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Community Affairs Legislation Committee

GOLDING, Francis (Frank), Private capacity

SHEEDY, Ms Leonie Mary, Chief Executive Officer, Care Leavers Australasia Network

CHAIR: Welcome. Do you have any comments to make on the capacity in which you appear?

Frank Golding : I am appearing as a private person, although I am a vice-president of CLAN. I was asked to make a choice as to which hat I'm wearing.

CHAIR: We're happy to have you with whichever hat on. Would you please confirm that information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you.

Frank Golding : Yes.

Ms Sheedy : Yes.

CHAIR: The committee has your submissions. I invite each of you to make a short opening statement, and at the conclusion of your remarks we will ask you some questions. Before you get started, we have had a request from the media to film. I don't believe they're here yet, but they have requested to film and take photographs of proceedings. The committee has agreed to this. I remind the media that are here that this permission can be revoked at any time, and the media must follow the direction of secretariat staff. If a witness objects to filming, the committee will consider the request. Do you have any objection to any filming?

Frank Golding : No.

Ms Sheedy : No.

CHAIR: Are there any objections in the audience to filming? We will ask the media not to take pictures of the audience. Media are reminded that they are not able to take images of senators' or witnesses' documents or of the audience. Media activity may not occur during suspensions or after the adjournment of proceedings.

Let's get started. Ms Sheedy, would you like to go first?

Ms Sheedy : Frank wants to go first.

Frank Golding : I'm happy to start. I wanted to say—Senator Hinch might pay particular attention to the point you've been raising—that if this legislation proceeds as it's currently constructed, the parliament would be doing a great injustice to a great number of care leavers. I want to raise two matters of deep concern. The first is an unintended consequence of the royal commission is the setup of a hierarchy of suffering. Article 19 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child requires governments to take measures:

… to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

I think the parliament has a duty to consider that position in relation to the bill it is currently examining.

The royal commission could not include other forms of abuse into its report on redress because it had no mandate in its letters patent. For five years, the royal commission and the nation's media rammed home an unintended message to countless thousands of care leavers, that if they were only cruelly physically assaulted, emotionally abused, put into solitary confinement on a regular basis, exploited through unpaid labour and deprived of an education, subjected to unauthorised medical trials but had their own personal health neglected, placed in an adult mental health facility and stripped of personal identity and terminally separated from their parents and siblings, if they only experienced those forms of abuse they were considered subordinate or inferior. The royal commission did its job as it was required to do, but this should not be taken as a warrant—rigid, inflexible and mandatory—for the national parliament to establish a one-dimensional sexual abuse scheme only. When it came to redress, the royal commission was well aware of the impact of having its arms tied. It acknowledged:

… the requirement that we examine child sexual abuse in an institutional context gives us a narrower focus than most government and non-government institution redress schemes have had.

It also said:

… most previous and current redress schemes cover at least sexual and physical abuse. Some also cover emotional abuse or neglect.

Only a small minority of redress schemes around the world have focused on sexual abuse only.

There are Australian precedents for redress for a wide range of abuse. In Tasmania in 2003 abuse included: sexual abuse, physical abuse, mental or emotional abuse while in state care. In Queensland in 2007, the categories of harm were listed as: physical injury, physical illness, psychiatric illness, psychological illness and loss of opportunity with applicants being able to provide other types of harm in homes covered by the Forde inquiry of 1999. In Western Australia, it was physical and emotional abuse and neglect as well as sexual abuse. Unlike Queensland, the WA scheme also covered foster care. The Victorian Betrayal of Trust report in 2013 recommended redress in relation to criminal abuse of children including: unlawful physical assaults, sexual abuse offences, acts of criminal neglect and the facilitation of such offences by others.

