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‘This change is a no-brainer’: Increased redress scheme needed for survivors

Whilst survivors of child sexual assault are often impacted their whole lives, offenders can typically get away without paying redress from their superannuation — something which this lawyer said needs to change.

user iconLauren Croft 03 November 2022 Big Law
‘This change is a no-brainer’: Increased redress scheme needed for survivors
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Andrew Carpenter is a senior associate at Websters Lawyers based in South Australia — and recently, on the Boutique Lawyer Show, he spoke about the legal loophole of hiding assets in superannuation  and just how, and when, change may be enacted.

Mr Carpenter has specialised in working with survivors for over 11 years and has seen a number of offenders get out of prison and access their superannuation — yet survivors cannot access their funds. He has since started campaigning to try and implement change within the space — and started emailing “anyone who would listen” in 2020.

“It was only in late 2021 [that] the ball started rolling. I had a random encounter with Adam Washbourne from Fighters Against Childhood Abuse, who didn’t know about this, where[as] most politicians I’ve dealt with over the years don’t even know about the liberal government’s proposed plan. And he started working with me,” he said.


“A few months later, we got in contact with the Carly Ryan Foundation, [which] is a great charity in South Australia here, [which] joined on board. And then, as of April this year, the Grace Tame Foundation got involved. And once all of us started working together, I wasn’t going to these meetings by myself; I was going with a collective voice, with charities and individuals that have been doing this for a long time.”

The group has since had meetings with politicians, the Women in Super chief executive, and other individuals that have been able to help push the issue with the government.

“One of the big things that I’ve been saying from day one is that the National Redress Scheme that’s been open for a period of 10 years, that’s all well and good. But the average time frame it takes for a survivor to come forward to report the abuse is 33 years.

“Now, yes, there’s a $12 billion fund that’s set up for the federal government, but what’s going to happen when that fund ends? There’s going to be plenty of people coming forward, and is a taxpayer going to have to fund another redress scheme when a lot of these offenders have assets that are going to be taken?” Mr Carpenter explained.

“So, we’ve been able to secure a meeting with the politicians and really put across our work to show why it’s required and why this deterrent needs to happen. Because the latest stats are, so one in four are girls and one in six young boys will experience some form of sexual abuse in their lifetime. Now, something needs to stop that. If a 25 per cent female has a chance of getting abused as a child and what a 16.6 per cent chance as a young boy, something needs to change here.”

In terms of when change may actually be enacted, Mr Carpenter said whilst Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus and a number of other politicians have had an interest in the issue, it’s been a slow process.

“Since day one, I’ve been saying to everyone that would listen that this change is a no-brainer because it’s going to save the taxpayer money, it’s going to punish offenders, and it’s going to hopefully stop this insidious crime from happening,” he noted.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken to has said, ‘Yep, great idea,’ but then a lot of the politicians are too scared to put their name to it. And I’m not necessarily sure why, when it’ll save taxpayers money and punish paedophiles. To me, from day one, it’s a no-brainer change, and there needs to be a lot more pressure put on the government to do this.”

The Liberal government originally said they would implement change in 2017 — in the face of a 20,000-strong petition. Now, the group’s petition is up to 46,000 signatures — and Mr Carpenter said there are a number of other things legal professionals can do to implore the Labor government to act.

“The good thing about this campaign is, there’s been something happening, and then it’s a low for two months and something happens again. So, it’s not like some other campaigns where it’s just a one-hit wonder on TV, and then it stops. We’ve had a lot of publicity over the past year, where it keeps on popping up, and it’s something that it’s getting the attention it deserves. But we just really need that, the people in power to really take this by the horns and get this changed,” he added.

“So, any lawyer that specialises in this, make sure you share the petition if your work has social media pages and just write to your local attorneys-general and really support this change because it is something that anyone that stepped forward in the legal profession obviously has an interest in justice. And survivors having a lifetime sentence for these heinous crimes against them is it’s something that needs to change.”

Improvements to this legislation will change both client service delivery in this space and the clients’ lives — by increasing access to justice, Mr Carpenter concluded.

“It’s just about making sure that they can actually seek damages for what had happened to them. It’s heartbreaking telling someone that they’ve been abused 50 years ago, they’ve never worked, they never will work, and that their only option is to send the victims of crime compensation application whilst they’re survivors — [to their abuser] who often are teachers under the state drive benefit scheme who retire on 85 per cent of their wages, and are able to live a comfortable life, all at the expense of survivors that have nothing,” he said.

“So, it is about client services, but the main thing across the board is making sure people get the justice they deserve. If you have someone that’s been a survivor and you know that their offender has assets, there should be no rhyme or reason why that survivor should be able to access assets of offenders.”

The transcript of this podcast episode was slightly edited for publishing purposes. To listen to the full conversation with Andrew Carpenter, click below:


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