The Church yesterday began negotiations to join the Turnbull Government’s $4 billion sexual abuse redress scheme, a move that would place intense pressure on the remaining states and other organisations yet to sign up. Source: The Australian.
Social Services Minister Dan Tehan said Church officials had agreed to hold intensive talks in the next three weeks to iron out problems with the draft laws to enable the faith to lead the way among non-government institutions. If the Church opts in before the July 1 start – as expected – it will transform the rollout of the scheme in Australia.
Mr Tehan met Catholic officials in Canberra where the path was laid for the Church to opt into the scheme, which would provide up to $150,000 in redress to proven victims but with a lower burden of proof compared with the courts.
Catholic bishops have agreed to opt into the scheme but officials are attempting to clarify and resolve a series of outstanding concerns to enable the Church to become involved. No firm timeline has yet been agreed.
Church officials only received key documents on the scheme on Friday and are yet to see draft legislation proposed by the Victorian Government.
But with momentum heading towards a deal within weeks or months, smaller institutions and churches will be under enormous pressure to fall into line. There remain real concerns that some entities with high abuse rates could be sent broke by the scheme.
The NSW and Victorian governments decided last Friday to opt into the scheme.
A spokesman for Mr Tehan said there would be intensive talks in the lead up to Easter.
“It was agreed to have ongoing, detailed discussions over the next three weeks with the intention of Catholic Church entities opting in to the national redress scheme,” the spokesman said. “The minister welcomed the constructive way the Catholic Church has engaged on the issue and looks forward to an ongoing dialogue.”
Catholic deal looms for redress payments to sex abuse victims (The Australian)