The Federal Minister for Families and Social Services, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP has today notified the Uniting Church in Australia that the Church has met the requirements to commence participation in the National Redress Scheme for people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse.

The Scheme operated by the Commonwealth Government allows survivors to apply for counselling, a Redress payment of up to $150,000 and a direct personal response from the institution involved. Information on who can apply is set out on the National Redress Scheme website.

President Dr Deidre Palmer has welcomed the notification, which opens the way for survivors of abuse in Uniting Church institutions to seek redress through the Scheme.

“First and most importantly I want to acknowledge those who have been waiting for this decision, which follows months of work and cooperation with Uniting Church bodies across the country, the Department of Social Services and other State and Federal government agencies” said Dr Palmer.

“I would also like to repeat once more the sincere apology I and past Uniting Church Presidents have made to people who were abused in our care as children. I am truly sorry that we didn’t protect and care for you in accordance with our Christian values.”

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard evidence of child sexual abuse within a number of current and former Uniting Church institutions. One of the key recommendations that the Royal Commission made was to establish a national redress scheme for those who have experienced institutional child sex abuse.

“Our Church has long supported a truly national scheme managed independently from the Church,” said Dr Palmer.

“In our view this is the fairest way to ensure survivors are consistently and equitably treated and supported.”

The Uniting Church has established UCA Redress Ltd to coordinate its response to applications to the Scheme brought by people who experienced child sexual abuse in the Church and its institutions.

National Director of UCA Redress Ltd Sarah Lim says the first step for potential applicants is to contact the Scheme itself.

“People who have experienced abuse can apply directly to the National Redress Scheme via their website www.nationalredress.gov.au or via the Scheme’s toll-free contact number 1800 737 377,” said Ms Lim.

“As of March 2019, all six Uniting Church in Australia Synods, their Congregations and Presbyteries, and most current and historic community service agencies and schools have indicated they will participate in the Scheme.“In total, more than 6500 individual sites and institutions will participate in the Scheme with UCA Redress Ltd acting as their group representative,” said Ms Lim.

More information is available on the UCA Redress website.

Our commitment to care, service and support

The Uniting Church Synod of NSW and the ACT acknowledges the impact of child sexual abuse in the lives of those who have been abused in our institutions or those of our predecessor Churches. To each survivor and all of their families, we are truly sorry.

We encourage survivors to make an application for redress under the Government’s National Redress Scheme. We would also encourage survivors to contact the case workers from the National Redress Scheme, but if you need further support contact Cristina Santolin our part-time case manager who can provide assistance with National Redress Scheme applications on 1800 713 993 or uca.redress@redress.uca.org.au

A culture of safety underpins everything we do. We require all Uniting Church members within the Synod to play their part to make our Church, agencies and schools the safest they can be for children in our care. In particular:

  • We continue to provide training in accordance with the Safe Church Training Agreement to ministers, staff and volunteers. This includes education on how and when to report any suspected or actual incident of child sexual abuse, in accordance with all legislative requirements and Safe Church guidelines.
  • We encourage everyone to speak out in confidence about any matter relating to child safety.