National redress scheme for survivors of childhood sexual abuse gets go-ahead

Doug Hendrie

20/06/2018 2:11:41 PM

Legislation for a national redress scheme for the survivors of institutional childhood sexual abuse has passed Federal Parliament.

Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are finally being heard. (Image: Jeremy Piper)
Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are finally being heard. (Image: Jeremy Piper)

Australia is set to have a national redress scheme for the survivors of institutional childhood sexual abuse from 1 July after legislation passed Federal Parliament.
A national apology by the Prime Minister will follow on 22 October.
The $3.8 billion national redress scheme will support around 60,000 survivors of institutional childhood sexual abuse and run for 10 years.
Each survivor is expected to be able to access a redress payment of $150,000.
Major non-government institutions, including the Catholic Church, Anglican Church, Salvation Army, YMCA Scouts Australia and Uniting Church, have agreed to join the scheme and provide redress to people who were sexually abused as children while in their care.
Abuse that took place in Commonwealth-run institutions such as the Australian Defence Force and onshore immigration detention will also be covered.
All Australian states and territories are expected to be on board with the scheme.
GP Dr Libby Hindmarsh co-edited the latest version of the RACGP’s
Abuse and violence: Working with our patients in general practice (White Book).
She told newsGP that she was pleased that the scheme would be implemented.
‘But how do you put a price on what happened to these people?’ she said.
Dr Hindmarsh said that a vital part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission) was the fact that so many survivors were heard – and believed.
‘Being heard and believed is one of the most important parts of this,’ she said. ‘And that’s what’s important when we see adult survivors of child abuse in general practice – that we’re able to hear and to believe what they’re telling us. 
‘It’s often very hard for them to speak about this, as they experience a huge amount of shame and self-blame.
‘The first step towards healing is to be able to have your stories heard and believed.’
Dr Hindmarsh said that many GPs would already be seeing many silent survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
‘We know that survivors present for medical care more than for other people,’ she said. ‘We know that adverse childhood experiences contribute significantly to what happens to them as adults.’
However, Dr Hindmarsh said the Royal Commission would not signify the end of survivors of child abuse presenting to general practice.
‘The GP will continue to see patients who are adult survivors of child abuse – and it will be important that they listen and believe them, and that they engage in trauma-informed care,’ she said.
‘Trauma-informed care is about what has happened to you, rather than what is wrong with you. Instead of treating the symptoms, such as a patient abusing alcohol, it’s talking about what the cause of this.’

childhood sexual abuse institutional childhood sexual abuse royal commission trauma informed care

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