Sign on to Redress Scheme or lose funding, warns PM

Deadline is tomorrow

If religious institutions do not sign up to the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Sex Abuse by tomorrow, they could have funding pulled, as well as their charity status.

This stern warning was issued in a letter to 25 institutions (who were named in the Royal Commission) by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston. The letter reminded them to express their intention to join the scheme by the June 30 deadline.

“If you don’t want to sign up, then I won’t be signing any cheques.” – Scott Morrison

The letter described any failure to do so as “reprehensible”, adding that “all institutions are doing in not joining is doubling down on the hurt” felt by victims.

Religious institutions which have not yet signed on to the scheme have been publicly named and shamed on the National Redress Scheme website. They include: Jehovah’s Witnesses; numerous Catholic groups; Churches of Christ institutions; the Presbyterian Church in NSW and ACT, Tasmania and Western Australia; and the Seventh-Day Adventist church.

Among these, all have previously said they intend to join the scheme – apart from Jehovah’s Witnesses which has refused.

Other non-religious institutions are also yet to sign on, including Swimming Australia, Tennis NSW and Football NSW.

There are currently 103 applications from survivors on hold because the institutions they relate to have failed to sign up, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

From institutions which have signed on to the scheme, survivors will be able to access up to $150,000 in compensation, as well as an apology.

Most major churches are among the 222 non-government institutions which have already joined the scheme, including the Anglican Church, Uniting Church, Salvation Army, Baptist institutions and Hillsong.

For those who fail to express their intention to sign on to the scheme by tomorrow, the Prime Minister has made the repercussions even more clear in a radio interview on 2GB:

“Failure to sign up to this program means I will ensure that there’ll be no further public funding that they’ll be eligible for going forward.”

“I’m certainly prepared to do that and even prepared to consider their charitable status.

“If you don’t want to sign up, then I won’t be signing any cheques.”