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National Redress Scheme, Australian government


The National Redress Scheme was established by the Commonwealth government in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It is administered by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services. The NRS was established in 2018 and was announced that it would run for 10 years.

The National Redress Scheme was established to recognise the sexual abuse that many children experienced in Australian institutions, and to acknowledge the ongoing impact and suffering as a result of this abuse. Under the NRS, people can apply for redress if they experienced sexual abuse in an institution including orphanages, children’s Homes, schools, churches and other religious organisations, sporting bodies, hospitals and foster care.

Under the National Redress Scheme, applicants can request access to three things:

  • Counselling
  • a Redress payment
  • a direct personal response from an institution (eg, an apology).

According to the NRS website, payments “will be decided on an individual basis”, and can range from less than $10,000 up to $150,000. Applicants can get free support to complete their redress applications via one of the Redress Support Services established as part of the NRS.

Advocacy groups have criticised the NRS for not being survivor-focussed; for making the application process difficult and traumatic; for the way payments are determined; and for the opt-in nature of the scheme, meaning that survivors’ applications cannot be processed until the responsible institution has joined the Scheme.

In response to these criticisms, the Commonwealth government has undertaken multiple reviews of the Scheme, which has led to changes including some simplification of the application process; advance payments being made available in some circumstances; and the publication of institutions named in the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, who have not yet joined the Scheme.

The NRS website also lists organisations who are named in redress applications, who have not yet joined the Scheme or signifiied their intent to join. In 2021, it was announced that institutions who had not yet joined the Scheme may suffer financial consequences as a result, including being restricted from accessing future Commonwealth grant funding, and risk losing their charitable status.

Funder of last resort arrangements have also been put in place, meaning that the state or Commonwealth governments agree to step in and fund redress claims for institutions which no longer exist, and where no successor organisation can be identified, as long as the government is found to be equally responsible for the abuse a person experienced.

The National Redress Scheme is due to run for 10 years, with applications to be received until July 2027.

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