The federal government has given institutions an extra eight years to sign up the to the National Redress Scheme, angering some survivors of institutional child sexual abuse
It is the second time the deadline has been extended, this time until 2028, a transcript of the parliamentary inquiry into the operation of the scheme shows.
An independent review of the scheme is due to be finished by the end of February which should canvass issues that include further ways to ensure institutions join the scheme.
Of the 158 institutions mentioned at the royal commission, three have not flagged their intention to join.
A further 16 have said they are intending to join but have not yet signed up, and there are 11 institutions that have been assessed as “unable to meet the legislative requirements”.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses is the only national organisation to declare they will not be joining.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has previously said he intends to strip organisations of their charitable status if they do not sign up.
The New Daily understand this will likely take place in the first half of 2021.
Jehovah’s Witnesses abuse survivor and advocate Lara Kaput said it felt like the government was “buying themselves time” while they decide how to handle institutions who have not signed up.
“There is no clear government strategy to make the Jehovah’s Witness leaders accountable that has been shared with survivors,” she said.
But Ms Kaput said this was not enough.
Calling them reprehensible is not enough. Taking away their charity status is not enough,” Ms Kaput said.
“Stopping their access to government funding, which they do not receive, is not relevant.”
Ms Kaput said it looked like the government was “not prepared”.
“We are really disappointed about the cut-off being delayed,” she said.
The government has defended the extension, saying it means survivors still to come forward can claim compensation.
Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston said it gave survivors the opportunity to name previously unnamed institutions.
This is absolutely not about letting institutions off the hook,” Senator Ruston said.
“What this change does is put the onus squarely on institutions to fulfil their moral obligation to survivors to own up to the wrongs of the past.”
But some lawyers have argued the extension will actually put child survivors off making a claim to the scheme.
Slater and Gordon Principal Lawyer Nick Hart said the scheme needed to be looking at delivering recognition and treatment for survivors who were waiting in limbo, at the very least, to enable them to be supported.
“It is imperative that what survivors went through is acknowledged and they are able to seek justice and redress. In many ways, justice delayed is justice denied,” Mr Hart said.
This delay may put survivors off making a claim, knowing they won’t have an entitlement to claim until the institution joins the scheme.”
Mr Hart said the three institutions who had not signified an intent to join should face the sanctions from the federal government sooner rather than later.
“What institute should require seven years? We should be saying ‘if you don’t join, you need to nominate a funder of last resort’,” he said.
“These are people we should be assisting in our community. These are the survivors who need to be given a fair go by ensuring no one has been left behind.”