By Georgia Indian
Edited for online by Claire Boughey
The Queensland government has announced $550 million in funding towards the National Redress Scheme for survivors of sexual violence in state-run institutions.
Queensland will be the fourth Australian state to officially join the scheme, behind News South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, as pressure grows for the remaining states to show their support to victims of sexual assault.
The majority of the money will be focused on providing compensation to victims who were sexually assaulted as children in government-run institutions.
BraveHearts founder and executive chair, Hetty Johnston, said the funding would be a step towards finding peace and closure for those whose lives have been severely impacted by these crimes.
“Many of these survivors spend their whole life being treated as though they were the offender, that they had done something wrong,” she said.
“The access to compensation is an important step because it validates this did happen, it wasn’t my fault and people are sorry.”
More still needs to be done to prevent sexual assault from occurring in institutions initially, according to Mrs Johnston.
She said far too many cases were ignored or were not being dealt with properly.
“It’s costing billions of dollars every year,” she said.
“You can see that in our courts, our mental health institutions, in our schools and our family court system especially.”
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended the national scheme and advised a cap of $200,000 on repayments.
Despite this, the Queensland government will follow national trends and cap payments at $150,000.
Cases will be assessed individually, and compensation payments will vary as a result.
Canberra Rape Crisis Centre CEO, Christina Stanford, said for many victims the payments would have an enormous and positive impact on their lives and provide them with an avenue to pursue personal help.
“It’s get therapy or get help,” she said.
“One of the tensions we have is that people that have been harmed by any type of sexual violence… I don’t ever consider that they should ever have to pay to get help.”
The government said 5,000 Queenslanders were expected to be eligible for compensation under the new program.
It is not yet clear if the remaining Australian states will join the Redress Scheme.
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