Member for Northern Metropolitan and Leader of The Reason Party, Fiona Patten, has instructed parliamentary counsel to draft a Bill that will remove charitable tax exemptions from Victorian institutions who refuse to sign up to the National Redress Scheme for People Who Have Experienced Child Sexual Abuse.
Organisations are due to sign up to the scheme by June 30 of this year, but 42 Victorian organisations – in which abuse occurred – have not.
The National Redress Scheme was created in response to recommendations by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and provides support to people who experienced institutional child sexual abuse. The Reason Party Bill will amend the Duties Act 2000 (Vic), Payroll Tax Act 2007 (Vic) and Land Tax Act 2005 (Vic) to removed generous tax exemptions for charities accountable for institutional child sexual abuse, that do not sign up to the redress scheme.
“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse listened to thousands of people about the abuse they experienced as children,” said Ms Patten.
“Institutions involved in this vile, abhorrent behaviour need to be held to account. They need to form part of the solution. So far it seems that many have decided they don’t need to participate.”
Ms Patten noted that on April 19 of this year, Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said: –
“My expectation is that Victorian institutions who have not yet signed up to the scheme do so immediately – refusing to sign up is just not acceptable.”
(Jill Hennessy, 19/4/20)
“At the time the Attorney General made that statement, 49 non-government organisations operating in Victoria were still yet to sign up to the scheme,” said Ms Patten. “After questioning in the last weeks sitting of Parliament, and with under a week to go, we find out that the outstanding number is 42. It’s unacceptable.”
“The abuse happened in churches, orphanages, and other religious institutions,“ said Ms Patten. “It happened in schools and sports clubs and hospitals – many of which are defined as charitable organisations and receive the benefits of being such.”
Ms Patten said the time had come for these organisations to understand what the community expects from them and they need to be put on notice.
“Sign up to the Redress Scheme right now – or risk having the sacks full of tax-free cash you enjoy emptied permanently.”
Ms Patten’s Bill would be introduced into Parliament in September of this year and take effect in October.
“Given that the Victorian Government and I seem to be on the same page on this issue, I would seek their support in passing this legislation – in fact, I invite them to come on board as a co-sponsor!” she said.