Recalcitrant states – rather than the churches – are looming as the biggest roadblock to the Commonwealth’s $4 billion sexual abuse redress scheme. Source: The Australian.
As the broad Catholic sector moves to opt in, the Turnbull Government will use a state and territory ministers’ meeting on April 30 to urge Western Australia and Queensland to join the national victim compensation scheme.
With NSW expected soon to introduce enabling legislation, followed by Victoria, pressure will intensify on the holdout states of WA and Queensland to opt in to the scheme or risk pressure from sexual abuse survivors and Canberra.
A spokeswoman for WA Attorney-General John Quigley said the government would continue to negotiate in good faith with Canberra. The state previously had accused Canberra of failing to produce enough information.
The Queensland government also has been slow to flag its support for the scheme, with institutions needing state legislation in order to opt in.
The Catholic Church is working behind the scenes to opt in to the national scheme, although the efforts are being complicated by the failure of all states to move quickly to pass legislation.
The Turnbull government wants the redress scheme, which will offer payments of up to $150,000, to be operating this year but there will be a race to ensure that the required laws are passed in time.
The Australian understands the Catholic Church is broadly behind opting in, however, the mechanism for how it joins and when is still being determined in many cases.
One option is for every branch of the Church to join separately – which potentially could be hundreds of organisations – or to join as so-called “super groups’’.
This could mean, for example, every diocese from a state or a number of different orders joining at the same time as a single group.
Catholic officials were angered when senior commonwealth ministers attacked their response to the redress scheme as being too slow. Officials said relations had improved since Social Services minister Dan Tehan had become involved in the negotiations with the churches.
WA and Queensland delay the child sex-abuse redress scheme (The Australian)
Archbishop Julian renews call for redress scheme for victims of abuse (Hobart Archdiocese)