Some of Australia’s worst-offending pedophiles could soon receive substantial compensation because they, too, suffered sexual abuse as children.
A new proposal put forward by Victims of Crime Commissioner Michael O’Connell could give convicted pedophiles payouts of up to $150,000. Because compensation is to come out of a single pool of $4 billion as part of a national redress scheme for institutional child sexual abuse victims, there would be less money available for abuse victims who did not go on to abuse.
O’Connell defends the legislative thrust, saying that all victims of sex offenses that they suffered as children should be eligible, including those who later committed similar crimes.
“Redress is not about their crime (as an adult) but rather about their victimisation as children,’’ O’Connell stated, according to The Advertiser.
“The redress scheme cannot be truly just, fair and equitable if some kinds of victims are ineligible.
“All (child) victims should count, including those who later became offenders.”
Last year, the Australian government decided to exclude victims of child abuse who later went on to abuse others.
Besides making sex offenders ineligible, the decision also excluded those jailed for drug offenses and murder crimes, SBS News reported.
O’Connell’s proposal follows an investigation by the Royal Commission into child abuse in institutions. It identified 60,000 victims eligible for compensation of up to $150,000 each. But the Royal Commission left open the question of exclusions and recommended that government and other institutions decide for themselves who is to be eligible and who not.
The government’s decision was criticized by South Australian Law Society SA President Tim Mellor, who said that matters of compensation should be stipulated in law and not be left to the “whims” of politicians.
Australian senators are said to now be reviewing the proposal to decide on the final shape of the law, called the Institutional Child Sexual Abuse (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017.
Child abuse expert Elspeth McInnes said it is “absolutely correct” for all victims to be compensated across the board.
“We know that one of the most common factors in becoming an adult perpetrator of child sex offences is having been violated as a child,’’ she said.
“They have suffered all of the injuries of that violation, which include later adult criminal behaviour.”
In the course of its investigation, the Royal Commission found that there were 4000 institutions across Australia where child sexual abuse took place.
Of the 60,000 victims, 20,000 were abused in government-run institutions and 40,000 in non-government facilities.