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Sue Crittall Photo: Supplied

Interim Redress Scheme to right the wrongs

Following early recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Queensland Synod developed and implemented its Interim Redress Scheme. During the first six months of this scheme, the survivors have been reporting positive outcomes, Journey reports.

Designed to be a genuine alternative for survivors not seeking common law damages, the Queensland Synod’s Interim Redress Scheme signifies the church will not hide from the real truth regarding child sexual abuse, but instead address the issues and challenges with compassion and humility.

Sue Crittall—Interim Redress Scheme Panel member and part of the Synod’s Royal Commission Task Group—says the scheme’s processes directly enable survivors to be heard and believed, and that there are many supports for those who come forward.

“The Interim Redress Scheme is a part of the Synod recognising, saying sorry, and providing support and assistance to people (including a monetary payment) who were sexually abused when they were children while in the care of the church.”

For the Synod’s moderator, Rev David Baker it is a vital pastoral response to the people who have suffered greatly.

“Nothing can turn back the hands of time, but we can demonstrate that we are sorry for what has happened, and that we are committed to helping people find a brighter and more reconciled future. Our experience of hearing the stories of people who have suffered, and the truth of the gospel makes establishing this an imperative.”

The scheme’s three-member panel (members are selected from an 11-person group on a rotational basis) is external to the Uniting Church and meets on a monthly basis to review applicant information to determine whether interim redress applies. And while there is no escaping the grim reality of the scheme’s raison d’être, positive benefits are now reaching survivors.

Interim Redress coordinator Anne Wemyss says, “A number of those who have been through the Interim Redress Scheme have written to the Interim Redress Panel, via the Synod, to thank them for their understanding and compassion.

“They have felt heard by the panel, who have listened to them tell their story in their own time and in their own way. Some participants have provided feedback around feeling like a weight has lifted from their shoulders; others have spoken of being able to reconnect with a childhood that they had long ago buried in their memories.”

To support the scheme’s work, it is imperative that church members acknowledge the truth about child abuse within the faith community, its schools and out-of-home care facilities, and continue to recommend the scheme to those impacted.

“Ministers and pastoral carers are at the coalface of where people will disclose stories about their lives or the lives of people in their circle of care,” says David Baker. “So it is important that they know about the scheme and have confidence to recommend it to people.”

To make an application or find out more about the Interim
Redress Scheme, please phone 1800 874 995 or visit
ucaqld.com.au/interim-redress

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