Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said that he will deliver a national apology to victims of institutional child sexual abuse on the 22nd October 2018.
The statement follows a five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse committed at religious and state-run institutions responsible for the safety of children.
The government of Australia has also said that it will set up a national redress scheme that provides financial and legal services to victims.
This is good news for UK victims of abuse, who were shipped off to Australia as migrants, but who returned later and who still reside in this country.
The Child Migrants Trust, who represent children taken to Australia and other countries reports that over 130,000 children were deported from Britain and shipped off to a “new life”. This forced migration ended in 1970.
The scandal of the child migrants has also been the subject of scrutiny by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Their public inquiry began in February 2017, and recommended that United Kingdom Government establish a redress scheme.
Now the Australian government has said that they may establish such a scheme.
Redress Schemes are becoming more and more common in the UK and elsewhere. Here are some examples :-
- Republic of Ireland – the scheme awarded up to 300,000 euros or approximately £263,000.
- Jersey – this scheme awarded up to £60,000 with £3,000 for medical costs
- Northern Ireland (this has yet to come into force) – this scheme will award up to £100,000
- Canada – Nova Scotia – this scheme awarded $120,000 or approximately £92,760.
The latest Scheme, which has been running since the 1st January 2018 is that set up by the London Borough of Lambeth. This awards up to £125,000 to child victims of abuse in Lambeth homes.
What kind of shape will the Australian redress scheme take? We can only speculate, but it is likely to have the following features :-
- There will be no limitation period – in other words the age of the Applicant is not a bar to making a claim.
- It may be possible for the estate of a former child migrant to make a claim.
- Compensation will be limited to a figure – perhaps around £100,000.
- There may be a form of “Common Experience Payment” as a minimum award.
- There may be provision for the payment of lawyers’ costs on top of the compensation
The Abuse Division at Hudgell Solicitors has many years’ experience of representing survivors of abuse. At present we represent over 60 former child residents of Lambeth’s care homes and we are taking claims forward under that Scheme.
If you are a survivor of abuse and you think you may qualify under the Australian Migrants Redress Scheme, contact Malcolm Johnson on 0800 321 3322.