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Community Affairs Legislation Committee
16/02/2018
Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2017 Commonwealth Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017

GLASSON, Mr Mark, Director, Services, AnglicareWA

JENKINS, Ms Linda, Manager, South East Metro Services, AnglicareWA

LOVE, Mr Ron, Chairperson, Forgotten Australians Coming Together (FACT), Tuart Place

WHITE, Dr Philippa, Director, Tuart Place

E vidence from Mr Glasson and Ms Jenkins w as taken via teleconference—

[10:49]

CHAIR: Welcome. Could you please confirm that information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you?

Mr Glasson : It has.

Ms Jenkins : Yes.

Dr White : Yes.

CHAIR: I now invite you to make a short opening statement and, at the conclusion of your remarks, I'll invite members of the committee to put questions to you.

Dr White : We'll be making a combined statement for Tuart Place. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with the committee. Clearly, we all want a redress scheme based on fairness, equity and justice. We welcome your inquiry as a further step in transferring these values into a good system of redress for survivors of institutional child abuse. Our shared goal won't be easy to achieve. It's particularly important to hear many different points of view, and thanks for facilitating this.

Ron and I will focus today on redress as it relates, especially, to care leavers—people whose childhood abuse occurred while they were living in closed residential settings under the care of state welfare systems. This group of people comprised nearly 44 per cent of witnesses at the royal commission, so they're a major group of potential applicants for a redress scheme. As we know from previous inquiries, children in state care often suffered multiple forms of abuse and neglect, and the outcome is a population of adults with more than their fair share of problems, like poor literacy, social disadvantage, offending behaviours, mental illness and poverty.

What do we think is likely to happen when an authority such as the federal government announces a redress scheme with a top payment of $150,000, especially when the media prominently reports it over a period of time? It's not hard to imagine, is it? The most abused and most damaged survivors start to think they're going to receive $150,000 in July, this year. Ron and I see this every day we're at Tuart Place, because our organisation's contact with care leavers and our governance by care leavers, including Ron's role as chairman of the board, gives us a ground-level view of the impact.

The announcement of a redress scheme has certainly raised expectations. I'll mention just two of many recent examples. One was last week, when we received a call from a former Redress WA client, who had suffered terrible sexual abuse as a child at Wandering Mission. She was phoning in to give us her new bank deposit details so she could receive her payment under the Commonwealth scheme. She would not or could not accept that there is no redress scheme for her at the moment. Another caller asked to speak to our head office, because, clearly, we hadn't heard about the new redress scheme starting in July this year. There is a redress scheme starting in July, but it's currently funded for less than two per cent of the potential applicants. This fine print message isn't getting through. It's a serious problem, and we'd like to talk about how to deal with it later.

Ron and I would also like to talk about the two other issues raised in our submission. The first of these is the exclusion of some offenders from the Commonwealth scheme. This is, of course, a broader social justice and human rights issue affecting both care leavers and non-care leavers. It's heartening to see that so many other submissions have spoken out against the proposed double punishment of people who have already done their time. The second issue, the exclusion of non-sexual forms of abuse and neglect from the scheme highlights the very different circumstances of care leavers and non-care leavers, and it's a real problem for care leavers.

As found by the forgotten Australians and lost innocents Senate inquiries, for many children living in closed residential settings under state welfare systems, sexual abuse was sometimes the least of their worries. Their situation was totally different to that of a child living at home with his or her parents, who suffered sexual abuse at a sporting club or dance academy. We are in no way minimising their experiences. What we're saying is that they are very different to that of a child abused and neglected in state care, where there was no escape from the daily trauma.

Professor Kathleen Daly describes this as the elephant in the room. She says:

But the elephant in the room—a profound problem few have recognised—is that Australia’s proposed scheme has two different claimant groups: those who were abused in care, and those who were abused in non-care settings.

No other redress scheme in the world has combined care leavers and non-care leavers—and for good reason: care leavers would miss out. It's illogical to combine the two groups.

