Abuse & neglect

Protecting children and young people from harm, and information on the National Redress Scheme

    Overview

    We want children and young people with disability to live in communities where they are happy and safe – where there’s someone looking out for them, they know their neighbours, and they can get on with playing, learning and having fun with family and friends. Sadly, we know that abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability happens in all the places where they live their everyday lives – including in their homes, schools, playgrounds, libraries, swim centres and local shops.

    Children and young people are often considered ‘vulnerable’ to harm because of their age – those with disability particularly so. Simply having a disability doesn’t increase the risk of harm occurring. But the risk is increased by some of the things people with disability commonly experience as a result of having a greater reliance on others for care and support, being socially isolated, and lacking a trusted adult or a way to communicate with someone who can help.

    Please note the information on this webpage may be distressing for some people. A range of free support is available, with links and contact information at the bottom of this page.

    Image description: Boy sitting down with knees up and face hidden

    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

    The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, held between 2012 and 2017, was established in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children in institutional contexts that had been emerging in Australia for many years. Throughout the course of the Royal Commission, commissioners listened to the personal stories of more than 8000 survivors and read more than 1000 written accounts. A total of 4.3 per cent of survivors told the Royal Commission they had disability at the time of the abuse.

    The final report of the Royal Commission made a large number of recommendations in order to prevent child sexual abuse.

    The National Redress Scheme in response to the Royal Commission

    The National Redress Scheme provides support to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. It was established following the findings of the Royal Commission.

    The Scheme:

    • acknowledges that many children were sexually abused in Australian institutions
    • holds institutions accountable for this abuse, and
    • helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse gain access to counselling, a direct personal response, and a redress payment.

    The Scheme began on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years.

    People need to be aged 18 years and over to accept an offer of redress. Children under 18 are eligible to apply for redress if the child turns 18 before the end of the scheme in June 2028.

    The National Redress Scheme can provide three things:

    It is an individual's choice about whether they would like to receive some or all of these components.

    All states and territories and key non-government organisations such as the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, the Salvation Army, YMCA and Scouts have agreed to join the Scheme.

    For the latest news and updates about the Redress Scheme, please visit its website.

    CORONAVIRUS UPDATE FROM DSS: "The National Redress Scheme is considered ‘essential work’ for the Department of Social Services. The Scheme will continue to operate, but coronavirus restrictions mean we have to change the way some services are delivered. Our priority continues to be the processing of applications and delivering outcomes. We are doing everything possible to process applications and are working closely with participating institutions."

    CYDA support for the National Redress Scheme

    CYDA’s work regarding the National Redress Scheme includes providing information, assistance and referral, and working closely with the operators of the Scheme and other services to ensure that the needs of children and young people with disability are met.

    CYDA provides free and confidential information and assistance regarding application to the National Redress Scheme for children and young people with disability and their families and carers.

    CYDA provides information and assistance to other support services to ensure that children and young people with disability are able to fully engage with the Redress Scheme.

    CYDA can provide:

    • further information about the Redress Scheme
    • information about the application process
    • connections and referrals to other services including counselling, free legal services and financial support services
    • information and advice to other services to make sure that the needs of children and young people with disability are met in the application process.

    Please contact us for more information.

    Counselling and other supports are available

    The material on this section of our website may raise issues for you or someone you know, or bring to mind past experiences and trauma. Children and young people with disability, their family, carers and supporters might need immediate assistance, support or to talk to someone when they are ready to do so. A range of free support services are available.

    If you are in an emergency situation and need immediate support, please contact emergency services by calling 000 (triple zero).

    For other supports, please contact one of these services:

    • Lifeline: 13 11 14. Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services.
    • 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732. 1800RESPECT provides 24/7 support for people affected by sexual assault and domestic or family violence.
    • Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800. Kids Helpline provides 24/7 telephone counselling for children and young people aged five to 25 years.
    • MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978. MensLine provides 24/7 telephone and online support, information and referrals for men.
    • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467. The Suicide Call Back Service provides 24/7 telephone crisis support for people at risk of suicide, carers and the bereaved, as well as online information and resources.
    • Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36. Beyond Blue provides 24/7 telephone mental health support and online chat from 4pm to 10pm AEST.
    • headspace: 1800 650 890. headspace provides online and telephone support and counselling to young people aged 12 to 25 years, and their families and friends. The service operates between 9am and 1am.

    Information about free and confidential services that can assist you with an application, and further information about the Redress Scheme, can be found here.

    FAQs

    • Can someone apply to the National Redress Scheme more than once?

      No. An individual can only make one application for redress under the Redress Scheme, even if there was more than one instance of abuse. This is why it is important to speak with people who can assist you with your application. Please call or email us for more information, or contact knowmore, the free legal advisory service.

    • Can someone under 18 apply for the National Redress Scheme?

      An individual can submit an application as long as they will turn 18 before 30 June 2028.

      In this case, you will receive a preliminary assessment of your application, which may help you decide whether you would like to wait for redress or pursue other options. After you turn 18, the National Redress Scheme team will contact you again to ask if you want to proceed with your application or withdraw it. If you choose to proceed, your application will then be assessed. Offers may differ from the preliminary assessment as individual circumstances may change.

      Individuals must be 18 years or older to accept an offer of redress.

    • I'm not sure if I'd like to apply, or if I'm eligible. Where can I find out more?

      It is normal to feel nervous, confused or distressed about the idea of applying to the National Redress Scheme. There is information on the Scheme's website for people who are thinking about applying, or you can contact us for some preliminary information and a referral.

      The application process has been designed with the intention to not cause further distress, but there still might be times when this process may be difficult. Free, confidential support services are available to help you before, during and after applying.

