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Recent Changes to the National Redress Scheme for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse

Recent Changes to the National Redress Scheme for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse

Published on April 17, 2024 by Emily Katheklakis and Kaylee Calleja


The National Redress Scheme (‘the Scheme’) was formed in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse which handed down its final report in 2017. Under the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Act 2018 (Cth), the Australian government established the Scheme to recognise and compensate victim-survivors who experienced child sexual abuse in orphanages, children’s homes, schools, religious institutions, foster care and other institutions. Inevitably, the Scheme had and continues to have some limitations, including access to redress for some individuals.

Since its formation, the Scheme has undergone two annual reviews, the most recent being the second and final review occurring between July 2020 and March 2021. After significant research and consultation, Ms Robyn Kruk AO delivered the ‘Final report of the Second Year Review of the National Redress Scheme’ (‘the Report’) on 26 March 2021. The Report made 38 recommendations for change to improve the effectiveness of the Scheme and ultimately improve access to justice for victim-survivors. Many of the recommendations were included in the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Amendment Bill 2024 (Cth) (‘the Bill’) to enact some of the recommendations and amend existing Australian legislation.

Current status

The Bill passed through the Australian parliament on 20 March 2024 and received Royal Assent on 28 March 2024. Accordingly, many of the recommendations have now been enacted in the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Amendment Act 2024 (Cth) (‘the Act’).

The changes

Arguably the most significant change arising from the Act is who is eligible to apply for redress. Previously, the Scheme prevented victim-survivors from applying for redress whilst they were incarcerated in an adult correctional centre. The Act now provides that only those ‘sentenced to imprisonment for 5 years or longer for unlawful killing, a sexual offence, a terrorism offence, or certain related offences’ are not eligible for redress under the Scheme [1]. Therefore, many individuals who were sexually abused as children in institutions and are currently incarcerated now have the opportunity to apply for redress. This change attempts to strengthen the Scheme’s focus on victim-survivors and better meet their needs by increasing the number of those who are eligible to apply for redress.

Another important change is the reduction of circumstances where a “special assessment process” is required. The Scheme previously required all victim-survivors with a ‘serious criminal conviction’, that is those who had been sentenced to imprisonment for five or more years for any crime, to undergo a ‘special assessment process’ if they wished to apply for redress. The Act now states that the ‘special assessment process’ is only required in ‘exceptional circumstances that make it likely that providing redress to the person under the scheme may bring the scheme into disrepute or adversely affect public confidence in, or support for, the scheme’ [2].

Other notable changes which have now been enacted include the following:

  1. Applicants are now able to provide new information when seeking a review of their application;[3]
  2. The protected information framework has been amended such that the disclosure of protected information is permitted in particular circumstances;[4]
  3. Improvements have been made to the ‘Funder of Last Resort’ provisions, which provide redress to a person for a ‘listed institution’ in limited circumstances;[5] and
  4. It is now possible to have a finalised application reassessed if a relevant institution later joins the Scheme (this change will take effect at a later date).[6]

As a result of the recent changes, it is expected that thousands of additional victim-survivors will now be eligible to apply for redress under the Scheme.

The changes to the Scheme are largely welcomed by both victim-survivors and prominent organisations including Knowmore. It is hoped that the changes to the Scheme will make it more trauma-informed, improve access to justice for victim-survivors and will treat victim-survivors of abuse more equally.

Further information

The above-mentioned changes are now in effect. The scheme will contact current applicants who may be impacted by the changes.

Any applications must be made to the Scheme before 30 June 2027. At this stage, there is no indication as to whether the date will be extended.

For more information on the Scheme, please visit or

It is important to note that if an offer is accepted under the Scheme, then it is not possible to make a civil claim against the institution. Therefore, if a victim-survivor wishes to investigate whether a claim against the institution is worthwhile, we recommend that they contact Carroll and O’Dea Lawyers before any application is made to the Scheme or an offer has been accepted.

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice. If you are seeking professional advice on any legal matters, you can contact Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers on 1800 059 278 or via our Contact Page and one of our lawyers will be able to assist you.

[1] National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sexual Abuse Amendment Act 2024 (Cth) s8.

[2] Ibid s9(2B).

[3] Ibid s1.

[4] Ibid s11.

[5] Ibid pt 4.

[6] Ibid sch 2.

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