There is no impediment, legal or moral, to the parliament including all forms of abuse in a national redress scheme. It's not for want of evidence or recommendations on redress. That's there in the Aboriginal deaths in custody report in 1991; the report Bringing them home,published in 1997; the Senate committee reports tabled in 2002; the child migrants report; and the 2004 report Forgotten Australiansnot to forget the Senate reports of 2009 on the progress of the implementation of the recommendations of the child migrants and forgotten Australians reports and, in 2010, the government compensation payments report from the committee. That's a background.

There have been wide-ranging experiences in relation to inquiring into forms of abuse other than sexual abuse. We agree with the Law Council of Australia's submission—they are appearing this afternoon, I understand. They say:

… while the Royal Commission was restricted by Letters Patent to only make recommendations about sexual abuse, governments and institutions are not so limited and can and should extend the findings to all forms of child abuse, including serious physical abuse that occurred in or around institutions and caused serious and long-term damage. The Law Council suggests that the Government should consider appropriate reform so that victims of severe physical abuse and neglect, deprivation of education or separation from culture, which can also have lifelong implications, can access appropriate redress

There are many other submissions that make similar points to this so there is obviously widespread concern that we have got a circularity of a position, where the royal commission only looked at sexual abuse and so this national redress scheme, which is a one-shot opportunity, is only about sexual abuse. That is wrong, simply wrong.

What we've got is a whole lot of care leavers who were not sexually abused but who have had to put their traumatic childhood lives on hold for the five years of the royal commission's tenure and who have developed a deep-seated feeling of being betrayed by governments. That's my first point.

My second point is that if the parliament goes ahead on the basis of one single redress for children who grew up in out-of-home care as well as those who did not, it will be the only scheme anywhere in the world, as far as I know, that deals with both care leavers and those who are not care leavers. Parliament must recognise the significant differences between the two categories of survivors. Non-residential or open settings such as sporting clubs, church activities, scouts, youth clubs, schools and even boarding schools have a contracted duty of care on a short-term and voluntary basis, and crucially those who ran these organisations did not replace the legal role of parents. Residential institutions such as orphanages, children's homes, youth training centres were closed total institutions and had legal responsibility 24/7 for the long-term care of children. Children in those institutions endured an inescapable and unrelieved full-time legal separation from their parents and often from their siblings too. They had no access to a protective adult, were isolated from the community and had no capacity for independent reporting to police or other authorities. Staff were in total control of the lives of children who had been sent to them precisely to provide for their care and protection that their parents were deemed incapable of providing. The betrayal of trust was absolute in the case of wards of the state. The state assumed permanent and complete responsibility for their care, and failed them. Crimes against children in these institutions were qualitatively different from crimes in open community organisations and should be treated differently in any redress scheme. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you. Ms Sheedy, do you have an opening statement?

Ms Sheedy : This candle is usually lit at every CLAN event, to have one minute's silence for all the dead care leavers who didn't get an opportunity to go to the royal commission or to get redress. Unfortunately, we can't light this, but it's there today.

On 12 November 2013, Julia Gillard announced that there would be a royal commission. On one hand, there was elation for those who had been sexually used in Australia's orphanages, children's homes, missions and foster care. The nation was now going to hear what had happened to them. On the other hand, there were all those children who were not sexually used, but who had to deal with cruelty, humiliation, separation from the families and their siblings and the lack of their cultures. They've been excluded from this royal commission. For the last five years, CLAN has had to support those people, always reminding them that we will advocate for all forms of abuse and neglect suffered by care leavers—for the unpaid labour in laundries, farms and orphanages. Children supplemented that work—little children.

Is this file are hundreds of care leavers' stories who weren't sexually abused. It is called, 'There is more than one way to harm a child'. That is a message to our nation's leader, the Prime Minister, and Bill Shorten and Richard Di Natale. This file is going to be presented to them. I think that you should also have a copy of those stories as well.

The national redress scheme has the great potential to right the wrongs to some care leavers who were sexually used; however, come 1 July, there are many care leavers who are going to be excluded, and their physical and psychological suffering will go unacknowledged. The depression rates will soar high and our already overstretched services will be required to support these care leavers.

