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The $4,000,000,000.00 compo scheme where the bloke behind the counter decides there's a "reasonable likelihood" you deserve the money

Most compensation schemes require fairly rigorous testing of your case, particularly if you're after a big payout.

My mates who deal with the Department of Veterans Affairs tell me stories of endless medico-legal interviews, reams of paperwork and cascading hoops to jump through - and that's after their war service records have been proven.

If you have a prang in the car, do your back on a banana-peel at Woollies or get head-noises after years on the front line as a copper you have to put your case with some evidence to back it up.  Your evidence must conform to the rules of evidence, it must be able to be tested - and each side in our legal system expects some rights to an appeal.

If you're used to that system you might be interested to hear of another approach to handing over other people's money.

I know one bloke who appeared at the Child Abuse Royal Commission.  

The Australian Army tolerated a notorious old paedo working amongst the Army Apprentices at Balcombe and my mate came within range of the offender.  The crook was notorious.  We were 15 year old boys miles from home, on camp 24 hours a day and the crook was an authority figure.  The Army should compensate my mate because the Army didn't take reasonable steps to give the offender the flick - and I know the damage my mate suffered is with him still as a man in his 50s.

But fair dinkum victims like my mate will suffer again as they watch every two-bob bullshit artist from here to the black-stump front up to the Turnbull compensation scheme for their share of the $4,000,000,000.00 on offer.

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On 26 October this year the Government of Turnbull quietly slipped a bill into the House of Representatives to establish a $4,000,000,000.00 compensation scheme for persons for whom "there was a reasonable likelihood the person suffered institutional sexual abuse as a child".

That's the test - is there a reasonable likelihood the person suffered institutional sexual abuse as a child?

This extract is from the Explanatory Memorandum to the Bill circulated by Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter MP

Eligibility for redress

Eligibility for redress will be assessed on whether there was a reasonable likelihood the person suffered institutional sexual abuse as a child. A claim can be made at any time from commencement of the Scheme until 12 months before the closing date of the Scheme, which is 30 June 2028. However, applications for redress under the Scheme are limited to one application per survivor, whether or not that person suffered sexual abuse in more than one institution. Survivors will be able to include multiple episodes of sexual abuse and related non-sexual abuse suffered in multiple institutions in the one application.

Payments range from $10,000 to $150,000

Redress consists of three elements: a redress payment of up to $150,000, (minimum payment $10,000) access to counselling and psychological services and a direct personal response. Survivors will be able to choose whether to accept one, two or all three of the components of redress. The amount of the redress payment will depend on the level of sexual abuse and related non-sexual abuse that a survivor suffered and will be an amount up to a maximum of $150,000. The intention of this payment is to recognise the wrong the person has suffered. Survivors who have accessed redress under another scheme or received compensation through a settlement or by judgment of a court will not be excluded from applying for redress under the Scheme. However, any prior payments made by a participating institution in relation to the abuse suffered by a survivor that is within the scope of this Scheme, will be deducted from the amount payable by that participating institution.

...bureaucrats will decide who gets the loot - decisions not subject to review by courts - no rules of evidence

Internal review Reviews of decisions made under the Scheme are limited to internal review. This follows the recommendation of the Independent Advisory Council on redress, appointed by the Prime Minister, which included survivors of institutional abuse, representatives from support organisations, legal and psychological experts, Indigenous and disability experts, institutional interest groups and those with a background in government.

The Independent Advisory Council considered that providing survivors with external review would be overly legalistic, time consuming, expensive and would risk further harm to survivors. The internal review processes will enable applicants to seek review of determinations on applications for redress. The person conducting the review must have had no involvement in the original decision and may affirm, vary or substitute the original decision.

Merits review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or judicial review in the Federal Circuit Court or Federal Court under the ADJR Act will not be available to survivors or participating institutions. This is considered appropriate as redress is not intended to replicate civil litigation standards or processes. The Scheme is intended to be an alternative to civil litigation that avoids the risk of further harm to survivors. The lower evidentiary thresholds under the Scheme and the broad discretion of the decision-makers mean that merits review and judicial review under the ADJR Act are not appropriate for decisions under the Scheme. The Scheme is to be supportive, survivor-focussed and non-legalistic and decisions will be made expeditiously. Participating institutions will also not have the right to seek a merits or judicial review under the ADJR Act of any decisions made under the Scheme. This is because institutions participate in the Scheme voluntarily and opt-in to the Scheme with the understanding that certain matters will be decided by the Operator (or delegate).

So there you have it.

  • A Government of Turnbull scheme
  • Designed to make grants of $4,000,000,000.00
  • Grant recipients face a "reasonable likelihood" test
  • Grants range from $10K to $150K
  • Bureaucrats will decide who gets the money - and bureaucrats will review their own decisions

What could possibly go wrong?