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Abuse survivors call for government to force charities to opt into scheme

Survivors of child sex abuse are dying before getting a redress payment, with only a handful of payments made in the four months since the scheme opened

One child sex abuse survivor has died without getting a redress payment, another is close to death and many more fear dying before seeing any money.

Just seven or eight people out of thousands have been paid out in the four months since the scheme opened. Survivors have blamed churches and charities for the slow process and have called for the government to force them to opt into the scheme.

Tony Duffy suffered horrific abuse and is now gravely ill in hospital, waiting for the compensation that might not arrive if he dies and an 82 year old man died at the end of October before getting a cent from the government.

Care Leavers Australasia Network’s Leonie Sheedy said Duffy should hear that his suffering was recognised: “Tony’s doctors told him he wouldn’t be alive by December.”

Both Roy and Rhonda Janetzki also have fears they won’t live to see their payments.

“I’ll probably end up dead before anything really happens,” said Roy Janetzki, who was abused in four separate Catholic institutions and in a Victorian government home. He cannot get a payment until all of them sign up to the redress scheme.

“I knew it would be a long, drawn-out process but I did not think it would be this long and hard,” he told AAP.

Rhonda Janetzki said churches and charities were dragging out the process as long as possible: “They’re all trying to hold onto their 30 pieces of silver.”

“I just feel like we’re being betrayed again.”

Social Services Minster, Paul Fletcher, has urged institutions to sign up to the redress scheme so survivors can start getting payments. But his office confirmed that churches and charities were being “encouraged” to join, rather than being forced to.

Fletcher’s office also said the scheme was working with institutions and governments to bring them on board as quickly as possible when survivors are ill or dying.

“If someone passes away after making a complete application, and they are made an offer of redress, their estate can receive their redress payment,” a spokesperson said.

But for Rhonda Janetzki, the application process is “excruciating” as she has to not only relive her abuse, but describe the impact on every part of her life.

Institutions have until 2020 to join the scheme but Rhonda Janetzki said that will be too late for many: “We can’t afford to wait until 2020.”

She said churches and charities should be forced to join.

“As kids we were never given the option to opt in or opt out,” he said. “They should not be given a choice because we weren’t.”

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