Aussie abuse inquiry head pushes for victims’ compensation

The Australian government and other bodies should pay towards compensation for victims abused as children in institutions, a royal commission head says.

Justice Peter McClellan said some Australian institutions where children were abused either have no money or no longer exist.

He chairs the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Justice McClellan said the commission would publish a paper in January, 2015, with proposals on compensation.

It will publish final proposals in mid-2015.

He said one of the elements in an effective response to victims “is a lump sum payment, which marks the abuse and recognises the failure of the institution to keep the person safe as a child”.

He said because some institutions had ceased to exist and others had no money, some abuse survivors have no access to compensation.

Justice McClellan said this fell short of the commission’s brief of ensuring justice for all victims.

The Catholic and Anglican churches in Australia have been pushing for a government-run scheme to which they would contribute.

Survivor groups such as Care Leavers Australia Network want an interim scheme immediately as some of its members are very old.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has argued the government should not take charge of the scheme as some homes were government-run and there would be a vested interest to keep payments low.

The alliance wants an independent panel to run the scheme.

Justice McClellan said it was fundamentally important abuse survivors received a meaningful apology and had access to counselling or psychiatric care.

“The answer can only be found in a secure source of funds.

“By some means, funding must be found which ensures that professionals are available to keep people alive and otherwise provide them with the capacity to function effectively,” he said.


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