National Redress Scheme For Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Commonwealth Powers) Bill

The Hon. R. SANDERSON (Adelaide—Minister for Child Protection) (12:38): I rise to speak on the National Redress Scheme for victims of institutional child sexual abuse bill 2018. I commend both the Premier and the Attorney-General for formally opting into the National Redress Scheme on behalf of South Australia in May of this year.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard from thousands of sexual abuse survivors across Australia. Each of those were at one time children—often vulnerable members of the community—placed into the trust of institutions and sexually abused by the very people charged with their care and protection. The stories given by those survivors during the royal commission exposed us to the prevalence of institutional sex abuse, the failure of those caring for them to respond and the devastating impacts such abuse has had on the lives of the survivors.

In addition, the commission found that many survivors have not realised justice through traditional civil litigation systems. The commonwealth government, through the establishment of the National Redress Scheme, acknowledges that sexual abuse suffered by children in institutional settings was wrong. It was a shocking breach of trust. It should never have happened. This government, by opting in to the scheme, also acknowledges these facts.

Over the 16 years of the former Labor government, there have been a number of royal commissions and inquests: the Layton child protection review in 2003, two Mullighan inquiries in 2008, the Debelle inquiry in 2014 and, most recently, the Nyland royal commission. Each of these addressed in one shape or form sexual abuse in the South Australian child protection system. It was not until this government was elected in March this year, however, that South Australia had a dedicated child protection minister.

My sole focus is on improving the lives of our most vulnerable children in this state, 3,680 of whom are in out-of-home care. I am committed to protecting those children and improving their lives. Having met with a number of survivors, I am too familiar with the devastating lifelong consequences sexual abuse can have on a child or young person, and I am aware of how long it can take for a survivor to have the capacity and strength to disclose abuse that they have suffered.

The National Redress Scheme will operate for 10 years. The scheme will be operated by the commonwealth government. The majority of the large faith-based institutions, along with other large non-government institutions who are providing services for children in South Australia, such as Scouts, YMCA and the Salvation Army, have opted in. With these large institutions showing their commitment to opt in to the scheme and more non-government institutions from South Australia to opt in with this bill's passing, it is estimated that the scheme will provide an opportunity for over 90 per cent of survivors of institutional child sexual abuse to seek redress.

The scheme will provide survivors with three elements of redress, comprising a monetary payment of up to $150,000, access to counselling or psychological services and a personal response from the responsible institutions. This third element, if the survivor wishes for such contact, not only acknowledges abuse and its impacts but also the steps taken to prevent it from happening again. Due to the limits of legislative powers under the Commonwealth Constitution, the passing of this bill is necessary in order for the relevant commonwealth legislation to be adopted and for the National Redress Scheme to become operational here in South Australia.

It is necessary, as it is one of a number of significant steps our government is taking to protect children from institutional sexual abuse, to hold perpetrators to account and to provide support and justice for survivors. The National Redress Scheme will forge a pathway allowing survivors to hold institutions to account without having to pursue an often brutal and complex litigious pathway, a mechanism which often leads to retrauma for survivors. I commend this bill to the house to ensure South Australia's expedient involvement in the National Redress Scheme for all those survivors of abuse in this state.