One of the key outcomes to the recent Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been the creation of the National Redress Scheme. Started in 2018, the scheme holds institutions, such as a religious organisations, accountable for child sexual abuse that has occurred. It assists survivors of abuse to receive counselling, a personal apology and a compensation payment.
Institution can't be forced to join - Should this be mandatory?
Many institutions across the country have already joined or are in the process of joining the scheme, unfortunately there are many who haven’t. While the government can ‘name and shame’ organisations that have not joined the scheme, and do so here, they are unable to force them to join. For an abuse survivor to receive redress, an organisation must be part of the scheme. At Shine Lawyers, we have seen first-hand the impact on survivors if an institution is part of the scheme or not.
For the vast majority of abuse survivors we see at Shine Lawyers, many of them have never discussed or reported their abuse, let alone sought counselling for their trauma. Unresolved trauma can cause a lifetime of despair with the abuse continuing to haunt them. This can cause family breakdowns and mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. For some people this begins a vicious cycle where they may resort to drug and alcohol to ‘medicate’ their pain and potentially end up involved in criminal activities to fund those dependencies.
When a survivor’s abuse isn’t recognised by the institution who was involved, it can cause a lot of anger, which in turn hampers their healing and rebuilding of their lives. They not only feel ignored, but they aren’t able to access the treatment and funds that they need to recover and live a positive life.
How being heard can heal
Alternatively, if a victim of abuse is offered funded counselling from the organisation responsible for their abuse, it can go a long way in rebuilding their life. Firstly, they receive some much-needed professional treatment to help them heal, this enables a victim to move on with their life in a healthy way.
A survivor may also feel a sense of justice. When an organisation recognises that the abuse has occurred, a survivor may finally feel that they’re heard and believed, which is so important. Just feeling that recognition and knowing that an institution is attempting to rectify a wrong can have a significant impact on a survivor of abuse, which is vital to their recovery.
Melissa Strange, an abuse law expert at Shine Lawyers, says: “When I'm speaking to a client for the first time about their abuse and the impact it's had, I often tell them: ‘People start to heal the moment they feel heard’. I believe this is something that strongly resonates with all of our abuse clients and is why the offering of treatment to victims and survivors of abuse is so very important.”
Click here for more information on the National Redress Scheme.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 12, 2019.