I want to thank the royal commission and their team. I want to thank the Prime Minister for listening to care leavers when we said we didn't want to go back to the states because they were our legal guardians and they didn't care about us when we were children in those orphanages, children's homes, missions and foster care. Why should we have to go, cap in hand, to the state government to receive redress and justice?

I think there are many good things in the bill. I like the fact that they have 'reasonable likelihood', so you don't have the burden of proof. To tell you the truth, there are very few records that have proof of the crimes that were committed on us as children. There is only one file I have ever seen—and it is mentioned in our submission—about a New South Wales state ward. I delivered that to Junee prison. I didn't fill in the number on the submission, although I know the number. It said, 'He is currently residing at 180'—dash—'Macquarie Street, Sydney, with a paedophile'. He will be denied redress because he murdered a paedophile.

I am extremely worried about the redress scheme requesting records from the past providers, the churches and charities. The Salvation Army are delaying sending out records by months. Already, Catholic Care in Bankstown have told us there is a six-month delay for records. What happens in July when all these care leavers flood the redress scheme and the redress scheme requests files? Are care leavers going to die while past providers send these files or look for the records when they have been destroyed? We don’t have a long time to live. Our oldest member is 95. There is a man in the audience who has 12 per cent of his heart working. His doctor has written that he is likely to deteriorate very rapidly. There are lots of people—35 care leavers have died since the royal commission was established. They are the ones we know of who are members of CLAN.

I am happy to answer any questions. I will leave it to you guys. Please ask me.

CHAIR: Thank you very much for those statements. I will kick off with one question I have been asking a few witnesses. Obviously this cannot become a national scheme until the states do get involved, until they opt in. Has care leavers Australasia been in communication with those state governments? And can you give us an update on that communication?

Ms Sheedy : Yes. That's a good question. Thank you. Only this morning, I received a letter from the South Australian Premier. We all know in this room that the South Australian Premier has been reluctant to opt in. I won't read all of the letter but I will read the important parts: 'At the Council of Australian Governments meeting held on 9 February 2018, all first ministers, including myself, agreed to a national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse being finalised by June of this year.' This means that the South Australian government has made an in principle decision to opt into the national redress scheme. Of the other states, we hear that the Queensland government is supportive in principle. We know the Victorian and New South Wales governments are supportive of a national scheme. Tasmania is very silent. As much as I tried to get their position on redress prior to the election, nobody would bother to reply. Western Australia—we have not heard either. And the ACT—I think they are supportive, yes.

Senator HINCH: They're in as a territory.

Ms Sheedy : They're in as a territory. Yes, that's right. Correct.

CHAIR: Senator Hinch, do you want to start things off?

Senator HINCH: I didn't think I would be sitting here today listening and feeling guilty. I was one of the people pushing for a royal commission, but I apologise to all the people in the room from CLAN because I totally locked myself in on the 'sexual abuse' of children. Hearing you, Mr Golding, today, I think, if we can't get it with this redress scheme, we need another royal commission. We do. As an earlier witness said, we have 500,000 Australians who were in care and we are looking at a very important group. I am only a new politician, but in my days in radio and television I was blinkered, even though I have been associated with you guys for years. Until today I was totally focused, with the blinkers on, on victims of with sexual assault. Anything I can do for you to try and broaden this, I promise you, I will.

Ms Sheedy : Thank you for that. We appreciate that Derryn.

Frank Golding : I think it is not just the fact that the royal commission has focused for the last five years on sexual abuse only and has ruled out hundreds of people who want to talk to them about other forms of abuse; it is also that the media has been fixated on this. Headline after headline after headline, radio reports, television reports, hammered home the message of sexual abuse and I think—

Senator HINCH: Because those stories are so shocking; that's why.

