Final indignity for victims of child sexual abuse

ONLY a handful of child sex abuse victims who bravely told their stories to the royal commission have so far received compensation from the $3.8 billion national redress fund.

It is already too late for one man, who was sexually abused in a Sydney boys' home and died last week, aged 82, with his application for compensation still mired in the bureaucracy.

Another, Tony Duffy, who was abused in Salvation Army homes, is fighting terminal liver cancer with only weeks to live, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

"It is tragic," head of Care Leavers Australasia Network Leonie Sheedy said yesterday. "They are putting up brick walls and people are dying."

Leonie Sheedy with former prime minister Julia Gillard after the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. Picture: Kym Smith
Leonie Sheedy with former prime minister Julia Gillard after the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. Picture: Kym Smith

The redress scheme has paid out just $445,000 since it began to accept claims on July 1, despite 150 people working for it across two federal bureaucracies - the Department of Social Security and the Department of Human Services.

The highest payout was $100,000 and the lowest $50,000, with offers made to fewer than 10 people and not all of them accepting, Social Services confirmed yesterday.

The 44-page application form for compensation includes 61 questions, and a decision to slash the maximum payouts available from $200,000 to $150,000 has been slammed by survivors.

After decades battling to get anyone to believe them or take any action despite reporting the abuse, victims have been let down by the compensation scheme, said Ms Sheedy, whose group represents people raised in orphanages, children's homes and foster care.

"The fund seems to be institution-focused and not survivor-focused," Ms Sheedy, who was herself abused while in care at the Sisters of Mercy St Catherine's Children's home in Geelong, said.

"It has turned into a very unfriendly experience."

She said they had heard Prime Minister Scott Morrison's apology but felt they were still fighting for redress.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered the national apology but victims are still fighting for redress. Picture: Kym Smith
Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered the national apology but victims are still fighting for redress. Picture: Kym Smith

The 82-year-old who died last week in NSW had told the royal commission he was physically and sexually abused from the age of five while in the Royleston Boys' Home in Glebe during the 1940s.

His family has requested privacy as they prepare for his funeral.

Karen Duffy, whose husband Tony, 54, has been told he has only months to live with terminal liver cancer, said it was a struggle. He put in his application on July 2.

"He is hanging on as much as he can because he wants to get some closure for this," Ms Duffy said.

There are an estimated 60,000 survivors who experienced child sexual abuse in the nation's institutions including more than 16,000 who told their stories to the royal commission.

The National Redress Scheme will run for 10 years.

Newcastle-based lawyer Peter Kelso who has represented many victims of child abuse described the scheme as an "obstacle course".

Institutions that have joined the scheme include the Commonwealth, all state and territory governments and major churches and charities including the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, the Salvation Army, the YMCA and Scouts Australia.

A Social Security spokeswoman said it identified priority cases including people who were elderly or very ill and if someone died after putting in their claim, the money could be paid to their estate.



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