- The National Redress Scheme will require institutions to offer a Direct Personal Response (‘DPR’) to a survivor of child sexual abuse.
- Participating in DPR is unlike any other legal work, lawyers need new skills and knowledge to help their clients reap the benefits of a DPR.
- The Scheme also offers victims financial reparation and access to counselling and health services. These aspects of the scheme will be discussed in more detail in part two of this article.
The National Redress Scheme was established by the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Act 2018 (‘the Act’) which commenced on
1 July 2018. The Act will operate up until 1 July 2028 (s 193). In his second reading speech, Minister Dan Tehan said: ‘The scheme paves the way for all governments and institutions to take responsibility and provide long-awaited redress to survivors who suffered sexual abuse as children while in their care. It is time to acknowledge the wrongs of the past and provide survivors the recognition they deserve.’
Those who suffered child sexual abuse are referred to in the legislation as ‘survivors’. A ‘survivor’ is defined as a person who was sexually abused as a child, prior to 1 July 2018 in a participating State, Territory or outside Australia (s 6). The Scheme entitles survivors to three components of redress: financial redress of up to $150,000; a counselling and psychological component; and a direct personal response (s 16(1)).
The concept of a Direct Personal Response (‘DPR’) is relatively unfamiliar to the law. Courts and tribunals have never had the power to require an acknowledgment or apology.
Lawyers representing survivors will need to be familiar with the principles and be competent in the delivery of ‘Trauma Informed Care’ to achieve the best outcome from a DPR. Institutions will need to ensure that their processes comply with the Act and offer survivors optimal outcomes.