Evidence of this is in the royal commission's research on Towards Healing, which found a large disparity in the payments received by claimants. Care leavers received much lower payments than non-care leavers, despite having generally experienced more-severe abuse. The average figures were $30,000 for care leavers and between $50,000 and $55,000 for non-care leavers—a huge disparity—despite their having experienced worst abuse. The group differences matter in financial terms and they matter in terms of justice and equity. The very different circumstances of care leavers and non-care leavers and the impact of previous redress processes need to be accounted for in any future scheme.

Ron and I would like to talk more about this while we're here. We would like to talk about what happened in Western Australia with Redress WA, because that is relevant to the consideration of a national scheme. We're happy to answer any questions you have.

CHAIR: Thank you very much. Ms Jenkins or Mr Glasson, did either of you want to make an opening statement?

Mr Glasson : Yes, thank you. Anglicare WA supports the establishment of the Commonwealth redress scheme. We also strongly encourage the involvement of the West Australian government and institutions in the scheme. We've been a provider or royal commission support services for more than four years now and in that time we've seen 345 separate individuals and provided support to them. We have seen people in prisons, 15 per cent of the people we have seen have been in prison, and we estimate that another 10 per cent of that 345 have been in prison at some time in their life. This has implications for the requirements regarding criminal histories, as previously mentioned. We also have seen people on the streets and in retirement homes. Fifty per cent of the clients we have seen have been Aboriginal people.

We recognise that the Commonwealth redress scheme is an opportunity for all institutions and governments to acknowledge to all survivors of abuse the errors of the past. We oppose any exclusion of victims of child sexual abuse. We are particularly concerned for processes in remote and regional parts of Australia, where there are specific issues: the slowness of mail to and from those community; how long it takes to reach them; the degree of daily trauma and distress in those communities, which often prevents people from being aware; the shortage of and difficulty of access to skilled workers in remote areas; the absence of legal advice; and the capacity for confidentiality for lawyers and counsellors in communities can be extremely limited.

We are particularly concerned that the mistakes of the West Australian redress scheme aren't repeated and there are lessons we believe the Commonwealth should learn in this scheme. The first is managing the expectations, which Dr White already talked about, and managing the expectations of the claimants. We need to be very clear about the conditions of the scheme: that child sexual abuse is a requirement to apply; that there are counselling and psychological services available as well; and it's really important that information around the assessment metric is made available. We would argue that every element of the scheme needs to be trauma informed. Applicants should not be required to tell their stories repeatedly through the process of the helpline, the application form, counselling and care. It must be taken with the wording and appearance of formal notification of approval and acceptance. We agree that advertising should be clear and specific and make use of every possible medium and all avenues of word-of-mouth, especially to reach potential remote and regional applicants.

Our workers have learnt, particularly when working with Aboriginal clients, that counselling cannot be separated from therapeutic case management, and often case management is a necessary precursor to effective counselling. The majority of the people that we have seen we have seen for between one and three sessions. But we have seen people for many, many, many more sessions than that. The average number of sessions for people we have seen has been eight. The highest is over 100. Our argument is that just the provision of counselling alone will not meet the needs of these people.

CHAIR: Dr White, can you explain the disparity between the amount of monetary support available to care leavers and non-care leavers? Where does that come from?

Dr White : Through the Towards Healing program?

CHAIR: Yes.

Dr White : The statistics that I quoted?

CHAIR: Yes. Why are the care leaver amounts so much less?

Dr White : That is a very good question. It appears—and Professor Kathleen Daly argues this—that the experience of care leavers is devalued because they are considered second-class citizens in terms of redress. Because they experienced so much harm, sexual abuse is only a considered part of that. So, if you harm a child who's already in care, they don't notice it as much. There is no logical rational explanation for why care leavers get less than non-care leavers. I think if you look at the high profile cases that had a lot to do with the introduction of the royal commission, that gives some clues. You have people who were abused in parish settings and private schools and ran civil litigation, making large claims against the Catholic Church, and were treated badly. Because they were private citizens and not children in care they attracted a different kind of attention. It's difficult to explain, but the figures are really clear. There is a huge disparity: $30,000 for care leavers and between $50,000 and $55,000 for non-care leavers. They are the figures that Finity Consulting came up with for the royal commission in an analysis of Towards Healing. So, it is a really good question: why did care leavers get less?