Frank Golding : They absolutely are. Please don't get me wrong, they are the worst of all possible crimes against children. Nevertheless, there are lots of people who've suffered other forms of abuse of the sort that we've talked about, who—

Senator HINCH: Sunshine and oranges—

Frank Golding : They've had to sit in the background and hope that when the national redress scheme came out that the parliament would have the wit to say, 'We had a royal commission, which looked at sexual abuse but we've had these other Senate reports and so on that looked at other forms of abuse. We can roll this national scheme into a comprehensive redress scheme'. That is why, I think, the bill that you're looking at needs to be scrapped and we need to start again. I know that is not the message you want.

Senator HINCH: No. The problem with that is, as you mentioned, time is of the essence. I can see that we change this bill, we amend this bill and we get this bill through and go and work on the other areas you talk about at the same time, because if you scrap it people are going to lose out and they will die.

Frank Golding : Then amend it substantially.

Senator MOORE: Ms Sheedy, you said there were things in the bill you liked, and that there were also things—in your significant submission—that you didn't like. Can you run through a few of those things?

Ms Sheedy : Yes.

Senator MOORE: We're trying to see what is common across so many of the submissions. We know that CLAN was on the advisory group, and we've worked with other people who are on that group and put it on record that they were bound by confidentiality agreements, so they were not able to go out and talk about what went on. The $150,000 cap is now in this legislation, but we all know that the royal commission was recommending $200,000. What's your view on that? Do you have any idea about where that particular $150,000 number came from?

Ms Sheedy : We do have a view on that. The government shouldn't be able to cherrypick which recommendations they want or like. We should respect the royal commission's recommendations, and they stated $200,000 was the top level. I think that they took the $150,000 from the Melbourne response. Those are my thoughts. I have to spend a lot of time saying to care leavers that not everyone will get the top amount.

Senator MOORE: The expectation—

Ms Sheedy : The expectation is extremely high, and we have to water that down. We totally reject the section of the bill that excludes people with a criminal history. Every state minister, premier and chief minister supported the royal commission in 2013. They signed the royal commission patent, and the terms of reference stated that redress would be an issue to be looked at. To encourage all people who've been sexually used in orphanages, children's homes, missions and foster care to come forward and open up their hearts and tell their story of abuse and then for the federal government to change and say, 'Oh well, if you've got a criminal history, we're excluding you'. Those care leavers are only in prison because of the abuse they endured as children in the care of the so-called state government as their legal guardians. If we allow this part of the bill to be passed then we're saying as a community that the churches, charities and state governments can get away with crimes against children. This redress scheme is supposed to be about the crimes that were committed on children, not about what you went on to do in your adult life.

Senator MOORE: Ms Sheedy, you would be unsurprised to know that we haven't found anyone who's come to give us evidence who agrees with that proposal from government. That exclusion clause bedevils people who have worked in the field for a very long time, and also those who've, as Mr Golding has done, studied overseas experience. We can't find that. This is an interesting thing, the royal commission came up with a large number of recommendations. In their report, which was huge, they agonised over some of them, and they put in that they found some of the decisions that they came up with very difficult.

Is it your view that all the recommendations of the royal commission should be accepted? You said that the government shouldn't cherry pick when people have different views about some of those recommendations, such as the focus on sexual abuse. Do you actually, in principle, as an organisation, support the fact that the royal commission did the research, they've come up with recommendations and that there should be an expectation that the government would accept those recommendations?

Ms Sheedy : Most definitely. I think that after five years of working with care leavers, survivors and their families that we need to respect all of the royal commission's recommendations. As an atheist, we need to include all of those recommendations—I think you can read between the lines?

Senator MOORE: Okay. I have a couple questions that I just want to put on record. I know that other senators will have lots of questions. One of the things we've talked about is the limited time that people have their offers of redress remaining open for. Clearly, you'd all remember—and I bet there are people in this room who have read every single page of that royal commission report—again, that the royal commission had a degree of concern about what would be right and what would be wrong and came up with the year for people to have a chance to consider the recommendations because of the complexity of it.

