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A broad group of specialists from across Australia have been appointed to advise the national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, creating “a unique opportunity to show survivors that they have been listened to and heard”.

The 15 member Independent Advisory Council on Redress, named on Friday, includes survivors of institutional abuse, representatives from support organisations, legal and psychological experts, Indigenous and disability experts, institutional interest groups and those with a background in government.

Former solicitor and Western Australian Attorney General Hon Cheryl Edwardes AM, who has had a long career in victim advocacy and support, will chair the council.

President of Blue Knot Foundation Dr Cathy Kezelman AM said the broad representation of the council was “critical” to the creation of a fair and equitable scheme.

“The establishment of a national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse creates a unique opportunity to show survivors that they have been listened to and heard – that what happened to them mattered,” Kezelman said.

“The harm done to them has been acknowledged and they will receive support and some compensation.

“The broad representation of this advisory council is critical to the creation of a fair and equitable scheme.

“Survivors must be at the centre of the scheme – it must be developed with trauma-informed principles of safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration, empowerment and sensitivity to culture and diversity.

“I look forward to representing Blue Knot Foundation survivors voices and the need for appropriate counselling and psychological care for survivors.”

Establishing the council was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse from September last year.

Minister for Social Services Christian Porter released details of the 10-year redress scheme in November saying it would commence early 2018 with the option to extend beyond the 10-year period if the government has not provided service to all of the people expected.

The commission estimated that there are likely to be 60,000 eligible survivors.

The scheme is designed to ensure the government has streamlined access to expert advice when designing and implementing the Commonwealth redress scheme.

In particular, the council will provide advice on:

  • the governing principles that underpin the scheme
  • elements of the scheme’s design, that may include eligibility and the principles around the processes of application, assessment, psychological counselling and direct personal response
  • how to best encourage state, territory and non-government institution participation in the scheme
  • how the Commonwealth scheme will interact with other redress schemes.

The government is also establishing a best practice Commonwealth Redress Scheme and is inviting other governments and institutions to “opt-in” to the Commonwealth scheme on the “responsible entity pays” basis recommended by the Royal Commission.

The 15 members of the Independent Advisory Council on Redress are:

The Hon Cheryl Edwardes AM (chair)
Professor Muriel Bamblett AM, Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (Vic)
Matthew Bowden, CEO, People with Disability (NSW)
Caroline Carroll, chair, Alliance for Forgotten Australians (Vic)
Anne Cross, CEO, Uniting Care Queensland (Qld)
Professor Kathleen Daly, professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University (Qld)
Prue Gregory, principal lawyer, knowmore (NSW)
Shireen Gunn, manager, Ballarat Centre for Sexual Assault (Vic)
Gary Johns, writer and former Labor Minister (Qld)
Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, president/director, Blue Knot Foundation (NSW)
Helen Kroger, former Liberal Senator for Victoria (Vic)
Professor Patrick Parkinson, professor of Law, University of Sydney (NSW)
Leonie Sheedy, CEO, Care Leavers Australasia Network (NSW)
Francis Sullivan, CEO, Truth, Justice & Healing Council (ACT)
Richard Weston, CEO, Healing Foundation (Qld)

The first meeting of the council will be held early next year.

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Health Direct



“Blue Knot Foundation has a key role to play in the building of community capacity in care provision to those who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma in any environment.”

NIALL MULLIGAN Manager, Lifeline Northern Rivers

“I think Blue Knot Foundation is a fantastic support organisation for people who have experienced childhood trauma/abuse, for their families/close friends and for professionals who would like to learn how to more effectively work with these people.”

Psychologist Melbourne

“It's such a beautiful thing that you are doing. Helping people to get through this.”


“It was only last September when I discovered the Blue Knot Foundation website and I will never forget the feeling of support and empathy that I received when I finally made the first phone call to Blue Knot Helpline, which was also the first time I had ever spoken about my abuse.”


"At last there is some sound education and empathetic support for individuals and partners impacted by such gross boundary violations.”


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