In a groundbreaking move, Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has asked every state and territory in the country to compensate victims of child sexual abuse – and the Catholic Church must pay up, too.
The scheme was one of the central recommendations made by the Royal Commission investigation into tens of thousands of children sexually abused between 1960 and 2015 in Australian institutions.
The scheme is not compulsory though, which means that organisations like the Catholic Church, which is considered to be largely responsible for non recent child sexual abuse in Australia, will not be required to sign up. The inquiry found that 7% of all priests between 1960 and 2015 had allegedly abused children.
New South Wales and Victoria, two of the country’s most populated states, will start paying survivors of abuse up to 150,000 Australian dollars (£84,719) from July, 2018. This means that every institution within these states is now able to join the scheme, including churches. Politician and Australian Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews is urging parishioners to pressure their churches into signing up to the scheme.
It’s claimed that as of 2016, the Vatican has already paid almost $4 billion US dollars in compensation to victims of child sexual abuse, since 1950.
The announcement covers 9,000 people abused in New South Wales government institutions and 5,000 people abused in Victoria. The deal caps payments at 150,000 dollars for each person (£84,719), which is lower than the 200,000 (£112,958) maximum payment recommended by the commission.
Closer to home, we have no nationwide redress scheme in place, however some councils are now offering compensation to survivors of abuse. Lambeth Council has just launched its own redress scheme, with payments capped at £10,000.
We wrote to Lambeth Council to ask them a question about their redress scheme on 26th February, but have not yet heard back. This was our email to the council:
Dear Lambeth Council,
The scheme only covers Lambeth Children’s Homes and/or Shirley Oaks Primary School within the borough, and some foster care placements.
At present there is no redress scheme in the UK inviting councils and organisations to sign up and pay out. This may though, become one of the key recommendations our own independent inquiry into child sexual abuse makes, once it has completed its investigations.