Tasmania’s Sexual Assault Support Service has voiced concerns over governance arrangements which oversee the national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.
The organisation’s chief executive Jill Maxwell has further expressed concerns to a parliamentary committee examining the scheme about access to redress by people who were incarcerated or had serious criminal convictions as well as provision of counselling services, particularly for people in isolated areas of the state.
Ms Maxwell said the scheme had a board and a committee which did not include survivors or members of support services, and therefore, might not take into account a victim’s best interests.
She said faith-based organisations were able to attend meetings of the Redress Scheme Committee which constituted a conflict of interest and there should instead be an independent advisory committee to oversee the scheme.
On counselling, Ms Maxwell said survivors should receive a payment to cover services as they might already have established a relationship with a professional.
She said people in regional and rural areas, particularly in Tasmania, had less service access than main population centres.
Ms Maxwell said it would be difficult for people in jail to secure redress support services and barring people with certain offences from obtaining redress could be detrimental to their mental wellbeing and increase their risk of re-offending.
The Australian Lawyers Alliance said the maximum payment of $150,000 under the scheme should be brought up to the maximum payment of $200,000 as recommended by the Royal Commission.
"While the scheme is not intended to offer the level of payment that might be available through civil litigation, applicants will compare what is available through each route," it said.
"While many will be happy to accept a lower payment to avoid the stress of litigation, the greater the gap between the two potential amounts, the less attractive the scheme will be to survivors."
Under the scheme, there is a window of 90 days for a survivor to accept a redress offer.
The Law Council of Australia has labelled this timeframe inadequate and out of line with the recommendation of one year.