    • How do I know if an organisation has joined the National Redress Scheme?

      For you to access redress, the institution or organisation responsible for the abuse must have joined the National Redress Scheme. The list of institutions that have joined the Scheme, or intend to join, is updated regularly. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.

    • How can I get some legal advice about my options about the National Redress Scheme?

      knowmore is an independent service giving free legal advice to survivors of abuse by providing them with information about the justice and redress options that may be available to them.

      knowmore helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse, and anyone contacting them on their behalf. This means people who were sexually abused at school, in a sporting club, children’s service, orphanage, foster care, residential care, religious organisation, government organisation or any organisation that was involved with children.

      For more information or to speak with someone for advice or assistance please visit the knowmore website or contact them on 1800 605 762.

    • What does the National Redress Scheme do with my information?

      There is legislation around the National Redress Scheme that sets out how your information is protected. There are strict rules about how the information in your application can be used. People who use or share your information inappropriately can be jailed or fined. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.

    • I'm feeling really alone and overwhelmed by the process. Where could I find some help?

      There are free, confidential and independent support services available to assist:

      • Legal support services are delivered by an organisation called knowmore, which provides advice about your legal options, and applying for and accepting an offer of redress.
      • Redress support services are available to help you understand the Scheme and guide you through the whole application process.
      • Financial counselling services are available to help you think through how to manage your redress payment.

      You can access these services at any time when considering applying for redress, if you are applying for redress, or if you are considering an offer of redress. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.

    • What happens after I apply to the National Redress Scheme?

      When the National Redress Scheme team receives your application they will phone you to let you know they have it. At that time they may also ask you for more information if needed.

      An Independent Decision Maker will consider your application for redress. The assessment may take some time to complete.

      You may want to think about who could give you some support if you need it. This could be someone you already know and trust or Redress Support Services can help.

      More information about the application process and what happens next is available on the Redress Scheme website.

    • What do I do after I have received an offer from the National Redress Scheme?

      The National Redress Scheme will call you and send you a letter about the outcome of your application. If your application for redress is approved, you will receive an offer letter. The offer letter will explain all of your options, including accepting or declining an offer or asking for a review of the outcome of your application.

      If you do not agree with the outcome you can request a review. You need to apply for a review within six months of the date of the letter explaining the outcome. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.

    • Will my redress payments impact my income support payments?

      Are redress payments counted as income by Centrelink?

      Redress payments are not counted as income for the purpose of any pension or benefit under the Social Security Act 1991, the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986, and the income tax assessment act. This includes pensions and benefits such as the Age Pension, JobSeeker, Disability Support Pension and Family Tax Benefit.

      This means a redress payment will not be counted as income for the purposes of calculating a Centrelink pension or benefit. However, the redress payment may be counted as an asset (see below for more information).

      For people who already receive a Centrelink pension or benefit, this means they do not have to report the redress payment as income to Centrelink.

      Are redress payments counted as assets by Centrelink?

      A redress payment may be counted as an asset for the purpose of calculating a person’s pension or benefit. This is because the balance of a person’s bank account is considered an asset.

      A redress payment may also be included as a liquid asset for the ‘liquid assets test waiting period’ for people claiming Jobseeker, Youth Allowance or Austudy.

      The liquid assets test waiting period is the amount of time a person has to wait before receiving one of the above payments if they have funds that are readily available to them. The period can vary from one week to 13 weeks, depending on the amount of the person’s assets and their personal situation.

      In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has allowed a temporary exemption from the liquid assets test waiting period for six months from 25 March 2020. This means people applying for a Centrelink pension or benefit will no longer have to wait to receive their payment, even if they have liquid assets such as a redress payment.

      Are redress payments taxed?

      No personal income tax is not deducted from redress payments. This means people who receive a redress payment will not need to declare it to the Australian Taxation Office as taxable income.  

      What happens if a redress payment is gifted?

      If a person gives all or part of their redress payment to another person, then the amount given could be taxable income. It could, if that recipient is on a Centrelink payment, pension or benefit, also be considered as income and also an asset for Centrelink payments, pensions or benefits.

    Resources

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    Submissions

    November 2017

    Australia's draft report to the UN committee on the rights of the child

    Article

    Submissions

    July 2016

    Abuse of students with disability in Australian schools

    Article

    Submissions

    April 2016

    Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse consultation paper institutional responses to child sexual abuse in out of home care

    Article

    Submissions

    April 2016

    Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse consultation paper best practice principles in responding to complaints of child sexual abuse in institutional contexts

    Article

    Submissions

    November 2015

    Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issues paper 10 advocacy and support and therapeutic treatment services

    Article

    Submissions

    September 2015

    Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issues paper 9 addressing the risks of child sexual abuse in primary and secondary schools

    Article

    Submissions

    July 2015

    Inquiry into violence abuse and neglect against people with disability in institutional and residential settings

    Article

    Submissions

    June 2015

    Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse issues paper 8 - experiences of police and prosecution responses

    Article

    Submissions

    March 2015

    National framework for protecting Australia's children (2009 - 2020)

    Article

    Strengthening participation of children and young people with disability in advocacy

    Research & reports

    October 2014

    Strengthening participation of children and young people with disability in advocacy

    Article

    Enabling and protecting: Proactive approaches to addressing the abuse an neglect of children and young people with disability

    Research & reports

    July 2014

    Enabling and protecting: Proactive approaches to addressing the abuse an neglect of children and young people with disability

    Article

    Submissions

    November 2012

    Consultation paper regarding establishment of a royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse in Australia

    Article

    Legislation & acts

    December 2006

    United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability 2006

    External Website

    Legislation & acts

    December 2006

    United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability 2006

    External Website

    January 2000

    Abuse & neglect for families

    Web Page