‘CRUEL, PETTY’: Redress scheme shaves thousands off payments
A NORTHERN Rivers abuse survivor will appeal the offer he received from the National Redress Scheme.
Casino man Robbie Gambley withdrew his first application through the scheme late last year due to the large amount of red tape involved.
He then began the process again with the organisation Knowmore.
Mr Gambley, who was abused by his school teacher at Bonalbo High School in the 1970s, was among those at Parliament House when Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered an apology to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in October, 2018.
His abuser was convicted in 2007.
At the suggestion of police, Mr Gambley was awarded Victims Services compensation of $40,000 at a time when the maximum was $50,000.
He paid all of this back in 2010 after a successful civil action which saw him awarded $180,000.
Of that sum, his legal team received $95,000.
But the NRS wants to take the full civil payment into account in an indexing process which will reduce his redress payment.
“They’re taking money off survivors who’ve suffered the most horrific abuse … and yet they still want to look at inflation,” Mr Gambley said.
“It’s very wrong.”
In a June 4 phone call – which should have involved his lawyers, but didn’t – NRS staff offered Mr Gambley a sum that’s less than half the maximum possible payment of $150,000.
Of the offered payment, they’re seeking to take more than $3322 through an indexing process that “takes into account inflation” and which Mr Gambley says is “wrong”.
“I was absolutely devastated,” Mr Gambley said.
He phoned staff working on the Joint Select Committee on Implementation of the National Redress Scheme and they explained there had been “a heap of complaints about the NRS and this indexing and the appeal process”.
Unlike alleged abuse perpetrators who, in the criminal justice system, can have a chance to appeal convictions multiple times, NRS applicants are given one chance to appeal a redress offer.
He said the offer made him feel “absolutely worthless”.
While then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull phoned Mr Gambley in early 2018 to personally apologise for what happened to him, Scott Morrison has responded to none of Mr Gambley’s three letters.
In response to one letter, sent last June, Families and Social Services Minister Anne Ruston responded to Mr Gambley last September and acknowledged the scheme was “not perfect” that they “must make improvements for survivors”.
For Mr Gambley, it’s unclear when any improvements will occur.
“This indexing, it’s so cruel,” he said.
“It’s so petty when they’re supposed to be compensating survivors for all that they’ve suffered under and institution when they were supposed to have been safe.”
He said he won’t accept the offer.
“It’s a gamble, I suppose, but I hope this government can have some compassion,” he said.
The Joint Select Committee held public hearings in Melbourne, Ballarat, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth in March and April and the first interim report was issued in April.
A range of recommendations included that “the practice of indexation of prior payments be removed”.
The committee also recommended that the NRS “make a more concerted effort to engage with survivors and survivor groups”.