Tehan says redress is more than just money

Wellbeing: Social Services Minister Dan Tehan says the national redress scheme for victims of child abuse in institutions is aimed primarily at helping their wellbeing.

Wellbeing: Social Services Minister Dan Tehan says the national redress scheme for victims of child abuse in institutions is aimed primarily at helping their wellbeing.

The national redress scheme is only one option for redress for people who were sexually abused as children while in institutions, federal social services minister Dan Tehan says.

Speaking in Warrnmabool, Mr Tehan said those who had suffered child abuse as children in institutions still had the option to take civil litigation against those who had abused them.

But he said many victims had shown a reluctance to undertake civil litigation against their abusers and the national redress scheme gave them the opportunity to get redress without the trauma of civil litigation.

The redress scheme eliminated the uncertainty of civil litigation with participants knowing they would get an outcome, Mr Tehan said.

While some lawyers might claim there were deficiencies in the scheme, they should take into account the best interests of their clients, he said.

The scheme provided victims with a way of getting an apology, which was very important, as well as counselling and financial redress, Mr Tehan said.

The scheme caps the financial compensation paid to individual victims at $150,000. 

Mr Tehan said no amount of money could compensate for the despicable acts done to children and the redress scheme was never seen as a way to financially compensate them.

It had been set up as a way to help the welbeing of victims, he said.

“That is the fundamental reason why the Royal Commission (into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse) recommended it,” Mr Tehan said.

He said the Uniting Church had recently joined the list of institutions willing to be part of the scheme. 

With Western Australia soon to join all other states and territories in the national scheme, more than 90 per cent of victims were set to be covered, Mr Tehan said.

He said there was every indication the bill to establish the scheme would be passed by the Senate and be operational by July 1.

Gary Foster from Maddens Lawyers in Warrnambool said several hundred people from throughout Australia had registered with the firm as interested in making a claim through the redress scheme.

About 100 of those on the register were from the south-west, he said.

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