Senator PRATT: I want to follow up on your question, Chair. Were there any differences, as far as you could tell, in terms of the support people had in quality applications or in literacy levels that might have affected the redress amount. Clearly, that is also an act of discounting a care leaver's experience and reinforces your earlier point. But we've really got to try to work out how to fix problems like that in this scheme, noting it is only sexual abuse that is compensated. But we need to make sure that that experience is not discounted relative to other victims within the process.

Dr White : Yes. We would certainly agree with that.

Senator PRATT: The question is one of how we do that. What factors do we need to mitigate against?

Dr White : With the Towards Healing figures, every person going through Towards Healing would have had a contact report prepared by a contact worker working with a professional standards organisation. So, there wouldn't be a large difference in their applications. In the Redress WA scheme people who didn't get assistance to prepare their applications generally fared much worse in terms of the amounts that they were awarded. It just intuitively makes sense. So, some of the worst-damaged people, who felt too ashamed or too embarrassed to speak to someone, filled out their own forms and tended to miss out. I agree that it is really important that that does not happen again.

Senator HINCH: Dr White, I don't want to be the ogre here. I hear the pain from what you are talking about. But the submission says that the scheme should cover non-sexual abuse and drama experienced by children in welfare residential settings while in the care of the state.

Dr White : That's right.

Senator HINCH: It doesn't, it can't and it won't.

Dr White : Well, it should.

Senator HINCH: Yes, maybe it should. That's a different issue. We can't canvas this here because what this committee is trying to do—I'm only participating as an observer because I run the other committee—is try to work out what the law will eventually say. But the law is going to be based on what happened after the royal commission into institutional sexual abuse of children.

Dr White : But, Senator Hinch, the royal commission didn't say that the Commonwealth couldn't implement a scheme that included other forms of child abuse. In fact, it said that was a matter for the states and the government. It didn't preclude that. It just said, within its terms of reference, it could only recommend a scheme for sexual abuse because it had those narrow terms of reference. It didn't say the government couldn't implement a scheme that encompassed other types of abuse.

Senator HINCH: I hope you're right and I'm wrong. I would like to see it do what you say but the way I read it is that my constrictions are that we can only rule on whatever the committee decides is law to handle sexual abuse of children in institutions. The other stuff we heard from forgotten Australians, from Ms Carroll and Mr Kaspiev. I encourage you but I don't know where we go with this. You are telling me that we can.

Senator SIEWERT: This committee can recommend what it likes.

Dr White : Just as other elements of the bill can be addressed, surely, that one can as well. It's really fundamental. There's a provision in the matrix proposed by the royal commission to add a loading of 20 per cent if a child was in care and there were aggravating factors. That doesn't go far enough. It doesn't account for the very different experiences of a child who has been removed from its parents, generally under traumatic circumstances, is living in a closed institutional setting, under a state welfare system, under the care of the state. That child's experiences are enormously different to a child living at home with his or her parents who is abused at a local institution, at a sporting club. They are an entirely different set of circumstances. And no other redress scheme in the world has attempted to conflate those two sets of experiences. It's a bad idea.

Senator HINCH: What's your reaction to the idea that abuse victims have who have then become criminals and who have served large sentences, should be excluded from the scheme?

Mr Love : I believe that the people were groomed, formed. They learned to do what they do in the institutions. And the institutions are to blame for whatever the person has come out with in their life. Some, when they have left the institution, have left with nothing, maybe not even an identification so it's very difficult to get a job. They steal to keep alive, to survive. They turn to drugs, alcohol and other means to drown the sorrows and the heartache and the mental anguish, the traumas that punish them for the rest of their life. I have forgotten the question now.

Senator HINCH: It was about excluding offenders.

Mr Love : Yes. Again, I think it's been said before, this is a double indemnity. People are again chastised, abused repeatedly because they were abused in institutions and then they were abused because of what they had learned and carried out in the outside world after being in the institutions. Then, after being incarcerated, they now miss out on the redress because they have learned this way of life and haven't got out of that way.

CHAIR: We'll go to Senator Lines.

Senator LINES: Our job here today is to write a report around the current bill. My questions are related to the bill, because we want information from you, as service providers, about the impact of the proposed legislation. Have you been briefed or has the Commonwealth engaged with you about the scheme?

Dr White : No.

Senator LINES: Does your organisation have insights as to how many survivors are likely to seek redress?

Dr White : In Western Australia, nearly 6,000 people applied for the Redress WA scheme. Redress WA was a gold standard scheme when it started—

Senator LINES: Yes, I'm aware of that.

Dr White : and it encompassed all types of abuse and neglect. I guess that's a rough indicator of how many people might apply. Of course, not everyone who applied for Redress WA had been sexually abused.

Senator LINES: Would you be able to tell us how many are likely to go down a path of civil litigation?

Dr White : Again, that's an unknown factor. That legislation is on the eve of being introduced. For people who are elderly, unwell, poor or traumatised, a process of civil litigation isn't a realistic prospect.

Senator LINES: To Anglicare: firstly, have you been briefed by the Commonwealth? Have they engaged with you?

Mr Glasson : No.

Senator LINES: Do you know how many survivors are likely to seek redress?

Mr Glasson : Dr White has already provided the information on Redress WA. What we would add is that one of our issues is the information dissemination needs to be well coordinated. What happened with Redress WA was that a lot of people didn't hear about it, even though it went for a considerable period of time. A lot of people didn't hear about it until it was too late. There is an under-level of people who didn't apply for Redress WA who we believe will be eligible under this scheme.

Senator LINES: So, with better communication, you think the number would be higher than 6,000?

Mr Glasson : Yes, I would believe so.

Senator LINES: Do you have a view about how many people are likely to go down the civil litigation path?

Mr Glasson : No, we don't have a view. It would be a guess.

Senator LINES: To both of you: are you aware of any survivors who have commenced civil litigation?

Dr White : No. The laws haven't been passed yet.

Senator LINES: What advice are both organisations currently providing to survivors?

Dr White : In terms of advice about redress?

Senator LINES: Yes.

Dr White : We're letting people know that, at the moment, there isn't a redress scheme in operation. That's a really hard message to get across.

Ms Jenkins : Currently, we're also advising anybody in contact with our royal commission support service that, while legislation is being considered for a redress scheme, it's up to the states to opt in. As of yet, there's been no clear decision made on that, so they're still waiting.

Senator LINES: To both organisations: do you believe the proposed lump sum payment of $5,000 for therapeutic counselling would be adequate for survivors?

Mr Glasson : We believe that would be very inadequate—significantly short of what would be required.

Ms Jenkins : Can I just add that many of the survivors experience comorbid symptoms and have complex diagnosis needs in terms of PTSD and other psychological, or even psychiatric, conditions. The current cost of accessing adequate referrals and support for these people would mean that $5,000 would barely touch the surface.

Senator LINES: Dr White, you answered the question about people convicted of offences. But Anglicare, did you answer that? If your view is the same as Dr White's, it is fine to say so.

Mr Glasson : Our view is that the scheme should be available to all victims of abuse. We've actually worked with one client which is a good illustration of the problem. He's 68 years old and married with adult children. His criminal offending ceased when he was aged 30 but it was significant and, under the current proposals, he would be ineligible. But for the last 38 years he's lived a law-abiding life and he's largely dealt with the issues that drove him to his offending. To exclude that man would be totally unreasonable.

Senator LINES: In both of your submissions, both Anglicare and Tuart Place, you refer to the disappointments arising out of Redress WA. Are you concerned that the current bill risks a repeat of the same disadvantages?

Dr White : One of the major problems with Redress WA was that after all of the applicants had submitted their applications, after they had gone through that extremely painful process, the payment levels were cut in half.

Senator LINES: So are you concerned that there will be the same problem with this bill?

Dr White : It is a different scenario if people enter into a process when they know at the outset what they are getting themselves into. That would be a huge head start. I would recommend to any redress scheme that they don't halve the payments halfway through.

Senator LINES: But people have a clear idea—

Dr White : Yes, as much information as possible, including the basics of how assessments will be conducted. So the assessment matrix is a key part of the legislation.

Senator LINES: Anglicare, do you have a different view?

Ms Jenkins : No, we would agree with that statement. However, I think it's also important to note that one of the effects of halving or reducing the amount of payments after it had been announced was that this further compounded the trauma for victims, who then perceived that their suffering was not significant and that that had been indicated by that gesture of halving the payment. So, once again, it's really important that, whatever the advertised rate, it is continued and followed through with.

Senator LINES: Yes. What needs to change in the current Commonwealth bill to ensure all survivors in Western Australia are able to access justice?

Mr Glasson : On the provisions in section 69 around timeliness for accepting or rejecting submissions, 14 days would be entirely insufficient for people in remote areas of Western Australia to participate in the scheme. Often it will take that long for a letter to get there, and sometimes it will take quite a lot longer than that. There are a couple of things we would recommend to make the scheme work better. One is that we need to find some way of having advocates working for applicants. Some of the people who would be eligible in remote communities are transient, and just the issues of contact make it very difficult for them.

Senator LINES: So the timeliness needs to change?

Mr Glasson : The timeliness needs to change and the potential for representation for those people needs to change. Literacy is an issue that we've already talked about. There's also an issue around English being the second or third language for some of these people. Correspondence coming from Sydney or Melbourne might not even get to them. If it did, it is highly unlikely it will get any traction.

Senator LINES: There are three WA senators here, so we understand that.

Mr Glasson : Okay, I'm sorry.

Senator LINES: That's okay. We are talking about timeliness and the need to be represented. Dr White, do you want to add anything?

Dr White : Yes. We would support what others have said about the three-month period to accept a payment: it is too short; it should be 12 months at least. Information should be provided about how applications are going to be assessed. People who are overseas should be able to apply. If the person was in care then all types of abuse and neglect should be considered. And, of course, offenders should be able to apply.

Senator LINES: Yes, of course. Dr White, you touched on this, and we heard this morning from Yorgum, who made the same comments. You've written that some survivors in WA are making financial commitments on the expectation of a payment from the Commonwealth redress scheme.

Dr White : Yes.

Senator LINES: So you're getting people who don't fit the criteria thinking they're getting money, because you've talked about that before, and then you're getting others who would fit the criteria?

Dr White : Yes, both—so people who would fit the criteria but who haven't understood that there isn't a redress scheme at the moment. It's only funded for two per cent of applicants. What they've heard is the repeated media statements that there's a $150,000 payment and it starts in July this year.

Senator LINES: To both organisations, if WA doesn't opt into the scheme, what will be the consequences?

Dr White : Well, people would be let down by the system once again. WA care leavers, or survivors of the Redress WA scheme, are calling for the reinstatement of the original payment levels under Redress WA. They would like the contract they entered into under that scheme to be honoured. They're a particular group. That's not really related to the Commonwealth scheme, yet, of course, there's some overlap. We all want there to be national consistency. We all want there to be fairness.

Senator LINES: It's not rocket science, is it?

Dr White : No.

Senator LINES: Anglicare, did you have a different view or further points you wanted to add?

Mr Glasson : I think the Western Australian government entering into the scheme provides another acknowledgement for these people that their experience was real and wrong. Without that, it leaves victims hanging.

Senator LINES: Thank you. I think you've both commented on the maximum payment not being adequate. I don't have any further questions.

Senator SIEWERT: I want to go to your submission. I know we've talked about the five-year sentencing issue and the scheme not being open to everybody. In your submission, you make reference to international evidence that you've had a look at. I'm just wondering if you can expand a little bit on some of the points that you make, because you say that there's been no other scheme other than one in the UK.

Dr White : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: If I understand correctly, that wasn't quite a redress scheme, but that's the only scheme you can find where people have been excluded.

Dr White : Yes. We are part of an international network of people who work in the area of redress and who research redress and inquiries, and so we put to this group the question in very neutral terms: 'What do you think of this idea of excluding anyone who's committed a sex offence or been imprisoned for five years or more?' The response was overwhelming and unequivocal. Everyone thought that it was a really bad idea, that it was double punishment and that it ignored the connection between the person's own childhood trauma and abuse and their later aberrant behaviours. Dr Stephen Winter of the University of Auckland made an interesting point: that financial redress may be an asset in rehabilitation and it's actually a child protection measure in some ways for people who've been convicted of a child sex offence. One of the most effective ways to prevent an offender reoffending is to assist them to gain insight into the reasons for their offending to make the link between their own childhood trauma and abuse and their later offending. So a redress scheme could be enormously helpful in that regard, and a scheme that just leaves those people out is going to be enormously unhelpful.

Senator SIEWERT: You answered an earlier question saying that you hadn't been consulted so you weren't able to make these points to anybody in terms of the international experience on these issues.

Dr White : That's right. We've not ever been consulted.

Senator SIEWERT: In your recommendations, you make a recommendation:

… that the Commonwealth publicly announces a non-negotiable deadline for 'opt in or opt out' by past providers and that clear, unambiguous information about the implications of the outcome of this process is publicly disseminated to a wide audience.

Can you outline why you think that is a good approach? Also, have you got any ideas around the deadline?

Dr White : As I understand it, the current deadline for states and organisations to opt in is two years after commencement of the scheme, with an option to make that longer. It's just not okay to leave people in limbo for that length of time. If everyone's still hoping that a Commonwealth scheme is going to occur, and it's not, they would be far better off knowing that sooner rather than later so they could take alternative courses of action. It's not alright to keep a traumatised group of people in limbo for years on end. That's why we feel that something needs to happen. There needs to be some firm announcement. Could the Commonwealth cover the payments and seek to recover them from the states? Do they want to honour what they have started? Or do they want to say, 'Alright, you've got until July to opt in and, if you don't, do your own thing'? State based schemes are better than nothing. If that's what we end up with, then that's better than nothing.

Senator SIEWERT: Then we've not got a national scheme.

Dr White : No, we haven't. We're not going to have a national scheme anyway.

Senator SIEWERT: Unless the states and territories and the institutions—

Dr White : One particular state completely changed its mind. It seems very clear that it's not.

Senator SIEWERT: Obviously, we've already discussed the sex offenders and the sentencing over five years issue. I just wanted to go back to this issue about everybody being in—that the scheme should be expanded to include all forms of abuse and neglect experienced by children in institutional settings. Again, you haven't had an opportunity to discuss this with—

Dr White : No, and I would like to clarify that point. I think that, if the abuse took place when the child was in the care of the state, then all types of abuse and neglect should be considered. So, if it was a child living at home with his or her parents and the abuse took place at a local sporting club, then it's probably appropriate to only recognise sexual abuse in that case. However, if it's a child in the care of the state in a closed institutional setting, then it's dismissive of the rest of their experiences to only recognise sexual abuse, and it will set up hierarchies within a group of people who've been encouraged to form a collective identity through the forgotten Australians Senate inquiry and the lost innocents child migrant inquiry. These are a group of people who have been brought together and told, 'You are one.' They're a diverse-needs group for the purposes of aged care. They have a collective identity. Yet now you just want do pick out sexual abuse as being the only relevant type of abuse? What was the forgotten Australians inquiry all about? What was that Senate inquiry for if now only sexual abuse is looked at? It's not appropriate for people who were in care.

Senator SIEWERT: I will ask Anglicare this question too. In your opinion, for the larger majority, in fact, of forgotten Australians, if they're excluded, will it have a retraumatising impact, and/or is knowing that they are excluded already having that impact?

Mr Love : There will be a traumatising effect. There's no doubt about that. People have been traumatised again and again with promises of getting so much and then having it halved. Even in terms of how much people are going to get, some got $5,000, which is basically an insult. Whether you were harmed a great deal for 20 years or you were harmed for six months, the harm's there, and it lasts the rest of your life. It fluctuates down through families—grandchildren and beyond. This is a neverending thing. So the retraumatisation will be there; there's no doubt whatsoever about that.

Senator SIEWERT: Mr Glasson or Ms Jenkins, do you have anything to add to that?

Ms Jenkins : I agree with what the other speakers have said on this matter. I would maybe recommend that the committee has a look at some of the case studies that came out of the royal commission report. Those give a really strong indication of the depth and breadth of experience of some of the survivors. I think the amount of trauma experienced by those people is very difficult to quantify in terms of a figure. But indicating that it could be halved or minimised without really good justification would further traumatise them and almost render some of the evidence they have given and their willingness to participate in this royal commission somehow insignificant. I think it's very important that we consider that.

Dr White : I would just say that in Western Australia we have had a redress scheme for care leavers, where people who had experienced all different types of abuse and neglect were able to apply. So for that already damaged group of people who, arguably, should be compensated from the harm of redress WA, to come in a redress seem that recognises only sexual abuse is to inflict further trauma and harm on those people.

Senator SIEWERT: You've been here since the start, so you will have heard the discussion we had this morning around the workshop that's on today.

Dr White : Yes.

Senator SIEWERT: Have you been invited to that?

Dr White : No.

Senator SIEWERT: Were you aware of it?

Dr White : No. We're never invited.

Senator SIEWERT: Anglicare, were you invited to the workshop today?

Mr Glasson : Yes, we're represented at the workshop.

Senator SIEWERT: Dr White and Mr Love, I know what Tuart Place does and I know the role it plays for many Forgotten Australians. So that people can get an understanding of the role you play—I'm particularly aware of issues around the comments that everyone's been making about the need for ongoing counselling, and some people have told me personally that sometimes it's their only social contact, and they're very reliant—can you describe a little bit about the role that your organisation and other such community organisations that are very strongly embedded in the community play?

Dr White : Yes. Ron is the expert on this and Ron was at the centre of this.

Mr Love : There is a wide variety of people who come in. There are people who have been in and out of home care during childhood. It ranges from the Stolen Generation, people who have been forced adoptees, people who have been fostered out, people who have been in institutions as child migrants—there's probably a few more there.

Dr White : Stolen Generations.

Mr Love : Yes, I started with that.

Dr White : Good.

Mr Love : From very diverse ways of life at the moment, some have found a way to get money in this world and others have not even started on that. There are street people that come in. There are wealthy people that come in, and we join as a group because of our origins. We're accepting of each other, and some people even come in by accident. There was one chap who came in to use the toilet. I said, Kev. How're you going?' I called him by name. He asked, 'How do you know me?' I said, 'I went to school with you 60 years ago.' And, yes, he found a whole new family at Tuart Place. That's what we breed—an extended family of people who are so diverse that I don't know of any other place in the world that's like it. They come in.

We've got over 1500 on the mailing list. On Mondays and general greeting days, there are about 40-odd people that come in. We share lunch, we share stories, we share good times and sing along together. It's a fantastic arrangement for people who have been in out-of-home care during childhood to elevate their life. They talk to people who've made it. They've come to see free counsellors, get free legal aid—anything else they ask for. We've got excursions that are free. A whole lifestyle can be sought and found at Tuart Place because of the people you meet, what is happening at Tuart Place and all the free services—they're all free—to people who've been in out-of-home care during childhood. There are more people coming all the time. I must say, there are a lot of funerals happening as well. It's not all suicides, but there are still people who carry the trauma from a young age right through life. It takes its toll.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you. Well said, Ron.

CHAIR: Senator Watt, did you have any questions?

Senator WATT: No, I've left it to our West Australian senators to cover our issues, thank you.

Senator PRATT: I did have a further question, thank you, Chair, if there's still time.

CHAIR: Yes, absolutely. Go ahead, Senator Pratt. And Senator Hinch also has one question.

Senator PRATT: Mr Glasson and others talked about the impacts for rural and remote Indigenous communities speaking other languages. I wanted to ask more specifically what we could put in the legislation to mitigate against those disadvantages. One would be to return the time line to that recommended by the royal commission. But I'm wondering whether we need to consider appeal rights for mitigating circumstances, or do we need separate time lines for remote communities versus non-remote communities? What, based on the experience of redress in Western Australia, do we need to consider for those issues?

