The federal government is investigating whether it can revoke tax concessions for six institutions that failed to sign up to the national child abuse redress scheme.
The institutions are Australian Air League, Boys’ Brigade NSW, Fairbridge Restored Limited, Lakes Entrance Pony Club, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Kenja Communications.
Social Services Minister Anne Ruston says the six institutions will now be ineligible to apply for any future commonwealth funding and the government is investigating options to revoke tax concessions, such as charitable status.
“It is completely unacceptable that these institutions have failed to meet their moral obligation to join the National Redress Scheme,” Senator Ruston said in a statement on Wednesday.
“These are institutions which know they been named in applications and yet they have chosen to shirk their responsibility to finally do the right thing by these survivors.”
The decision of the institutions means 55 applications by survivors on institutional abuse cannot be processed.
Senator Ruston said she would discuss actions state and territory governments can take against them, and how to best support survivors. at the next meeting of the Redress Governance Board on July 8.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week warned he would halt public funding for organisations that failed to sign up by the June 30 deadline and reconsider their charitable status and tax concessions.
The Victorian government has threatened to cut off state funding for organisations that don’t join the scheme.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses refused to sign up, saying it didn’t have the institutional settings of other faith-based institutions that the redress scheme is designed to cover.
Knowmore principal lawyer Anna Swain expected Wednesday’s announcement would be distressing for many people who miss out on the chance to get compensation and acknowledgement from the institution responsible for their childhood sexual abuse.
Ms Swain said some survivors whose abuse involved multiple institutions had already felt they had no option but to sever their redress application, proceeding with only the participating organisation.
“That’s been incredibly disappointing for people who feel they’ve had no choice because of ill-health or age, that ‘I will just have to accept I’ve been forced into a corner and I will never get the acknowledgement from the institution that hasn’t joined’.”
Ms Swain called on the states to declare they would step up as the funder of last resort where an institution no longer existed but the survivor was under the care of the state when they were sexually abused.
Religious, community, charity, education and sporting organisations were given two years to join the scheme and had to at least provide a written commitment to do so by June 30.