Jehovah's Witnesses among 34 additional organisations to formally sign up to national sexual abuse redress scheme – ABC News

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By political reporter Matthew Doran
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The Jehovah's Witnesses have formally signed up to the national redress scheme for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, more than a year after they were named and shamed for holding out.
The federal government has announced another 34 organisations have joined the compensation program, allowing 37 stalled applications for financial support to finally be processed.
More than 11,800 redress applications have been received so far, with around half having been processed and almost $530 million in payments made.
A total of 526 organisations have signed up to the scheme, along with the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments.
The Jehovah's Witnesses were one of six of the original hold-outs, named by Social Services Minister Anne Ruston in June last year.
Access to government grants were cut off, and the government sought to challenge the charitable status and tax concessions offered to such organisations as a punishment.
"We think that these strong sanctions have obviously had an impact on the Jehovah's Witnesses reconsidering their decision not to join," Senator Ruston said.
ABC News: David Sciasci
The 34 institutions who have now signed up also include Tennis Australia, St John Ambulance Australia Queensland, and charity Youth Off the Streets.
Senator Ruston said the institutions joining the redress scheme were a mixture of those subject to claims of abuse, and those pre-emptively signing up given their history of working with children.
The key moments that led to one of Australia's most pivotal inquiries — the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
"What this means is that in the future, if someone came forward with an application against one of those institutions, it's a much quicker experience for the survivor to be able to process the redress claim, because we don't actually have to onboard the institution," she said.
"So we sincerely thank those institutions who have come forward voluntarily."
Only one of those original organisations named by the Commonwealth in June 2020, Kenja Communication, was yet to sign up.
It stated it did not believe it was appropriate to sign up to the scheme where "genuine claims" of abuse against Kenja "do not exist".
"Kenja will not be cajoled or threatened into joining the scheme," the organisation posted on its website.
The redress scheme has been described as a bureaucratic nightmare, retraumatising victims of abuse in the process.
A recent review of the first two years of the redress scheme's existence found processing applications was taking far too long, and legislation recently passed federal Parliament allowing $10,000 advance payments to be made to survivors who are terminally ill or elderly. 
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