Redress scheme ‘failing’ victims

Care Leavers Australiasia Network (CLAN) co-founder Leonie Sheedy.

By Luke Voogt

A redress scheme for child sexual abuse is treating some victims like “insurance claims” and failing to recognise their suffering, according to a Geelong advocate.

The scheme had failed to compensate a Geelong man, who wished to remain anonymous, the maximum amount of $150,000, Care Leavers Australiasia Network (CLAN) co-founder Leonie Sheedy said.

In a June review, a second “independent decision maker” found the man being raped as a boy multiple times in a Geelong orphanage did not qualify as “extreme circumstances”, signing off on $100,000 instead, Ms Sheedy said.

“Being raped 12 times as a little boy doesn’t count as extreme? He’s a 79-year-old man, he’s waited long enough [for compensation].”

Ms Sheedy, who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for her advocacy, is set to address a federal parliamentary joint select committee on the implementation of the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse at 10am today.

While the scheme had given some victims a sense of recognition, for many it had failed to address “the criminality inflicted upon their bodies as children”, Ms Sheedy said.

She said the scheme forced victims applying for compensation to go into “graphic detail” about the abuse they suffered as children.

Forcing elderly people to relive their trauma again in redress applications was “horrific”, she said.

“They need to believe care leavers, they need to stop the forensic investigations and they need to pay these elderly care leavers before they die.”

She also criticised the scheme for handing information to the culprit institutions and insurance companies.

“Redress is not an insurance claim,” she said.

“How dare they share our most personal and private information with the abusers and the insurance companies.”

After suffering abuse as a child herself and advocating for fellow care leavers for more than 20 years, Ms Sheedy said she would “never give up”.

“How could you give up on these poor [children]? I’m one of them.”

Victims forego their right to sue institutions after being compensated by them under the scheme, according to Ms Sheedy.

While “the money doesn’t take away the pain”, the scheme was important for validating victims, she said.

To contact CLAN phone 1800 008 774.

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