Who can apply?
You can apply to the National Redress Scheme if:
- you experienced sexual abuse when you were a child (under 18 years of age) and
- the abuse happened before 1 July 2018, and
- an institution was responsible for bringing you into contact with the person who abused you, and
- you were born before 30 June 2010, and
- you are an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
Your application may be processed differently if you:
- were abused in an institution that hasn’t joined the National Redress Scheme
- are under 18
- have ever been sentenced to more than 5 years in gaol or
- have already received a payment related to the abuse
You cannot apply if you:
- are in gaol (you can apply once you are released or in exceptional circumstances)
- have already applied for redress through the National Redress Scheme
You cannot access redress if you:
- did not suffer sexual abuse
- have already received a court-ordered payment from the institution
If you want to apply, you can also think about:
- Circumstances that might affect how your application is processed
- Other options if you don't apply for redress
- Other questions that may help
Circumstances that might affect how your application is processed
Depending on your circumstances, your application may be progressed to assessment differently. These circumstances include if you:
- are currently under 18
- experienced institutional child sexual abuse after 1 July 2018
- have been sentenced to serve 5 years or more in gaol
- are in gaol
- already received a payment for the abuse as a result of a court case
Currently aged under 18 years
You need to be aged 18 years or older to accept an offer of redress. This rule avoids children having to make legal decisions before they are old enough to understand all of their options.
If you are aged under 18 years, you can apply for redress if you will turn 18 before 30 June 2028. After you have applied, the National Redress Scheme will conduct a preliminary assessment of your application, which may help you decide whether you want to wait for redress or pursue other options. The National Redress Scheme team will contact you about what you may be able to access through the Scheme, but it is not a formal offer.
After you turn 18, the National Redress Scheme team will contact you again to ask if you want to go ahead with your application or withdraw it. If you choose to proceed, your application will then be assessed. Offers may differ from the preliminary assessment as individual circumstances may change.
In the meantime, you can access Redress Support Services. These include legal support services, which can help you understand the legal rights of children.
Experienced institutional child sexual abuse after 1 July 2018
Redress is about making amends for wrongs that have happened in the past. This is why the National Redress Scheme has been established for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse before 1 July 2018, when the Scheme started.
People who experience child sexual abuse after the Scheme’s commencement on 1 July 2018 will not be able to access redress through the Scheme. Other legal options may be available, such as civil litigation.
Have been sentenced to serve 5 years or more in gaol
The assessment process will be different if you have been convicted of a crime in Australia or overseas and sentenced to serve 5 years or more in imprisonment.
If this is your circumstance, you will be asked to provide details about the nature of your offence, the sentence and your rehabilitation. Your application will also be reviewed:
- by the Attorney-General in the participating state or territory where the abuse occurred,
- by the Attorney-General in the state or territory where you were convicted of the offence and sentenced (if this is different), and/or
- by the Commonwealth Attorney-General if the offence and sentencing occurred overseas.
These Attorneys-General will be requested to provide advice to support or deny your application. The National Redress Scheme will consider all the Attorneys-Generals' submissions about your application before making a decision to allow your application to be processed to assessment. The National Redress Scheme's Operator will also take into account:
- community expectations
- the nature of your offence and the length of imprisonment it carried
- the period of time since you committed the offence and your rehabilitation since then, and
- any other relevant information.
If your application is progressed, the Independent Decision Maker will then make an assessment.
Currently in gaol
In most cases, people cannot apply to the National Redress Scheme while they are in gaol. You will be able to apply to the National Redress Scheme once you are released from gaol.
Gaol includes a prison, youth training centre, remand, and community correction centre.
There are some limited exceptions when an application may be accepted. For example, if you will not be released from gaol until after the Scheme closes or if you will be too ill to make an application after being released.
Have received redress through another scheme
Previous payments can affect the redress payment you are offered. This includes payments from other redress schemes and Victims of Crime schemes or out of court settlements.
If the payments don't relate to the abuse in your application, they won't be considered.
Otherwise, the value of any earlier payment will be deducted from the Redress payment. Any earlier payments will be adjusted to today's value. This will be done using an annual inflation rate of 1.9%. For example, a payment of $40,000 made 10 years ago would be adjusted to $48,283.84 in 2018. If you signed an agreement not to speak about your abuse or ask for any more money you can still apply. An institution cannot legally stop you from applying for or receiving redress through the National Redress Scheme. To get free legal advice, you can also call knowmore on 1800 605 762.
Have received a payment from the institution you will be applying about, as a result of a court case
If you have already been to court about the abuse that occurred, and the court made a ruling on your case, including awarding damages for the abuse, you cannot apply to the National Redress Scheme for redress from the institution that has already paid you compensation.
