As reported in the media today, Christian Schools Australia Limited (CSA) has signed up as a participating institution in the National Redress Scheme.
This does not mean that member schools are participating institutions and each school (or applicable legal entity) needs to make their own decision on participation or otherwise.
As indicated in our Briefings for member schools, the decision as to whether to participate in the Scheme is a difficult one. Christian schools have a long history of being at the forefront of child protection reforms, reflected in both our submissions to various Governments and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse itself.
The absence of clear insurance arrangements around the Redress Scheme has been, however, a significant stumbling block for Christian schools operating as independent legal entities. While insurance for Court awarded compensation claims has historically been available for schools this type of cover generally does not provide protection for payments under the Redress Scheme.
Before determining to participate many school boards have needed to weigh up whether the school has sufficient financial capacity to meet any potential liabilities or has insurance arrangements in place to provide cover for any payments under the Scheme. It would be a terrible for claimants under the Scheme if a participating institution unable to meet its Scheme responsibilities. Where schools are operating as the ministry of a local church this may further complicate consideration by a school board as the denomination may have arrangements in place to participate on a group basis.
CSA is not aware of any allegation of abuse or any potential for an allegation of abuse relating to its activities. After securing appropriate and cost effective insurance cover related to any payments that may arise under the Scheme, however, the decision was taken to participate and ensure that any potential victims of abuse have access to the Scheme and the protections it provides.