June 15, 2018

SUBJECT/S:  Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

SABRA LANE: Yesterday the Federal Government indicated it had accepted 104 of 122 recommendations involving the Commonwealth with another 18 recommendations still under review. The Royal Commission was set up under the Gillard Government, the frontbencher Jenny Macklin played a key role then and the Shadow Social Services Minister joined me earlier. Jenny Macklin how important will it be for child sexual abuse survivors to hear this apology?

JENNY MACKLIN, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES & SOCIAL SERVICES: It is very important for people who have suffered the most horrific abuse to hear this apology, but it is equally important to the survivors to know that the changes are going to be put in place by the states by the commonwealth and by institutions to make sure that the sort of sexual abuse that we’ve seen so widespread in Australia in the past is really wiped out to the extent that is possible in the future.

I think people more than anything want to make sure that children are protected in the future and the changes that are being worked on by the Commonwealth and the states we hope will see that happen.

LANE: MP’s on all sides have worked to make this happen, but there are still recommendations that you would still like to see adopted by the Federal Government, a senate committee is due to report its findings tomorrow. One of your big concerns is that payments in the redress scheme are being capped at $150,000. Some states have insisted on that level. Is that payment better than nothing?

MACKLIN: Yes, it is better than nothing. Of course we want to make sure that the redress scheme starts on the first of July, there are people sadly who have already died who are not going to get the redress that they deserved, and so we don’t want people to have to wait any longer. It is nevertheless very disappointing that the Commonwealth and the states have not agreed to the Royal Commission’s recommendation that the cap on the redress payments be $200,000, but that said, as you point out, the $150,000 cap is certainly better than no redress scheme at all.

LANE: If Labor is elected at the next federal election will Labor consider lifting that maximum payout?

MACKLIN: We would. But of course we would have to negotiate that with the states and territories. It nevertheless is an important principle we think. We also have other concerns about the level of counselling services and support that are available for survivors of child sexual abuse. I think we all need to really have in the front of our minds that these are people who have been horrifically abused and the level of ongoing counselling and support, I think, is not as high as it needs to be. Once again, something is better than nothing but we would seek to improve that area as well. We’re concerned that the payments that people have received in the past are going to be indexed and so people might end up with much less redress than they might be anticipating. So these are different issues that we are disappointed about, we are concerned that some people are going to get short-changed, but we certainly wouldn’t be seeking to hold up the redress scheme.

LANE: You’re also worried that those who suffered abuse have only six months to decide on whether to join the scheme or not. Why don’t you think that will be enough time for them?

MACKLIN: These are very, very difficult issues for people to have to confront again. They have to go over all of the terrible things that happened to them. And they have to consider whether they are going to accept this redress payment or go to the courts. And some may in fact get a better result from going through a court case, although it may also be more difficult for them. So these are very big decisions for people to make and for many people I think they might just be pleased to have it done, but for some it may take time.

LANE: Are you satisfied that the Churches, including the Catholic Church understand that they need to change?

MACKLIN: Well if they don’t change then I think the Australian people are just going to completely horrified by people’s attitudes. This Royal Commission has brought to light some of the worst abuse, more than I think most Australians really understood. People today are really looking to both levels of government, but also institutions – all institutions – that have been responsible for the abuse of children to do the right thing. Yes to pay compensation or redress but also to change their practices to change their culture to make sure that in the future children are safe – that is absolutely imperative.

LANE: That’s the Shadow Social Services Minister, Jenny Macklin.


Authorised by Noah Carroll ALP Canberra