The government's legislation is now for 90 days. Do you have a comment on that, knowing the group of people who are the members of CLAN? Why do you believe it's important to have the longer time?

Ms Sheedy : Some people won't need the longer time. They're elderly and they are dying. If there are three months to make a decision then they will make the decision—as soon as possible, a lot of them. But for people who require more time then three months is not long enough. We need to give them 12 months in which to decide whether they accept. This is about signing away your legal rights. You can no longer go and take a civil action.

Senator MOORE: Which was one of the most agonised decisions that the royal commission came up with. They talked clearly about the different concerns they had and that their final recommendation was that this would be a deed of release, that if you signed up for this scheme you would not then be able to take civil action.

Ms Sheedy : Yes.

Senator MOORE: So there is that complexity. I just want to open up a door now, because I think there's a lot of concern about this issue—and that door is around counselling.

Ms Sheedy : Oh, yes.

Senator MOORE: Yes. We talked in many, many inquiries about the role of counselling and how it should operate. You've read the segments in the royal commission about how it should operate and the need for it, and also about the term of the counselling—that it should be for the life of the people who have been caught up in this process.

Can you give us some information about how you think the counselling should operate? Should there be caps on it? We believe, although it's not in the legislation, that there is a $5,000 lump sum that is considered under counselling. I'd just like to get your views—to let you 'go' on this. I know that Senator Siewert will follow up on consultation, so I won't go there.

Ms Sheedy : Some care leavers don't want counselling. They've been counselled and they've had enough. There are some people who have the label 'counsellor' attached to their name. Every social worker who I meet and speak to in Australia, I always ask them this question: what did you learn about the 900 orphanages and children's homes in this country? And the answer is usually, 'Nothing.'

I have a particular slant on people in this nation who are making money out of our misery when they are not aware of what we endured in those orphanages and children's homes. I'm very concerned about the training that these counsellors are given. I do feel that they need to be not only trauma informed but that they need to be care leaver informed—and so does the redress scheme.

I think that those who want counselling should have it for as long as they need it. With Vietnam veterans, we acknowledge that war veterans have post-traumatic stress disorders, and, as taxpayers in this nation, we provide support to those soldiers. Well, children in orphanages and children who were in the care of the state, the churches and the charities are like little soldiers. We were in a war zone. We didn't have a gun, but we lived with fear every day of our lives. We've just had to suck it up. As the great Joanna Penglase, the other co-founder of CLAN, said, 'We had to grow up without our parents and pretend it didn't matter.'

I think that for those who require counselling they should have it for life, with trained, care-leaver-informed counsellors. And I think we have passed a lot of our pain and trauma onto our families and onto our children. Our children don't understand what we endured, because it is not spoken about out there in the community, and our children don't understand. There are many care leavers who have never told the children that they were raised in an orphanage, because of the shame and stigma. There is a couple in a country town in Victoria who have been married for 50 years. They only disclosed to each other four years ago that they were in orphanages, and their two adult children do not know to this day. Our children need to know, and GPs need to know. There are some horror stories out there about people who have gone to GPs. There was a doctor in Swan Hill of Russian descent who said, 'Oh well, at least you didn't grow up in a Russian orphanage.'

Senator MOORE: Mr Golding, you have been working in this field for a long, long time. Do you have any comment about the kind of family support and counselling that is required, and the recommendations from the government and the government proposal?

Frank Golding : This is where I think collapsing all forms of institutions into one scheme is problematic. Treating all survivors as if they were the same and recommending a particular form of counselling for all forms of this is just wrongheaded. The family situation for most care leavers is first of all reconstructing your own and then making your own, if you get that far. To understand what that entails emotionally and psychologically really takes a lot of work and effort on behalf of counsellors, whereas somebody who has been abused by a clergyman in a one-off event will have a quite different need to understand the situation and to understand ways of moving forward. I think Leonie is right—there are some care leavers who have had counselling and don't want any more, but there are lots of others who will need ongoing counselling, depending on how well they have been able to reconstruct the family that was taken away from them, and then the family that they may want to create or have created. So, I would extend the counselling also to the members of the family, because quite often they don't understand the way their parents behave in certain stressful situations, for example, and to understand that takes a little bit more than just an explanation for half an hour. It really requires work.

