Australia makes financial aid available to victims of sex abuse, terrorism

2016-11-04 06:59:32 GMT2016-11-04 14:59:32(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

by Matt Goss

CANBERRA, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Australian government has announced that it will provide substantial monetary assistance to victims of both terrorism and child sex abuse.

George Brandis, Australia's Attorney General (AG), on Friday announced a Commonwealth Redress scheme for victims of institutional child sex abuse who will be eligible for a one-off payment of up to 114,000 U.S. dollars under the scheme.

"Today's announcement is delivering on the Coalition's commitment to strive to ensure redress is provided for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse across Australia by the responsible institutions," Christian Porter, Minister for Social Services, said in a media release on Friday.

"This is about institutions making amends and recognizing the harm that has been caused to children in their care."

Brandis said Australia's six states and two territories would be invited to opt-in' to the scheme on the "responsible entity pays" basis recommended by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

"We have spent many months consulting states, territories and institutions about how we can work together to deliver redress to ensure just outcomes for survivors," Brandis said.

While the Federal government cannot force the states and territories to participate in the redress scheme, Brandis said he would work closely with all parties to work towards maximizing national consistency.

"The government acknowledges that survivors across the country need and deserve equal access and treatment," Brandis said.

"That is why the government is taking the lead and setting up a Commonwealth scheme to provide redress for survivors of child sexual abuse in Commonwealth institutions, and inviting states, territories and other non-government institutions to join."

Victims of child sex abuse will also be entitled to psychological counselling via the redress scheme if they seek it.

Brandis said an independent advisory council made up of survivor groups, legal and psychological experts would be established to provide the government with advice on implementing the scheme which will be functional by 2018.

In a separate announcement, Brandis said that the terrorist attack in Nice in July had been officially declared a 'terrorist act' by the government, making the five Australians who were injured eligible for an one-off payment of up to 57,000 U.S. dollars under the Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment (AVTOP) scheme.

On July 14, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a 19 ton cargo truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in the popular French tourist town of Nice, killing 86 people and injuring 434.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was killed by French police in the wake of the attack after he failed to comply with orders.

"The Australian government condemns the terrorist attack and extends our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families," Brandis said in a media release on Friday.

"The declaration brings the total number of overseas terrorist acts declared by the Australian government and for which Australian residents can receive financial assistance under Australian Victim of Terrorism Overseas Payment (AVTOP) to 12.

"The Australian government's AVTOP scheme ensures Australian victims of terrorist events overseas have access to the same kind of financial support that states and territories provide to victims of crime in Australia. It is an important acknowledgement of the pain and suffering experienced by these victims of terrorism."