The National Redress Scheme has been in place for several years now, and the latest figures show that almost 40,000 applications have been lodged, and almost half of them have been processed so far. With almost 15,000 payments already made, the scheme has now undergone another change, and it’s good news for many victim-survivors across the country. 

The National Redress Scheme Defined 

The National Redress Scheme was created after the Royal Commission Sexual Abuse. The commission found a history of child sexual abuse across various institutions and set up the sexual abuse compensation scheme to provide some form of justice for victim-survivors. 

In addition to monetary compensation, the NRS can provide therapeutic support and provide an apology from the institution responsible for the abuse that occurred. 

If you are the victim-survivor of historical childhood sexual abuse that occurred before the 1st of July, 2018, you turn 18 before the 30th of June, 2028, are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident, then you are eligible to make an NRS claim. Before you do so, you should speak to family sexual abuse lawyers because the NRS claims are capped at $150,000. You may prefer to pursue a civil case, and a lawyer can advise you on your options and which path may be more suitable to your situation. 

The Changes 

Before this NRS update, prisoners could only lodge sexual abuse claims in incredibly specific circumstances. Summed up, the changes are as follows: 

  • Related to the allowance for prisoners, the scheme will reduce the need for applicants with criminal convictions to undergo special assessments. 
  • It also removes the restrictions that were preventing prisoners from applying.

If you are currently in prison, you can now apply to the NRS. During the initial royal commission, over 800 of the 8000 victim-survivors who privately spoke about the abuse they suffered were in prison at the time. That’s over 10% of the group that was heard, and they shared their experiences without any promise of compensation and then were excluded from the redress scheme despite their efforts to shed light on the abuse that had been rife in so many institutions across Australia. 

This change doesn’t mean every prisoner is eligible to apply – those convicted of murder and sexual offences are still not eligible to apply for redress. 

The original NRS as written also excluded people with serious criminal convictions, even if they were no longer incarcerated. These changes make the scheme more accessible to both currently incarcerated prisoners and those who have left prison but still carry a serious criminal conviction. 

This isn’t the first change to the NRS – it regularly changes as the focus remains on the survivors. With continued learning, the aim is always to meet the needs of victim-survivors and simplify the process for future applicants, and that often means expanding the scheme to be more inclusive.

Other Changes 

More than one change was made to the NRS, following the second-year review of the scheme. The government passed several legislative measures to make adjustments. 

  • If an applicant requests a review of a now-finalised document, they can submit additional information to bolster their claim. 
  • If an application has been finalised and the relevant institution joins the NRS after the fact, the victim-survivor can request a reassessment of their application.

Amanda Rishworth, the Minister for Social Services said, “The passage of this Bill is a major milestone… to listen to people with experience of the Scheme to make it more survivor-focused and trauma-informed.” She stressed that it wasn’t the end of the work, promising to deliver more effective changes as the government vowed to continue listening to the victim-survivors of institutional child sex abuse.

Contact AJB Stevens For Advice 

Moving on after being subjected to abuse at the hands of people put in a position to protect is never easy, and not everyone has equal opportunities to process their trauma. The purpose of the NRS is to open the door to healing and provide some form of justice where there has been none. Nothing can erase the events, but steps can be taken to help you move forward. 

With many vulnerable prisoners, it’s important to have a reliable ear to hear your case. A lot of prisoners have low literacy levels, which leaves them at risk of further victimisation at the hands of people pressuring applications without an understanding of the details. 

If you have previously applied and the new changes impact you, the NRS will reach out to you or your nominee directly. If you haven’t made an application for redress, now you can. 

At AJB Stevens, we are a team of compassionate and experienced sexual abuse lawyers in Sydney. We can help you determine the next steps for your specific case, whether it’s filing a sexual abuse claim with the NRS or pursuing a civil suit. We are happy to provide you with a free consultation where we will discuss the details of your situation to discuss what comes next.