Child sexual abuse survivors and advocates say there are continuing problems with the national redress scheme.
Child sexual abuse survivors and advocates say there are continuing problems with the national redress scheme.

Woman tells of abuse redress scheme 'hell'

A 70-year-old woman fears she will die without getting justice for the "horrendous" sexual abuse she suffered while growing up in children's homes.

The Victorian woman is still waiting for a decision on her application to the national redress scheme for people sexually abused as children in Australian institutions, despite being one of the first to apply.

"The redress scheme was meant to be easy. It hasn't been easy," Helen told a federal parliamentary committee on Friday.

"It has been two years of hell."

Helen said her case was deemed to be a priority given her serious heart condition and other health issues caused by being stabbed, yet it continued to drag on.

"I'm going downhill quick," the Ballarat woman said.

"I do want justice before I die."

Helen was abused in a number of institutions, some of which had not yet agreed to join the $3.8 billion redress scheme.

Currently 534 applications are on hold because at least one of the institutions named by those survivors has not signed up.

There are 295 institutions named in applications that are yet to join ahead of a June 30 deadline.

Abuse survivors told the committee examining the scheme's implementation that delays in getting a decision and a lack of information had caused distress and trauma.

One survivor said he thought his application was straightforward, given it involved one institution and the man who abused him was jailed for the crime.

He has so far waited 11 months for a decision.

"I have had to go back to counselling because of the time frame," John told the hearing, conducted by teleconference because of coronavirus concerns.

"A lot of people I know in redress have this problem, where the time frame is actually sending them back to counselling because it has traumatised them again."

There have been 6425 applications for redress since the scheme began operating in July 2018.

So far 1388 payments totalling $112.4 million have been made to survivors, with the average amount being about $81,000.

Institutions have to sign up by June 30 this year, but survivors have until 2027 to apply for redress, counselling and, should they want it, a direct personal response from the responsible organisation.

Originally published as Woman tells of abuse redress scheme "hell"

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.

 


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