Government acts against organisations that don’t participate in the National Redress Scheme
07 December 2020
The Federal Government is taking steps to sanction organisations that don’t participate in the National Redress Scheme for victims of institutional child sexual abuse.
The National Redress Scheme (Scheme) was created in response to recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (Royal Commission).
Institutions named in the Royal Commission (or named in an application made to the Scheme) were required to confirm their intention to join the Scheme by 30 June 2020 and are required to join the Scheme by 31 December 2020.
A new governance standard
In an announcement on 27 November, the Federal Government outlined its plan to give the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) the power to deregister a charity which doesn’t take reasonable steps to participate in the Scheme. This will be done by creating an additional governance standard in the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013 (Cth).
This new governance standard will require registered charities to take all reasonable steps to become a participating non-government institution in the Scheme if a claim has been, or is likely to be, made against them under the Scheme.
Treasury are seeking submissions on the proposed new governance standard from 7 December 2020 to 8 January 2021. The draft regulations, an explanatory statement and guidelines on writing submissions in response are published on the Treasury website.
Exclusion of certain institutions from the basic religious charity definition
In another measure targeting institutions which have been named in an application made to the Scheme but which refuse to join the Scheme, the definition of a basic religious charity (BRC) in the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth) will be amended to exclude from eligibility religious institutions that have been named in an application to the Scheme but refuse to join.
The ACNC, in a press release on 27 November 2020, quotes ACNC Commissioner the Hon Dr Gary Johns, ‘Affected charities risk losing charity registration and access to a range of Commonwealth charity tax concessions, which is a serious penalty’ and ‘I am pleased to note that out of more than 58,000 Australian charities only a very small number are likely to be affected.’
The Victorian Government confirmed its support for the proposed sanctions in a press release on 30 November, in which Attorney-General Jill Hennessy says ‘Victoria welcomes the new sanctions – and we will continue to advocate for a simple, fast and trauma-informed pathway for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse to access redress.’
We will follow the consultation process on the proposed new governance standard as well as the progress of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2020 Measures No. 6) Bill 2020. Subscribe to our newsletter to make sure you keep up with these changes.
For more information about the Scheme, see the National Redress Scheme website.