The two year review conducted by Ms Robyn Kurk AO found that the Scheme is not fulfilling the trauma informed objectives designed to assist survivors – citing its bureaucratic slowness, inconsistent and non-transparent decision making, and impersonal and insufficient communications as being the main inhibitors.
In accepting 25 of the 38 recommendations handed down and committing $80 billion to the Scheme over the next four years, the Federal Government signalled its acceptance of the Scheme’s operational shortcomings.
Amongst others, the Government accepted the recommendations to:
- Allow survivors to provide formal input to the Scheme’s operation.
- Provide all survivors with end-to-end support by experienced, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed professionals.
- Simplify the application form and ensure that more assertive outreach support is available to facilitate access to disadvantaged applicants and to assist to obtain better outcomes.
- Improve internal policy in enhancing clear and consistent decision-making.
- To provide $10,000.00 in interim redress to those with terminal illnesses, those born before 1944 or those identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders born before 1964.
The government committed to all recommendations but for those that represent a significant departure from the premise of agreement on which institutions agreed to participate.
Interestingly, this was also the basis upon which Ms Kurk AO did not support a recommendation to increase the redress cap from $150,000.00 to $200,000.00.
In taking a wider stance on the financial viability of the Scheme, the recommendations noted but not accepted by the Government are:
- That the “reasonable likelihood’ standard of proof be applied to decisions make under the Assessment Framework relating to the classification of abuse.
- That the Assessment Framework be amended to remove “penetrative abuse” as the most severe.
- That the indexation of relevant prior payments be removed
Mr Kurk noted that the ‘Scheme processes need a fundamental reset at this point if it is to be a viable avenue that survivors are prepared to use in line with the vision of the federated partnership and the Royal Commission.’
The limited future of the Scheme, which is legislated to conclude on its tenth anniversary in 1 July 2028, will therefore depend entirely on how quickly the Government can implement the accepted recommendations.