Senator SIEWERT: Ms Sheedy, you made a comment about reasonable likelihood and supported the definition. Can I ask you to comment on the submission for the Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church that says they don't support the reasonable likelihood standard of proof. We getting two different sets of feedback. We had a range of feedback, obviously. I'm guessing that you will have an opinion about this.

Ms Sheedy : The Truth, Justice and Healing Council are entitled to their opinion, the same as CLAN. But for children in orphanages, if you go and look at state ward files, they don't truly reflect who we were farmed out to during holidays, or the foster homes. So what does the Catholic Church want? They want us to prove that we were abused? They do not want to accept the reasonable likelihood that we were abused? So what has the royal commission been all about then? We didn't have that from the royal commission; they listened to, validated and acknowledged the crimes that were committed against children. They are not written on our state ward files or on our church records. Does that answer your question?

Senator SIEWERT: Yes. I wanted to get that on the record. Thank you.

Frank Golding : It is highly unlikely that someone is going to write in the day report, 'I abused a child today.'

Ms Sheedy : Just one child?

Frank Golding : None of these incidents are reported. So, in that sense, asking for evidence is a silly thing to do.

CHAIR: It is an insult.

Senator SIEWERT: Ms Sheedy, in your opening statement you touched on the number of people who passed away during the royal commission itself—and, as you pointed out, that was only those we were aware of. Could you expand on your comments about the need to address this as a matter of urgency.

Ms Sheedy : People are suffering while we are sitting here talking. We have another four months to wait before the redress scheme is opened. How much longer do they have to wait for the turnaround? People don't have enough money to pay for their funerals. I did read some evidence from your hearing in Canberra that an organisation said people are going out and getting loans in anticipation of getting this redress. Well, I haven't heard anything around Australia about care leavers doing that; they are more interested in paying for their funerals or getting their teeth fixed. A lot of them want to give some of their money to the children because they feel that they have hurt their children.

Senator SIEWERT: How important is it that we make this happen in a timely manner?

Ms Sheedy : There is a gentleman in the audience who has 12 per cent of his heart working. This is creating so much anxiety for people. There should be some sort of interim payment for people who are dying and who are elderly. The oldest member is 95. There is another fellow in Victoria, Ray Prosser, who is 90. Everyone knows about Ray. He has been in the media. They are extremely worried that they won't be around to see 1 July. Couldn't we have some humanity and open up the redress now to accept those people who are dying?

Senator SIEWERT: I have asked everybody this morning, and others, about the level of consultation. I am aware of CLAN's representation on the committee. The issue around care leavers and non care leavers was raised in a number of submissions and particularly by yourselves. Was there a level of consultation with the government about that specific issue as well as the broader consultation process that was undertaken?

Frank Golding : The answer is no. Leonie was a member of that consultative committee. She was one of two care leavers on the committee. There were 15 people on the committee. It was dominated by professional people. The care leaver voice was very minimal. I am a member of the CLAN committee. Leonie reported every month. I went to the redress consultative committee but I can't tell you anything. What sort of consultation is that? First of all, she and the other care leaver have to assert themselves in that context.

Senator SIEWERT: Just as an aside, I have never found that to be a problem!

Frank Golding : Nevertheless, there are 13 other people who want to have a say too—and all of them are to be gagged in terms of trying to understand what people out there are saying. It defies understanding. There are lots and lots of people who could have given views on the redress scheme but their voices were not heard because all the eggs were in this one basket—the consultation committee.

CHAIR: Do you have something to add, Ms Sheedy?

