Undercompensation fund not the answer for victims of abuse

13th Feb 2014

The Australian Lawyers Alliance notes the calls from the Roman Catholic Church and other churches for a national compensation fund in response to the ongoing suffering of victims of institutional abuse.

“Bitter experience with schemes such as NSW Victims Compensation Scheme suggests that any scheme would inevitably be underfunded and unable to fully compensate victims,” said Australian Lawyers Alliance spokesperson, Dr Andrew Morrison SC.

“Bureaucratic schemes are inevitably slow, lack transparency and have restricted ability to compensate. Such a scheme would require government support which is a problem in times of financial stringency.”

“The real motive of churches in recommending a national scheme is potentially to reduce their liability and save money at the expense of victims.”

“The real solution is not to set up a national undercompensation scheme, but to give access to all victims to the courts.”

“This means that the Roman Catholic Church needs to give an undertaking not to plead the Ellis defence, but to accept (as in England) that its trustees in each diocese are its secular arm and the assets they hold are available to compensate victims.”

“It means accepting that the church is responsible for the criminal actions of its priests when those actions are connected with the church. It means that the limitation barrier in all jurisdictions needs to be lifted for victims so that churches cannot prevent those they accept were brutally treated, from recovering compensation.”

“This accords with the recommendations of the Victorian Legislative Council Committee Inquiry in 2013, and is the real solution to the problem.”

“An underfunded national scheme which is years off is merely a convenient way of avoiding proper compensation and should not be tolerated.”

Tags: Compensation Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse