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Monday, 18 June 2018
Page: 3143


Senator BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (18:01): I too rise to address the bills before the Senate, including the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Bill 2018, which is to establish the National Redress Scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. I thank Senator Griff for his contribution. It is very important that we move swiftly on these bills and, as such, I will just make a very brief contribution this evening—but that is not to understate the importance of these bills.

The government obviously firmly believes in the introduction of the National Redress Scheme. This is a vital step in recognising the impact of past child sexual abuse. It's a shame that the vulnerable in society have had to suffer in this way. It was a betrayal of trust and it should not have happened. I do commend, however, the significant work that has been done by, in the first instance, those who have gone through the trauma of sexual and other kinds of abuse, those who've told their stories to the royal commission and those who've participated in and worked with the royal commission in its process. Dan Tehan, the current minister responsible for carriage of this bill, has done a power of work in making sure that the process that was started under this government is seen through to a successful conclusion.

I also want to commend the work of state and territory governments and institutions in negotiating and developing a framework that will now see a national redress scheme in existence. We hope that through this process of redress governments and institutions will have the opportunity to take responsibility for how this abuse happened and allow the healing process to begin.

I just want to address a couple of aspects of the elements of redress, particularly the monetary compensation side of things. There's been a lot of discussion of the figure of $200,000 versus $150,000, which I think has been very counterproductive. I think the payments involved, whilst important, are not necessarily the central feature of redress. We must also remember that the maximum payment is merely a single number. The average anticipated payment of $76,000 is actually $11,000 more than the average payment originally proposed by the royal commission. I think that's a very important point to recognise. The second point is on the access to counselling and psychological care not just for survivors but also for affected family members and, where appropriate, the provision of a direct personal response from the responsible institution. These two points are very important.

The scheme and the bill were developed through a wide range of consultation with a very wide range of stakeholders, including consideration by the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee, which I chair. We hope that this does go some way towards providing survivors with a sense of justice and the necessary support in the restorative process going forward.

Obviously, as Chair of the Community Affairs Legislation Committee, I have had the opportunity to meet with and listen to the testimony of many. Their stories are heart wrenching, and they have also demonstrated enormous reserves of strength and courage. It is time that we acknowledge the injustices of the past and provide these courageous people with the recognition they deserve. I commend this bill to the Senate, and I look forward to it being passed in advance of the 1 July commencement date.