National Redress Scheme For Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Bill 2018 (No. 28)

September 19, 2018

[12.30 p.m.]

Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, I agree with the previous two speakers.  Child sexual abuse is abhorrent, whoever commits the abuse.  This is particularly so for these vulnerable children in institutions.  Obviously the National Redress Scheme is a key recommendation of the royal commission.  I agree with the member for Murchison:  it is disappointing more of the recommendations were not taken up.  However, I will certainly support this bill.  It is very pleasing to see there is something in place and it will certainly help.

 

In December last year, the royal commission released 409 recommendations, which will impact many areas of institutional regulation and practice.  The final report recommendations aim to prevent abuse - or, at the very least, to identify it as early as possible; improve the way perpetrators are investigated, prosecuted and sentenced; and improve survivors' access to justice and ongoing support.  As other members have said, it is important for people who have survived.  We all know someone.  I know a couple of people in their 60s; one has coped better than the other.  They both gave evidence to the royal commission.  Meeting one, you would not know they had been abused; meeting the other person - it is almost the first thing he tells you.  Even if you have never met him before, he goes into the circumstance of abuse at the hands of a priest.  There are very different circumstances.

 

The member for Murchison mentioned how it can affect people differently.  This is certainly a good move.  Obviously, more could have been done, but I appreciate it comes down to money.  What does not come down to money?  Money may not solve the problem.  The bill allows both the state and non-government institutions to formally participate in the national scheme.  While we can never undo the suffering experienced by so many, it certainly is a start.

 

It has been addressed by the Government, and Labor possibly mentioned it in the other House, that people abused as children were more likely to commit offences as adults in the general population.  The exclusion of criminals from seeking redress under the scheme was not one of the royal commission's recommendations regarding institutional child sexual abuse.  It is conflicting - people who have been abused are more likely to commit crimes, yet they are excluded.  The Attorney-General has said abuse victims who did have serious criminal convictions would still be able to apply and would be considered on a case-by-case basis with additional assessment processes.  It is conflicting and unfortunate that people who are abused are more likely to commit crimes and may not necessarily be likely to get compensation.  Being assessed, they may not be accepted.

 

I have covered most of the things I wanted to cover.  They have been covered certainly by the member for Murchison and the member for Hobart.  I support the bill.

 

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