The South Australian Labor government has said it will not back Bill Shorten’s plan for a national compensation scheme for abuse survivors unless it is “fully-funded”.
The scheme announced by the federal opposition leader on Tuesday requires multi-million dollar contributions from the states and territories which ran the institutions where thousands of children were abused for decades.
SA Attorney-General John Rau has told AAP that as the state had its own scheme it would not be part of a national scheme where it would hand over powers to the commonwealth and pay a share of the estimated $4.3 billion needed to fund it for ten years.
“We would welcome a fully-funded Commonwealth redress scheme,” Mr Rau said.
Mr Rau drew wide criticism when he described the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as “Johnny-come-latelies” when it recommended a national scheme run by the federal government as the best option to provide justice for tens of thousands of abuse survivors.
Under the scheme, which Mr Shorten vowed to put in place if Labor returns to power at the next election, the federal government would provide $33 million seed funding and the institutions – government and non-government – who ran the schools, homes and orphanages where children were abuse would fund the rest.
In a submission to the royal commission last March, SA outlined its redress scheme which provides for an average payment of $14,400 to an abuse victim with a cap of $50,000 for the worst cases of abuse.
The scheme that Mr Shorten has backed would see an average payment of $65,000 and a cap of $200,000.
Based on the commission’s modelling for a national scheme to cover more than 60,000 victims – it is anticipate there will be more – the South Australia government would need to contribute $90 million and non-state institutions in SA, the Salvation Army among them, would be up for $193 million.
$4 million of the SA government’s payment into a national scheme would be for administration costs.
The national scheme would cover counselling, ongoing health care and monetary compensation for eligible claimants.