Have you recently applied for payment through the National Redress Scheme? The Royal Commission on sexual abuse was instrumental in changing child abuse laws in Australia. A key result from the commission is the National Redress Scheme which was created to provide victims of institutional child sexual abuse with compensation. Nothing can erase the pain of the abuse victims suffered at the hands of people they trusted, but the NRS can help you cover the costs of therapy as well as a claim for loss of earnings (either past or present).
Just because you applied for National Redress Scheme payments does not mean that you need to accept the offer if it's less than you expected. Before you accept an offer, whether you're disappointed with it or not, you should seek advice from a solicitor. With a lawyer for a child abuse case, you can determine whether filing a damages claim is a better course of action for you. While the NRS payments are capped at $150,000 for the worst cases of abuse, there is no cap with damages claims. The Judge who presides over your case will look at other sexual abuse claims payments and awards using this as a guide.
Once an offer has been made you have a time limit, you will find the expiry date of your offer on the first page of the letter you were sent. Upon receiving an offer you have three options available to you:
- You can accept/decline the offer.
- You can request a review of the offer.
- You can apply for a revocation of the decision. This will not be available if you accept/decline the offer.
You should always seek legal advice before you make your final decision. You do not have to accept a disappointing offer, especially since accepting said offer means you no longer have the right to start/continue legal proceedings against the institution. Your decision requires careful consideration which is why it's so important to take legal advice.
If you choose to decline the offer you forfeit your right to reapply or pursue another line of action. If you do not respond to the offer before the expiry date it will be accepted as a declination of the offer. This means you will not receive a redress payment, a response from the institution responsible for the abuse, or counselling.
If you are disappointed with your offer or do not agree with the NRS decision, you can submit a review request in writing or via a telephone call. You must lodge this review request before your offer expiry date.
The review will be undertaken by a different person who made the initial compensation offer. This Independent Decision Maker can only review the information available, you do not have the option to submit additional information or evidence. There are three possible results from a review:
- The offer is reconfirmed.
- The offer is lowered.
- The offer is increased.
If you disagree with the offer from the National Redress Scheme you may be able to have the decision revoked. This would require significant additional information regarding your abuse that you did not originally include in your initial application. Having the decision successfully revoked means that you can reapply to the scheme using the additional information before they make a final decision. You must do this before the offer expiry date. Again, this will require legal advice to ensure you follow the process correctly.
You can receive free help in your application process. These services can offer you information, support, and assistance with completing the application. These services were selected specifically because of the childhood trauma in adults as a result of abuse and they are skilled in handling sensitive situations and information.
If you require support immediately, you can reach out for help:
- You can call Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 24/7 or chat online between 11 am and 12 am daily.
- You can call the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
- With Lifeline, you can call 13 11 14, chat online, or text.
- You can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or chat online, both available 24/7.
- You can call Sexual Assault Counselling Australia on 1800 211 028.
If you would like legal advice on how best to pursue compensation via the National Redress Scheme, you wish to make a damages claim, or you want to discuss an offer, then please contact AJB Stevens today. The legal system isn't easy to navigate and professional minds can help ensure you understand your options so that you can make the right choice for you. We don't just provide you with information, we will offer you advice and compassion too.