienced child sexual abuse at the hands of an institution. The abuse must have taken place before the 1st of July 2018.
- You can apply if you are currently over the age of 18. Or if you turn 18 before the 30th of June 2028, when the scheme ends.
- If you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident of Australia, you can apply to the NRS.
- If you do apply, your application must be in by the 30th of June 2027.
How To Apply
The process itself is not complicated. There is an online form you can complete. Or you can download a paper application. There are three parts to the application, and you can also attach supporting documents and evidence.
If your application is rejected or you feel the amount offered is insufficient, you cannot bring up evidence you did not include in your original application. You must provide as much detail as possible. This is why legal advice is helpful, as a lawyer can help you through the application process. You can also nominate someone to complete the application on your behalf.
What Happens Next
Once your application has been received, the NRS team will call you to confirm receipt. If they need more information, they may ask you at this point.
An Independent Decision Maker will assess your application. And this can take some time. The IDM will take steps to keep your information safe and private, and will ask for more information where necessary. This may include sending some information to the institution responsible. You will find full details and what information may be shared within the application. The purpose of this is to seek records from the institution. They have eight weeks to respond with the requested information. Additionally, the IDM may contact child protection authorities or the police if there is a potential risk of ongoing abuse.
If the IDM determines that the events described in your application are likely to have happened, they will make you an offer of redress. You will receive an offer letter if your application is successful, and it will detail the different components of the redress offered. This includes counselling, an NRS payment, and a direct response from the institution. The letter will specify the payment amount and explain whether access to counselling is on offer. In some cases, you may receive an additional payment to pursue counselling services privately.
If you accept the offer, you simply need to sign and date the acceptance document and return it to the scheme within six months of the offer letter’s date. If you do not accept the offer, you can complete the ‘declining the offer’ document or do nothing at all. You cannot reapply to the scheme if you decline your offer. You can request a review if you disagree with the outcome of your application. A form for this is included with the offer letter. It is recommended that you consult AJB Stevens before accepting any offer made to you by the scheme. In many situations, people are entitled to a higher amount of compensation at common law, and AJB Stevens can offer you a obligation free assessment of your claim, and advise you on the best outcome you can achieve.
The Involved Institutions & Where To Find Help
You can search the government website for a specific institution, with more added all the time.
Redress Support Services can provide you with a variety of support options wherever you live. New South Wales has support from knowmore, Bravehearts, Link-Up NSW Aboriginal Corporation, The Women’s Cottage, and more.
Why You Should Seek Independent Legal Advice
National Redress Scheme payments vary on a case to case basis. There is a cap on payments, with the highest reserved for the worst cases. This is why it’s best to consult experts in child abuse laws in Australia. There are a lot of factors that go into the NRS payment decision. To ensure you get the best result possible, a lawyer should help you complete the application. A reputable lawyer for child abuse cases can advise you of your options. It’s risky to proceed without advice because the grounds for appeal are slim, and you cannot reapply if you are unhappy with your settlement. AJB Stevens can help you decide what is right for you.