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ALA slams ‘unfair’ eligibility requirements to redress scheme
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ALA slams ‘unfair’ eligibility requirements to redress scheme

With less than a month away before the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sex Abuse commences, the Australian Lawyers Association has sounded the alarm on some “inappropriate and unjust” requirements needed to access the system.

The National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sex Abuse is due to commence on 1 July, however Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) noted that harsh eligibility requirements will limit access for many.

The current arrangements see people with past criminal convictions or those abused in immigration detention unable to access to redress payments under the National Redress Scheme.

“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 ALA.

“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.”

Speaking specially on the ineligibility of those with a criminal record, Dr Morrison said: “Those whose lives were ruined and led into crime directly or indirectly by the abuse should not be further punished by being discriminated against”.

“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,” he said.

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

The royal commission Dr Morrison mentioned found that refugee children and children in immigration detention are at a high risk of suffering abuse.

Moving on to talk about the ineligibility of those children who were sexually abused in immigration detention and those with particular visa status at the time of their abuse, Dr Morrison said “it is only fair that anyone abused in such circumstances has access to redress under the scheme”.

“There are several institutional factors that might enable child sexual abuse in immigration detention,” he explained.

“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.”

Earlier this week, national compensation and social justice firm Maurice Blackburn welcomed the news that more institutions are joining the redress scheme however it too noted that there is still a long way to go to ensure all victims are covered.

NSW became the first Australian state to enact laws for a National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse early last month, followed by Victoria.

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