Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) founders Joanna Penglase (left) and Leonie Sheedy (right) outside the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney, Friday, Feb 28, 2014.
Care Leavers Australia Network (CLAN) founders Joanna Penglase (left) and Leonie Sheedy (right) outside the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney, Friday, Feb 28, 2014. AAP Imag - Dean Lewins

Advocates want national compensation scheme for children

A NATIONAL organisation that provides support and advocacy services on behalf of people who grew up in orphanages, homes and institutions has called for a national compensation scheme to be established for victims of child sexual abuse.

The Care Leavers Australia Network, in its submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, claims current compensation schemes are inadequate because they differ significantly from state to state.

The Royal Commission, which has held hearings surrounding abuse at the North Coast Children's Home in Grafton, the Salvation Army's Riverview Training Farm near Ipswich and the Toowoomba Catholic Dioceses response to a pedophile teacher, resumed this week.

The commission has been tasked with drafting a proposal surrounding civil litigation, redress schemes and statutory victims of crime compensation schemes as part of its wide-reaching inquiry.

Care Leavers Australia Network chief executive officer Leonie Sheedy said if the scheme was established it should be facilitated by a body that is independent of any church, charity or government.

"The Catholic Church and all the churches and charities need to fess up and they need to show their moral compass," she said.

"It must be said no amount of redress will ever compensate the crimes committed against defenceless children who had no one to turn to, nor will it change what happened to them.

"A redress scheme is not just a method of compensation, but it is an acknowledgement of the pain and suffering our members have endured throughout their life."

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said in her submission to the commission no limitations should apply if a victim wished to claim compensation.

She said the organisation fully supported the establishment of a national compensation scheme.

"It is Bravehearts' stance that in cases involving the sexual assault of children, the application of any limitation provisions to deny adult survivors of sexual assault or abuse access to redress is theoretically, practically and morally unjustifiable," she said.

"Certainly experiences of Bravehearts' clients have been that the civil system is more often than not inaccessible, excessively expensive, re-traumatising, non-therapeutic, inadequate and lengthy.

Royal Commission CEO Philip Reed said the Royal Commission would deliver its final findings and recommendations on redress and civil litigation before June 30 next year.



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