Ms Sheedy : Yes. There are a couple of things I forgot to add. The federal government cannot wash their hands of care leavers. I am a care leaver who was made a state ward. The federal government stopped paying the child endowment allowance. Here is a form that I've found; it is very old. Your parent's payment was stopped and it was then sent to the churches, the charities and the state governments who ran the orphanages. Here is a receipt from the Melrose Home for Boys; it had billed the Commonwealth government for 149 pounds. There was no transparency or accountability on those taxpayer dollars.

I want to go back to Claire's point about the exclusion of prisoners. Last night, at 2 am, I got up to write a lot of this stuff and I happened to find a letter, written on 16 December 2008, from a man in a South Australian prison. He said: 'I have the Redress Western Australia kit. I have nearly completed the application and I am only waiting to be transferred back to Port Augusta, where I have some paperwork files to include with my application.' That man was eligible for the Western Australian redress scheme and he was in prison. He is still incarcerated in South Australia. I received another letter from him three weeks ago. He was eligible in 2008 but he is not eligible for a top-up now.

Senator SINGH: Ms Sheedy, were you consulted about the decision to lower the redress scheme cap from the $200,000 recommended by the royal commission to $150,000?

Ms Sheedy : I think there was discussion on the advisory council.

Senator SINGH: But you can't say?

Ms Sheedy : No.

Senator SINGH: Perhaps I could ask it a different way. What is your view on the current cap of $150,000 compared to what was recommended by the royal commission?

Ms Sheedy : I think it is a disgusting amount of money for people who have suffered all their lives and the trauma and the crimes against them. It needs to be the $200,000 that the royal commission recommended.

Senator HINCH: I want to follow up on something that was raised earlier this morning and also at estimates last year. Anthony and Chrissie Foster and—and Chrissie is here in the back of the room today—discussed the $500,000 ambit claim. And then, only a few days before Anthony died, we talked about putting $250,000 to the royal commission. They came down with the $200,000. The federal government, out of the blue, came up with $150,000, which is exactly the same amount that was the maximum for the Catholic Church. I said in earlier evidence that we will try and get it back to $200,000 because I don't believe in coincidences.

I want to go back to the interim payments. The government can almost be accused of doing a James Hardie on asbestos here by stalling. After this hearing is over today, could you give me some ideas on how you would go about trying to push to an interim payment for people in dire need? Could you get that for me, Ms Sheedy?

Ms Sheedy : Yes.

Senator HINCH: Thank you.

Senator WATT: Thanks for your evidence today. I can see that it has raised a lot of really raw memories for people in the crowd. Thank you, everyone, for coming along. There is one other thing I want to touch on, and that is the proposal in the bill to limit to one per survivor the number of applications for redress, covering all instances. This rule has possibly been well motivated. I think the intention is to avoid the need for survivors to relive traumatic experiences from their childhood. But, obviously, there is also potential that this rule would cause survivors to miss out; they might make an application at the beginning of a scheme, when not all institutions have opted in, or they might wait to see the view of all the institutions on whether people should be able to lodge one application to cover all responsible institutions or whether they should have the ability to put in multiple applications for multiple institutions.

Ms Sheedy : I think they should just have the one application. When there is another organisation that has not opted in at the beginning, the onus should be on the redress scheme to contact the survivor. You can't just say to care leavers that it's on the website. Most care leavers are not au fait with the internet and don't have the literacy of the middle classes. So the onus should be on the redress scheme to tell them.

Another point I would like to raise is that I am really against past providers knowing that I have put in an application for redress. I really object to that. What about my privacy? What about everybody else's privacy? The people who abused us as children get the right to know that we have filled out an application form for redress! I strongly object to that. I don't even know whether I will fill in a redress form.

Frank Golding : All the historical records show that people were moved around through a succession of homes and foster care and so on. That history, which is not necessarily very well documented, complicates matters if you say you can only make one application.

CHAIR: Thank you both very much, and thank you to all your members of the network who have come in here today.