Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Abuse by Children and Young People
The information in this section may raise issues for you or someone you know, or bring up past experiences and trauma. Children and young people with disability and caregivers may need to talk to someone, when they are ready to do so. A range of free support services are available.
If you are in an emergency situation needing immediate support, please contact emergency services by calling 000 (triple zero).
For other supports, please contact one of these services:
Sadly, we know that abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability happens in all the places where they live their everyday lives – including in their homes, schools, playgrounds, libraries, swim centres and local shops.
Children and young people are often considered ‘vulnerable’ to harm because of their age – those with disability particularly so. Simply having a disability doesn’t increase the risk of harm occurring. But the risk is increased by some of the things people with disability commonly experience as a result of having a greater reliance on others for care and support, being socially isolated, and lacking a trusted adult or a way to communicate with someone who can help.
Image description: Boy sitting down with knees up and face hidden
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, held between 2012 and 2017, was established in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children in institutional contexts that had been emerging in Australia for many years. Throughout the course of the Royal Commission, commissioners listened to the personal stories of more than 8000 survivors and read more than 1000 written accounts. A total of 4.3 per cent of survivors told the Royal Commission they had disability at the time of the abuse.
The National Redress Scheme provides support to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. It was established following the findings of the Royal Commission.
The Scheme began on 1 July 2018 and will run for 10 years.
People need to be aged 18 years and over to accept an offer of redress. Children under 18 are eligible to apply for redress if the child turns 18 before the end of the scheme in June 2028.
The National Redress Scheme can provide three things:
It is an individual's choice about whether they would like to receive some or all of these components.
All states and territories and key non-government organisations such as the Catholic, Anglican and Uniting churches, the Salvation Army, YMCA and Scouts have agreed to join the Scheme.
Our booklet on the National Redress Scheme (produced in collaboration with Child Wise) is available for download in our 'Resources' section of the website, under 'Factsheets' (it can also be found under the 'Resources' section at the end of this page).
For the latest news and updates about the Redress Scheme, please visit the National Redress Scheme website.
information about free and confidential services that can assist you with an application, and further information about the Redress Scheme, can be found here.
No. An individual can only make one application for redress under the Redress Scheme, even if there was more than one instance of abuse. This is why it is important to speak with people who can assist you with your application. Please call or email us for more information, or contact knowmore, the free legal advisory service.
An individual can submit an application as long as they will turn 18 before 30 June 2028.
In this case, you will receive a preliminary assessment of your application, which may help you decide whether you would like to wait for redress or pursue other options. After you turn 18, the National Redress Scheme team will contact you again to ask if you want to proceed 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.
Individuals must be 18 years or older to accept an offer of redress.
It is normal to feel nervous, confused or distressed about the idea of applying to the National Redress Scheme. There is information on the Scheme's website for people who are thinking about applying, or you can contact us for some preliminary information and a referral.
The application process has been designed with the intention to not cause further distress, but there still might be times when this process may be difficult. Free, confidential support services are available to help you before, during and after applying.
For you to access redress, the institution or organisation responsible for the abuse must have joined the National Redress Scheme. The list of institutions that have joined the Scheme, or intend to join, is updated regularly. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
knowmore is an independent service giving free legal advice to survivors of abuse by providing them with information about the justice and redress options that may be available to them.
knowmore helps people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse, and anyone contacting them on their behalf. This means people who were sexually abused at school, in a sporting club, children’s service, orphanage, foster care, residential care, religious organisation, government organisation or any organisation that was involved with children.
For more information or to speak with someone for advice or assistance please visit the knowmore website or contact them on 1800 605 762.
There is legislation around the National Redress Scheme that sets out how your information is protected. There are strict rules about how the information in your application can be used. People who use or share your information inappropriately can be jailed or fined. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
There are free, confidential and independent support services available to assist:
You can access these services at any time when considering applying for redress, if you are applying for redress, or if you are considering an offer of redress. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
When the National Redress Scheme team receives your application they will phone you to let you know they have it. At that time they may also ask you for more information if needed.
An Independent Decision Maker will consider your application for redress. The assessment may take some time to complete.
You may want to think about who could give you some support if you need it. This could be someone you already know and trust or Redress Support Services can help.
More information about the application process and what happens next is available on the Redress Scheme website.
The National Redress Scheme will call you and send you a letter about the outcome of your application. If your application for redress is approved, you will receive an offer letter. The offer letter will explain all of your options, including accepting or declining an offer or asking for a review of the outcome of your application.
If you do not agree with the outcome you can request a review. You need to apply for a review within six months of the date of the letter explaining the outcome. For more information please visit the Redress Scheme website.
Redress payments are not counted as income for the purpose of any pension or benefit under the Social Security Act 1991, the Veterans' Entitlements Act 1986, and the income tax assessment act. This includes pensions and benefits such as the Age Pension, JobSeeker, Disability Support Pension and Family Tax Benefit.
This means a redress payment will not be counted as income for the purposes of calculating a Centrelink pension or benefit. However, the redress payment may be counted as an asset (see below for more information).
For people who already receive a Centrelink pension or benefit, this means they do not have to report the redress payment as income to Centrelink.
A redress payment may be counted as an asset for the purpose of calculating a person’s pension or benefit. This is because the balance of a person’s bank account is considered an asset.
A redress payment may also be included as a liquid asset for the ‘liquid assets test waiting period’ for people claiming Jobseeker, Youth Allowance or Austudy.
The liquid assets test waiting period is the amount of time a person has to wait before receiving one of the above payments if they have funds that are readily available to them. The period can vary from one week to 13 weeks, depending on the amount of the person’s assets and their personal situation.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Government has allowed a temporary exemption from the liquid assets test waiting period for six months from 25 March 2020. This means people applying for a Centrelink pension or benefit will no longer have to wait to receive their payment, even if they have liquid assets such as a redress payment.
No personal income tax is not deducted from redress payments. This means people who receive a redress payment will not need to declare it to the Australian Taxation Office as taxable income.
If a person gives all or part of their redress payment to another person, then the amount given could be taxable income. It could, if that recipient is on a Centrelink payment, pension or benefit, also be considered as income and also an asset for Centrelink payments, pensions or benefits.
The NRS need copies of your identification so they can assist you with things like requesting your records. To do this, they need copies that show your name, signature and a photo of you, if possible). A ‘certified copy’ is a copy of an original document. A qualified person must authorise (or stamp) the copy to prove it is a true copy of the original.
Below are links for each state and territory that explain how to do that:
Responding to Disclosures of Sexual Abuse by Children and Young People
National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020
Young Leaders Program 2021 - 2022!
Content warning: Response to the National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse Final Development Consultation Paper
News & media
A horrific playground incident: how one school failed its students
Disability Royal Commission - Response to Restrictive Practices issues paper
Disability Royal Commission - Response to Rights and Attitudes issues paper
Privacy concerns a stumbling block for Disability Royal Commission submissions
Open letter to the Attorney-General The Hon. Christian Porter MP
Disability Royal Commission - Response to Criminal Justice System issues paper
Statement in response to ABC Background Briefing episode: Who seeks to profit from the trauma of abuse survivors?
The Disability Royal Commission and how to get involved
How can we help keep children and young people with disability safe?
What to do when harm occurs - or you suspect it
What is violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children and young people with disability