You can still make an application about other institutions or abuse where no court ruling has been made.
If you have received an out-of-court settlement or other redress scheme payments, you can still apply.
Other options if you don't apply for redress
There are other options. For example, you might be able to take civil action. This is where you sue an institution through the courts. You can apply for redress and you might also be able to apply for a victims of crime compensation payment. To get free legal advice, you can also call knowmore on 1800 605 762.
You can report the abuse to the Police. You can still do this if you apply for the National Redress Scheme
Other questions that may help
What happens if someone dies after they apply?
If someone dies after making a complete application, and they are made an offer of redress, their estate can receive their redress payment.
Beneficiaries or an executor can contact the National Redress Scheme team to arrange this.
The counselling and direct personal response components of redress will not be passed on, or be made available to others.
Can I apply for someone who has died?
No, you can't apply on behalf of a person who has died.
What if an institution where I was abused no longer exists?
The National Redress Scheme allows for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse in relation to an institution that no longer exists to access redress in certain circumstances.
In cases where a government and a non-government institution were both responsible for the abuse, and that non-government institution no longer exists, the government can agree to pay the share of redress of that institution. An example might be where a state government placed a child in a “care” arrangement run by a non-government institution. If that non-government institution no longer exists, the state government could provide the full amount of redress to that person.
The government cannot choose to provide redress on behalf of an institution that no longer exists where it did not also have responsibility for the abuse.
Non-government institutions that are participating in the Scheme are able to provide redress for other non-government institutions that no longer exist, where there is, or used to be, a relationship between the two institutions. An example might be where a religious institution that exists today, may choose to provide redress for an institution that was once part of their religious order, but no longer exists today.
The Scheme asks every government and non-government institution to think about these sorts of situations. When institutions join the Scheme they provide a list of their related institutions that no longer exist that will still be covered under the Scheme.
- The National Redress Scheme has a list of institutions that are participating in the Scheme that includes some institutions that no longer exist, but it is not exhaustive.
- If an institution is not listed, the Scheme will investigate to see if there is another participating institutions who can take on responsibility.
Does it matter where I live now, or where the abuse took place?
Access to redress is based on where the abuse occurred, and the institution responsible. Where you live now does not affect your ability to get access to the National Redress Scheme.
What if I was in foster care?
Every foster care situation is different. Institutions may be responsible for abuse that happened in foster care in certain situations. This will depend on whether an Independent Decision Maker finds that an institution was responsible for the abuser having contact with the person. An Independent Decision Maker will consider each application on a case-by-case basis.
If a person was placed into foster care by an institution and the institution was the person’s legal guardian, then that institution could be considered responsible. An example of this is if a ward of the state was placed with foster carers by a state government department.
If a person was placed into foster care through informal arrangements, then an institution may not be considered responsible. An example of this is if a person was placed with the consent of the parent into a relative’s care.
Words used on this page
- The application is available online or by paper. You can make an application at any time between now and 30 June 2027.
- An Attorney-General is the government Minister responsible for the Law.
- Australian citizens and permanent residents
- This means someone who is legally a citizen of Australia or holds a permanent resident visa. If you are unsure of your citizenship or visa status.
- A child is a person under the age of 18.
- Child Sexual Abuse
- Under the Scheme, child sexual abuse is when someone involves a person under the age of 18 in sexual activities that they do not understand, or that are against community standards.
- Gaol includes: Prison (pending trial or sentencing), Remand Centres, Youth Training Centre, and Community Correction Centres.
- Independent Decision Maker
- Independent Decision makers will consider applications for redress. They will be highly experienced people from a range of backgrounds.
- An institution means an organisation, such as a school, a church, parish, mission, a club, an orphanage or Children’s Home; or government department.
- Institutional Child Sexual Abuse
- When the child sexual abuse occurred, for example, on the premises of an institution, or where activities of an institution took place (such as a camp), or by an official of an institution.
- National Redress Scheme
- The Australian Government set up the National Redress Scheme to provide redress to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. The offer of redress can include: access to counselling, a redress payment and a direct personal response.
- A person nominated to act on behalf of a person applying for redress. They need to fill in the Redress Nominee Form.
- Permanent resident
- Someone who can stay in Australia permanently.
- Redress means acknowledging harm done. The National Redress Scheme will provide redress by providing access to counselling, a direct personal response and a redress payment.
- If you do not agree with a decision we make, you can ask us to look at it again. This is done by a different Independent Decision Maker.
- The National Redress Scheme for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. See National Redress Scheme.
- To stop an application being considered by the Independent Decision Maker and National Redress Scheme.