Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 30 November 2017) . . Page.. 5419 ..
MS CHEYNE: Attorney-General, how is the government working to ensure that survivors of sexual abuse are supported through a national redress scheme?
MR RAMSAY: I thank Ms Cheyne for the supplementary question. Ensuring that the court process treats survivors fairly is critical but obviously we need to go further. This government is committed to a restorative policy and is focused on helping survivors get any support they need. That support should be the same no matter where a person lives. That is why we are participating in the development of a national redress scheme. The royal commission provided us with a well-developed framework for responding to the institutional failings that have exposed so many people to abuse. We are currently participating in a working group with the commonwealth and with other states and territories to develop a redress scheme that is fair and that respects the experiences and the needs of survivors.
The model that is under development will offer redress to people who were abused in an institutional context as children. A key feature of the work is to ensure that responsible institutions take full responsibility and offer an unreserved apology for the failings that allowed for the abuse to occur. The importance of taking full responsibility cannot be understated. Compensation, counselling and other support services are all, at their core, really a recognition that survivors were let down through no fault of their own and that they are entitled to be made whole. The ACT government recognises the vital importance of redress, and we will keep working with other jurisdictions to develop a national scheme.
MR STEEL: Attorney-General, what steps has the ACT already taken that form part of the royal commission’s recommendations?
MR RAMSAY: I thank Mr Steel for the supplementary question. As the royal commission brings its work to a conclusion, it is important to remember that so much work has already been done. Here in the ACT, an important step to help survivors seek compensation has already been undertaken. In 2016 the ACT government made amendments to the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 and the Limitation Act 1985 to expressly remove limitation periods for personal injury resulting from the institutional sexual abuse of a child. This year the ACT government listened to community feedback and then removed limitation periods for personal injury resulting from the sexual abuse of a child, no matter what the context was. These amendments, which apply retrospectively, recognise the length of time that it can take survivors of child sexual abuse to disclose that abuse, and significantly improve access to justice.
This government recognises that a comprehensive, considered approach to the royal commission’s recommendations needs to happen. And it needs to address all of the areas that the royal commission considered important. Across the government, and across all of the areas considered by the royal commission, we are working hard to turn what the royal commission has learned about responding to abuse into action.
MR PARTON: My question is to the Deputy Clerk; no, it is not. I wish it was.