‘Too slow’: MP criticises progress of ‘vital’ scheme
THE sluggish pace of the National Redress Scheme has been criticised by a federal MP.
In a speech commemorating the anniversary of the national apology to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, former deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek spoke of Casino man Robbie Gambley, an abuse survivor who's awaiting a decision on his redress claim.
"Robbie waited for more than 40 years to hear those all-important words: 'We believe you'," Ms Plibersek said in a motion in the Federation Chamber on December 3.
"The most important job we have as human beings is to protect the next generation," she said.
"The royal commission was a stunning insight into just how poorly we had done."
But the commission and the process that's followed has been causing further hurt, from the "re-traumatisation of giving evidence to the royal commission" to the wait for redress, she said.
Ms Plibersek said the redress scheme, a "vital recommendation from the royal commission", had not been good enough.
"The redress scheme was enacted too slowly and it is operating too slowly now," she said.
"Only 600 payments out of more than 5000 applications have been processed as of last month, just over 10 per cent.
"That's just too slow.
"Institutions that have not yet signed up should be absolutely ashamed of themselves."
One institution that was early to join the scheme was the Australian Defence Force, but that hasn't helped to expedite things for Vernon Wilson, a Goonellabah man whose application was lodged nine months ago and is in limbo while he's living with terminal lung cancer.
Mr Gambley said Ms Plibersek's words had made him emotional.
"I think it's a beautiful speech," he said.
He stressed he was "not being political" but of "probably 20 politicians" he'd written to, Ms Plibersek was among the few who acknowledged his story.
In her speech, Ms Plibersek said she'd kept a photograph she received from Mr Gambley - one from his childhood before the abuse - on her desk as she conducted work relating to the royal commission.
"He was so phenomenally brave to share his story, not just with the royal commission but with the media as well," she said.