In Australia, according to the Mirage news source reports, the Queensland Government is urging participation by all religious organizations and other groups named in the National Redress Scheme. The Government made it clear that includes the New York-based Watchtower’s Australian branch leadership.
On July 6, 2020, local newspapers and other news sources reported that the Queensland Government announced that “time’s up” for religious and other statewide organizations that should have signed up for Australia’s National Redress Scheme.
“Non-Government institutions against whom claims of child sexual abuse have been made had until 30 June, to sign up to the scheme.”
The Minister for “Child Safety, Youth and Women,” Di Farmer, said that she made it clear from the very start of the scheme that the Queensland Government would not tolerate institutions in Queensland where child sexual abuse previously occurred for failing to take responsibility. Farmer made it very clear what their responsibilities were in the following statement:
“Until the institutions responsible for this abuse sign up to the National Redress Scheme, survivors cannot get the closure, acknowledgment, and recompense, they need and deserve.
“The survivors of these institutions were abused in the most dreadful way, by the very people who were supposed to look after them. For too many years most of them have suffered in silence because talking about it caused trauma all over again, or there was simply no-one to tell.”
Minister Farmer said that Queensland has a strong record of supporting survivors of historic institutional child sexual abuse, whose lives have been forever damaged.
“That is why, very early on in the life of the scheme, I contacted every organization we thought likely to be liable, to let them know very clearly the Queensland Government’s views.
“While for many this was new territory, many organizations quickly took responsibility and signed up.
“Some were slower to meet their obligations, and I pay tribute to the officers of the Queensland Government departments who have worked tirelessly with organizations to help them meet their obligations, so the life-long struggle, disadvantage, and pain of survivors can be recognized and better understood.
“Because of that hard work and advocacy, there is less than a handful of Queensland organizations yet to sign up to the Scheme, and some have only very recently become aware of their obligations.”
The Watchtower’s Australia religious branch organization and its leadership (under the direction and guidance of their New York, USA headquarters) continue to refuse to cooperate and join the “Redress Scheme.” In fact, they have made it clear that they have no intention to change or modify their position. They are among a very few remaining groups that continue to reject the “Scheme” or reconsidering their opposition to the plan.
Minister Farmer said that the Queensland Government understands there are some large national organizations that are not based in Queensland – but who nonetheless operated in Queensland – that have responsibilities to Queensland survivors. And yet they have still not opted in, similar to the position Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken. Farmer made her position very clear:
“We say to those organizations that their failure to provide closure and concrete help to survivors is not acceptable in Queensland or anywhere else. This refusal to show moral leadership is entirely at odds with what any reasonable person would consider the values of a decent society.
“Organisations refusing to support abuse survivors should not expect support from the Queensland Government. They should expect that ongoing refusal to participate will harm their reputation and standing in the community, and that Governments will actively consider sanctions.
“It is not too late for them to do right by survivors and join the Scheme”, she said.
“Our active engagement with these institutions will continue until they sign on the dotted line.”
It was announced that the deadline for these organizations to complete the administrative processes to get on board has been extended by six months. The government’s position seems to be that it is willing to work with the remaining groups to resolve any misunderstanding or open issues, but will insist on final resolutions and restitution for the victims.
The National Redress Scheme was established in response to a recommendation by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It supports survivors of child sexual abuse through payment, an apology, or counseling. For more information about the National Redress Scheme visit https://www.nationalredress.gov.au/