Limited access to National Redress Scheme is just not fair, says Australian Lawyers Alliance

30th May 2018

“We firmly believe that the only eligibility requirement should relate to having suffered abuse in an institution,” said Dr Andrew Morrison RFD SC, spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance.

“While we welcome the National Redress Scheme and we are pleased to see it receive political support, we believe amendments are required to ensure that all survivors of abuse have fair access to justice.” 

Currently a person with a criminal record may be denied access to the National Redress Scheme. 

“Those whose lives were ruined and led into crime directly or indirectly by the abuse should not be further punished by being discriminated against,” said Dr Morrison. “In relation to drug crimes, for example, the Royal Commission heard evidence from survivors who explained that they were driven to drug and alcohol misuse as a means of blocking out memories of the abuse that they had suffered.

Denying these individuals access to the Scheme is both inappropriate and unjust.”

The Royal Commission found that refugee children and children in immigration detention are at a high risk of suffering abuse. The current Bill proposes excluding children who were sexually abused in immigration detention and those with particular visa status at the time of their abuse.

“It is only fair that anyone abused in such circumstances has access to redress under the Scheme,” said Dr Morrison. “There are several institutional factors that might enable child sexual abuse in immigration detention. 

“As with any institutional abuse, it is the power of the institution over the individual that has created the opportunity for abuse of these children. It is absolutely unjust to restrict access to the scheme for these children.”

Tags: Access to justice Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse