Progress made by Catholic Religious Institutes to enter National Redress Scheme

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Sixty religious institutes and dioceses with the highest number of claims according to Royal Commission data have either been declared as participating institutions in the National Redress Scheme, submitted their documentation and are awaiting a Ministerial declaration or are preparing documents for submission, says Catholic Religious Australia.

It is expected that most redress applicants will make claims against these institutions, which represent thousands of individual schools, orphanages and parishes where most of the abuse occurred. Those dioceses and religious institutes which have been declared by the Minister as having joined the Scheme include the largest religious institutes and dioceses.

CRA’s statement follows the publication by the Department of Social Services (DSS) last month of a list of religious institutes which have not yet been declared in the National Redress Scheme (NRS).

“We support transparency in providing information to those who have suffered institutional sexual abuse,” said CRA President Sr Monica Cavanagh rsj.

She said Parliament provided a two-year timeframe within which to enter the NRS, recognising the complexity of the conditions set for entry into the NRS.

“Participating Institutes and dioceses have had to prove they could meet these conditions in order to join the NRS: some have done so in the first eight months,” said Sr Monica. “This is positive in light of the Government’s statement that entry into the NRS can take three to six months.

“Entry into the NRS has not occurred as quickly as we would have liked but religious institutes where abuse has occurred have joined and are in the process of joining, as quickly as possible, working through the numerous elements of the process and working closely with the DSS.

“An institution is not allowed to enter the Scheme until it has  met the complex requirements of the Scheme, which results in a longer time frame for institutions to enter the Scheme than we would like.

“Nothing we can do now will right the wrongs inflicted on children, families and communities, but religious institutes remind survivors that they can continue to make claims directly to the institute, through civil litigation, through Church processes such as Towards Healing or through the National Redress Scheme.”

Sr Monica said CRA had been active in helping religious institutes to engage with the Redress Scheme, holding seminars and workshops for members on what is required to join the scheme and outlining the steps to take since 2017.

In addition, CRA is working closely with the Scheme operator and met last month with Family and Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher, whose department oversees the scheme.

CRA has represented religious institutes around Australia to inform the Government about the diverse nature of religious institutes and the challenges faced in relation to the NRS. CRA is scheduled to meet with Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services, Linda Burney later this month.