The Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM, Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has launched a consultation paper on redress and civil litigation in Sydney today.
Justice McClellan said the Royal Commission’s terms of reference require it to make recommendations in relation to ensuring justice for victims through the provision of redress by institutions.
“Many institutions have acknowledged that their previous response to survivors has been inadequate,” Justice McClellan said.
“Many survivors have a pressing need for assistance, including effective and just redress. For these reasons, the Commissioners accepted that we should consider the issue of redress and make final recommendations in relation to it as soon as possible.
“The consultation paper suggests that effective redress must have three elements – personal response by the institution to the survivor, guaranteed funding when needed for counselling and psychological care and a money sum which is paid in recognition of the wrong done to the individual.”
The consultation paper sets out options for the formation and ongoing management of a redress scheme.
“Many people prefer a single national scheme administered by the Australian Government. Institutions would contribute to the funding of the scheme in accordance with their responsibility to individual survivors and in addition would meet their relative proportion of the costs of the scheme’s administration,” Justice McClellan said.
“An alternative considered in the paper is to provide individual State and Territory based schemes which adopt and are administered in accordance with common national principles.
The Royal Commission engaged Finity Consulting Pty Ltd to conducted detailed modelling on the possible costs of redress.
“The consultation paper includes the modelling that assumes 65,000 eligible survivors and average payments of $65,000. Based on these assumptions, the total cost of redress nationally would be in the order of $4.378 billion,” Justice McClellan said.
“The cost of redress would be spread over a number of years. The actuarial model over ten years suggests, on these assumptions, the maximum cost in any one year is likely to be in the order of $650 million nationally. This would be funded by contributions from both governments and institutions.
“There are many considerations relevant to the appropriate money sum, including fairness and affordability. The consultation paper considers various options with a cap of $100,000, $150,000 or $200,000. These are used to assist an understanding of the situation. Of course, other options may be appropriate.
“I stress that no one should assume the Commissioners have a final view on any issue. We are seeking submissions which will help us to establish our views and provide recommendations which are just, practical and affordable,” Justice McClellan said.
Justice McClellan also outlined the Commission’s plans for 2015 including public hearings and private sessions in regional locations.
“The Commissioners have throughout our work been conscious of the need to engage with people in regional areas,” Justice McClellan said.
“We have now conducted private sessions in the regional centres of Rockhampton, Woorabinda, Launceston, Cairns, the Kimberley, Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo and Coffs Harbour.
“In first half of 2015, we have programmed private sessions, including some return visits, in the regional centres of Lismore, Newcastle, Townsville, Launceston, Cairns, Warrnambool, Shepparton and the Tiwi Islands.
The Royal Commission will also hold a regional public hearing into St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol, Rockhampton in April and in May, will travel to Ballarat, a regional centre with a deeply disturbing history of institutional child sexual abuse.
The consultation paper on redress and civil litigation is designed to seek widespread community input before the Commissioners release a final report on the issue, with recommendations, in mid-2015.
All interested parties are encouraged to make written submissions responding to this consultation paper by midday on Monday 2 March 2015, preferably electronically to redress [at] childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au.
Read the consultation paper.
Watch the video of Justice McClellan’s statement.