The LCA has been accepted into the Australian National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced child sexual abuse in institutional settings.
Established by the Commonwealth Government, the scheme is a direct result of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It provides a nationally consistent means of response to abuse that occurred within churches and other institutions.
The LCA/NZ’s Professional Standards Manager Tim Ross welcomed the announcement by the Federal Government’s Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator The Hon Anne Ruston, that the Lutheran Church of Australia had been accepted into the scheme.
‘In joining the scheme, the LCA is publicly declaring its commitment to support those who have experienced child sexual abuse in our church’, Mr Ross said. ‘We must also be making every effort to prevent child sexual abuse occurring in the future. We are dedicated to promoting a child-safe culture and high standards of ethical behaviour within our church, including through comprehensive training and by developing clear policies and support systems that aim to keep our most vulnerable people safe.’
Senator Ruston said there were now 162 non-government institutions participating in the scheme, up from 67 last year, in addition to the Commonwealth, states and territories.
The Federal Government promised to provide redress to people who were abused in places run by the Commonwealth, such as the Australian Defence Forces and onshore immigration detention. Other governments and non-government organisations, including churches and charities, were invited to join the scheme in order to create a truly national system, covering as many people as possible.
The scheme is being administered by the Commonwealth’s Department of Social Services (DSS). Independent decision-makers assess and make determinations on applications to the scheme. Each eligible survivor of abuse in an LCA setting will be able to access: psychological care and counselling, a direct personal response from the LCA, $1000 to cover legal costs, and a monetary payment of up to $150,000.
Payments are assessed on a case-by-case basis, and awarded to eligible people according to the severity and impact of the abuse experienced. The scheme is an alternative to seeking compensation through the courts and is intended to be a simpler and more streamlined process.
An LCA Royal Commission working group was established in 2013 to respond to inquiries from the commission and to stay abreast of its interim reports. The group submitted seven consultation papers to the commission, including, in March 2015, a contribution to the consultation on redress and civil litigation.
In 2017 the Royal Commission presented the Governor-General with its final report, made up of 17 volumes and featuring 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a redress scheme.
Along with representatives of other Australian churches and religious groups, Mr Ross consulted with the DSS as it developed the redress scheme.
The LCA applied to join the scheme in June 2018 after the then General Church Council (now Board) considered a proposal from the Royal Commission working group.
By ‘opting-in’ to the scheme, the LCA joined state and territory governments and non-government bodies including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Salvation Army, the Uniting Church, Australian Christian Churches and Scouts Australia.
The scheme started on 1 July 2018 and runs for 10 years.
For more information, see the Commissions and Inquiries page on the LCA website.