An abuse victim got $50,000 through the redress scheme. He fought on, and settled for $500,000

A victim of historical sexual abuse at the former Bayswater Boys’ Home has reached a $500,000 settlement with the Salvation Army, after receiving just $50,000 under the National Redress Scheme.

The case raises significant concerns about the capacity of the redress scheme to adequately compensate victims of historical abuse. Under the scheme, payments are capped at $150,000 and require recipients to waive their legal rights to sue the organisation involved.

Geoff, who asked for his surname not to be used because he is a victim of sexual assault, was initially sent to the former Baltara Reception Centre in Parkside, in Melbourne’s north-east, which provided accommodation for boys involved in minor offending or who were wards of the state.

He was transferred to the Bayswater Boys’ Home in about 1971, where he was abused by three staff members over almost four years.

Geoff’s lawyer, Cameron Doig from Arnold Thomas & Becker, accused many institutions responsible for child sexual abuse of supporting the NRS because it saved them money and reduced their exposure to liability for historical wrongdoing.

“The NRS pays vulnerable Australians an average of less than $90,000 for a lifetime of suffering caused by child sexual abuse,” Doig said.

“This is grossly inadequate and takes advantage of applicants’ lack of understanding of their rights. The scheme offered [Geoff] barely 10 per cent of what we were ultimately able to secure as compensation.”

Doig said survivors were required to permanently sign away their rights to sue the institution, similar to the Catholic Church’s contentious redress scheme known as the Melbourne Response, which also caps payments at $150,000.

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