National Redress Scheme (Question Time)
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:01): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking a question on the topic of the National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse to the minister representing the Minister for Child Protection.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: A constituent has contacted my office and spoken of their experience of trying to receive a direct personal response in the form of a public apology from the South Australian government as part of the National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse. The abuse that this person has suffered is not at all in question. In fact, the abuse that they suffered whilst under the so-called care of the South Australian government from the 1960s is well established. Their story, in fact, was one that compelled the South Australian government to undertake the Mullighan inquiry into the sexual abuse of South Australian children in state care.
The National Redress Scheme that followed sought to support those who had experienced institutional child sexual abuse. The South Australian government committed to being part of this scheme in January 2019. The scheme provides support for those impacted by institutional child sexual abuse. This support has a couple of forms, one of which is ‘a direct personal response’. This response takes the form of an apology. How this apology is received is up to the person who has suffered the abuse. The documentation from the Redress Scheme makes it clear to those applying that, ‘You can choose to have a senior person from the institution…make a public announcement.’
The constituent I have been speaking with is well known to the minister through our correspondence, but they are yet to receive any apology—written, verbal or public. They have been waiting years for an apology. This constituent has been told that they will not be receiving the public apology they have requested, and the reason they were given is that a 2008 speech given by a former Premier will have to do.
That speech was not for any one individual, it was a speech for all of those who were abused in state care. People who have suffered sexual abuse as children are not monoliths. They have individual experiences which have profound direct effects on their lives. To reject this person’s reasonable request is yet another failing of the South Australian government that they can add to the list.
Redress is important. Apologies matter. Each individual experience matters and that is why the National Redress Scheme sought to give victims the powers to say how they wanted to receive their apology. It’s important to empower victims in this process. My question to the minister representing the Minister for Child Protection is: when is the government going to adhere to this parliament’s commitment to the National Redress Scheme and provide public apologies, when requested, to the very people who suffered abuse while in the care—the so-called care—of our state?
The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:04): I am happy to answer the question for the honourable member. I think the area of apologies that I understand are given as part of the Redress Scheme does, as the honourable member correctly indicates, fall under the Department for Child Protection.
The administration of the scheme generally, through money that comes from the Victims of Crime Fund, sits under my department, the Attorney-General’s Department. I might even talk to the honourable member afterwards about the individual’s name and I am happy to take that up myself with my colleague.
The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:05): Supplementary: my office wrote to the Attorney-General’s office and the Minister for Child Protection and were referred to the Minister for Child Protection. This person has been waiting a long time for their apology. We cannot wait for this government to get their administration right.
The PRESIDENT: I don’t really think that’s a question; that’s more of a statement, so we will move on.