Australia's national compensation plan for child sex abuse victims begins

St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. Credit: Neil Willsey via Flickr (C BY-SA 2.0).
St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. Credit: Neil Willsey via Flickr (C BY-SA 2.0).

.- On Sunday Australia launched a program to compensate the victims of institutional child sex abuse.

“The development of the National Redress Scheme was one of the key recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse and was supported by the Catholic Church in Australia (which was the first non-government entity to join the scheme) and many survivor groups,” read a statement from the Archdiocese of Sydney.

The scheme runs ten years, from July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2027.

The Australian bishops announced May 30 they would be joining the plan.

“Survivors deserve justice and healing and many have bravely come forward to tell their stories,” said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane.

Sister Ruth Durick, OSU, president of Catholic Religious Australia, said that while monetary restitution is not enough to take away survivors’ pain, but they hope it will provide “practical assistance on the journey towards recovery from abuse.”

She also stressed a commitment “to providing redress to survivors who were abused within the Catholic Church.”

The National Redress Scheme will provide an estimated AUD 4 billion ($2.9 billion) to approximately 60,000 Australians. Compensation per victim has been capped at AUD 150,000 ($110,000), and average payments are expected to be about AUD 67,000 ($49,000).

Victims who apply for compensation under the plan waive their right to sue.

Australian Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said the Catholic Church's participation in the plan is “incredibly significant” and demonstrates it is “prepared to take responsibility and it shows they want to offer redress to those survivors.”

Archbishop Anthony Fisher of Sydney said that in joining the redress scheme, the Church expects “to be paying out for survivors for many years to come” and the bishops “stand ready to do that. We are going to back that [with] our insurance and our assets,” reports ABC News.

“We are determined to bring justice and full redress, healing if we can, to the victims of this terrible crime.”

A report from the Australian Royal Commission released Dec. 15, 2017, found serious failings in the protection of children from abuse in the Catholic Church and other major secular and religious institutions.

Tags: Church in Australia, Clerical sex abuse