Mr Glasson : I think there are a number of things. I've talked already about advocacy and representation. There's a really strong need. All this is premised on the fact that we've taken account of the time limits issues. There's advocacy and representation. There's legal advice and a need for financial counselling. We need to be really clear about how we advertise the program, where information is available and awareness that those things take a long time to get into remote areas. We think that, unless we absolutely can assure ourselves that people have had access to the information and also have an understanding of what it means, there'll be a lot of people who'll miss out.

CHAIR: Thank you. Senator Pratt, was that all?

Senator PRATT: Yes, thank you.

CHAIR: Great. Final question from Senator Hinch.

Senator HINCH: Thank you very much. This is to Mr Glasson. Mr Glasson, I need your help. I know in your submission you said:

Although this issue is not in the Bill itself, The Hon Christian Porter MP—

who's now the Attorney-General—

did announce that anyone convicted of a child sex offence and those sentenced to prison terms of five years or more for serious crimes would be excluded from the Commonwealth Redress Scheme.

You know and I know—and I've been out to Odyssey House—that a lot of convicted sex offenders have been abused themselves. What's your opinion on all of this and the fact that convicted criminals who've been abused as children should be included in the scheme?

Mr Glasson : Our view is that the scheme should be available to all victims of child sexual abuse. We can spend forever talking about the causality of criminal offending, and that would take, quite frankly, another year or two to cover off. The issue for us is that it is likely that the first instance in that young person's life would have been the trauma of being abused. From our point of view, it's impossible to separate that act, that incident or that abuse from the things that follow. As I said in my introduction, we estimate that 25 per cent of the people that we've seen have had a criminal past. You cannot say definitely that there's no connection between their abuse and their criminal history. Therefore, we revert back to the fact that they were a victim of abuse, and that needs to be acknowledged. It goes back to Dr White's earlier statement about the potential for redress to be a rehabilitative tool. A number of the people that we see were themselves abused in detention, as young people. The whole mix of victim and offender is complicated. Our position would be that, as a victim of abuse, they need to be included.

Senator HINCH: What if the committee recommended that the institution in which they were abused should pay the money, the redress, and not the taxpayer? Is that feasible?

Mr Glasson : I think the critical point is the acknowledgment of the abuse. The compensation, the payment, however small, is one component of it. The ongoing support and the wraparound services that some of these people need is to actually get, I suppose, some healing in their life. They are separate things. Our concern is the acknowledgment. Our concern is less about where the money comes from.

Ms Jenkins : One of the components of the bill also proposes that the victim is able to seek an apology from the institution. That is a really important part of the redress and the opportunity for healing.

Senator HINCH: Dr White, you mention that, if the whole scheme falls apart, the states might end up having to do their own thing, like South Australia is threatening to do. Knowing that elections are coming up in South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria—which I don't want you to comment on—I said last week that I'll go public in three weeks time if they don't sign up. Do you believe a national scheme is a dorothy dixer? Is a national scheme far better than a fractured state scheme?

Dr White : A national scheme that is based on a good model is the optimal outcome. If the Commonwealth can't come up with a model that is not going to retraumatise large sections of people and leave large sections of people out then I would think the states are better off going with their own schemes.

CHAIR: On this issue of people who have served or who are serving significant jail time, there was a suggestion from a previous witness that we look at holding any redress payments in trust, and there have been a few suggestions on how that money should then be used. Do you have any comment on that?

Dr White : I would assume that, if people received a compensation payment and they had victims who had received criminal injuries compensation payments, the state would seek to recover those from the person out of any money they received, including a redress payment. I don't see that it would be quarantined from that. As for prisoners receiving money while they're in jail, I think there are things that prevent that happening. You're not allowed to have access to cash while you're in jail. It would have to be held in some sort of account which they didn't have access to while they were in prison.

CHAIR: Thank you very much to all of our witnesses. We do have to move on.