The National Redress Scheme was established in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, to support those who experienced child sexual abuse through an institution. ACS Mutual has applied for Participation Group Status as part of the National Redress Scheme. ACS Financial has developed for ACS Mutual a unique insurance cover for its members specifically for Redress claims. Joining the Redress Scheme enables churches, institutions and schools to provide support for survivors of child sexual abuse where they may previously not have had the financial resources to do so on their own.
After extensive negotiations, ACS Mutual’s unique insurance arrangement is in the final stages of the approval process enabling ACS Mutual to become a Participating Group under the National Redress Scheme for Institutional Child Abuse Act 2018. This paves the way for ACS Mutual members including churches, ministries and schools, to opt-in to the National Redress Scheme and receive protection for any redress claims.
This avoids the need for members to opt-in on their own, and therefore provide their own assets as security for any claims paid. This protection is unique in Australia in relation to Redress Scheme participation.
Q: What is the National Redress Scheme?
The National Redress Scheme is a Scheme that has been created in response to recommendations by the Royal Commission after listening to cases of over 8,000 people about the abuse they experienced as children.
The National Redress Scheme acknowledges the fact that many children were sexually abused in Australian institutions and aims to recognise the suffering they endured because of this abuse. It is estimated that as many as 60,000 people could be able to claim under this scheme. It also aims to alleviate the impact of past institutional child sexual abuse and related abuse by:
• Providing long awaited justice for the survivors of that abuse;
• Providing a monetary payment to survivors as a tangible means of acknowledging the wrongs that survivors have suffered
• Providing access to much-needed counselling and psychological services to survivors; and
• Facilitating a direct personal response to survivors from the participating institutions responsible.
This system is a voluntary “Opt-In” system where an institution may choose to accept the redress processes and protocols established in the legislation. It does not cover incidents of abuse after the introduction of the Scheme on 1st of July 2018.
Q: Why do we need to be a part of it?
In a community, we are all responsible for the safety and protection of the vulnerable and no one is immune from risk. We often hear the words “It won’t happen to us, we have checks, systems and practices in place” or “We are a family church, it can’t happen.” Unfortunately, we also hear: “We didn’t think it could happen to us! What do we do? We had no idea this could happen – how could we be liable?”
While it’s vital to have effective Risk Management protocols such as Working With Children and Safer Churches practices, having the capacity to now contribute financially and emotionally to the survivors’ healing process has become an option, should the survivor choose that path and the responsible institution has opted in. This is beneficial for all parties, as it can avoid the adversarial and costly nature of the legal system, which can inflict further damage.
Opting-in provides a compassionate and fair process for people who have been abused and will communicate an emphatic statement that you are taking responsibility for any abuse that has occurred in the past. It is also a powerful public declaration to the community regarding what your church stands for. ACS Financial has enabled it’s members to opt-in via ACS Mutual, which is the only realistic way that many churches, ministries and schools can do this without the need for members to provide their own assets as security for any claims paid.
Q: What does it mean for your Organisation?
This means that any costs incurred by your organisation as a result of a matter being dealt with through the Redress System will be covered by the Participating Group, ACS Mutual, as long as you are a Mutual member. From our vantage point, participation in the scheme is fast becoming the standard upon which institutions will be judged. There is also significant political pressure being deployed both by the community and governments to ensure as many organisations as possible join the scheme. This is an important opportunity for our churches and schools to lead by example and make a tangible statement in relation to our nation’s response to child sexual abuse.
Q: What are the consequences if I’m not part of it?
If you choose not to opt-in to Redress, you will likely be in a minority group of churches within Australia to respond with silence to this strong national initiative, geared toward survivors of child sexual abuse occurring in the past within our nation’s institutions. If you choose to opt-in to Redress, being covered and supported by ACS Mutual is very important when faced with abuse incidents from the past, whether dealt with through Redress or civil proceedings. We work closely with our clients to provide appropriate advice and clear communication to ensure positive outcomes for both the organisation and other involved parties.
Opting in to Redress as a client of ACS Financial as opposed to opting in separately means you don’t have to risk your own organisation’s assets for peace of mind. Our arrangements for our members are unique and ensure that you are properly covered and supported in the event of Redress. We encourage you to respond firmly and decisively and utilise the cover and mechanism that we have created for you to do this in a financially feasible manner.
Q: How are Churches and Schools able to be a part of the program?
The ACS Mutual Participating Group will soon be commencing an ‘Onboarding’ process as prescribed by the rules of the Redress Scheme.
In practice, this is a process that involves a formal acknowledgement of your church or school agreeing to be part of the Redress Scheme as an associate of the ACS Mutual Participating Group. Further, it will require the identification of each entity in both its informal and legal name. For example, a church may be known as ‘The ABC Church of North Sydney’ but its legal name could be ‘ABC Church Limited’.
Q: What will opting in to the Scheme cost us?
The cost to an individual church will vary based on historical experience, organisational size and activities. There will be a very reasonable annual levy charged to ACS Mutual members for participation, and in return you will receive cover for any claims paid by ACS Mutual on behalf of your organisation. In addition, ACS Mutual will charge an retention (excess) per claim and will seek recovery from the individual institution on the following basis:
1. Standard contribution $5,000 per claim;
2. For claims that predate 1995, $7,500 per claim; and,
3. For matters relating to either a Known Offender or a matter that was known to the Institution but not reported to ACS Mutual or other insurers, a contribution of $25,000 per claim will apply.
The Redress Scheme anticipates that the average claim amount settled within the scheme will be approx. $70,000 but can be up to $150,000 per claim per person.
Should your organisation require financial assistance to meet any deductible cost relating to a claim, ACS Mutual will consider payment terms over 10 monthly instalments (nominal funding charges may apply).
Q: How long will the Scheme operate for?
The Scheme commenced on the 1st of July 2018 and will run for ten years. It is important to note that the Redress Scheme only relates to historical child abuse that occurred prior to 1st of July 2018. Any matter that occurs after this date and any matter that results in the claimant seeking a civil recourse via our court system will be dealt with in the normal manner by your ACS Mutual General Public Liability Protection.
Q: What will happen next?
If you are a client of ACS Financial and an existing member of ACS Mutual, we will soon be sending you an online Opt-in Declaration Form. This will clearly identify your decision to Opt-in. A vast majority of our Mutual members are expected to Opt-in and the next step will be the completion of an online information questionnaire.
This will be pre-populated with information that we currently have about your institution. We will ask you to confirm the information and add any additional details where prompted.
We will also be seeking a formal declaration of any known claims or incidents that could give rise to a claim. This should be familiar to you as it reflects the current request in our Mutual Declaration Form, sent to all ACS Mutual members on an annual basis.
As soon as we have a suitable number of ACS Mutual Members ready to Opt-in, we will be submitting the details to the Redress Manager at DSS who will prepare a Ministerial proclamation, after which, your institution’s name will be listed on the Redress website, confirming you are part of the National Redress Scheme.
If you have any queries in relation to this matter, please do not hesitate to contact ACS Financial on 1800 646 777.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website reflect some of the commercial aspects and potential risks/obligations for your Church or School.
The information is given as a guide only and does not represent a definitive list or legal view in any way shape or form.
You are advised to seek your own professional advice on all your individual needs.
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