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Public Trustee Victims Out in the Cold

In Parliament today the Attorney-General, Elise Archer, condemned dozens of victims of the Public Trustee’s mismanagement to an expensive and distressing process to seek compensation for financial loss and trauma.

The Attorney-General even said clients would need to apply, in the first instance, to the Public Trustee, in effect forcing them back to their abuser. These are highly vulnerable and in many cases traumatised people being asked to confront the perpetrator of that harm to seek an ex gratia payment.

Her chief defence for ruling out a compensation scheme is that a review into the Public Trustee undertaken by Damian Bugg AM, did not recommend one. This is disingenuous in the extreme: the terms of reference for the Bugg review did not ask him to consider compensation so of course he did not address the matter.

Regrettably the Attorney-General played down the harm that was caused by the clear operational and functional failings of the Public Trustee.

These victims have been to hell and back. It is not acceptable if applicants for compensation have to prove loss through expensive, lengthy and distressing processes.

That just mounts cruelty on top of cruelty.

The Attorney-General must stop hiding behind irrelevances and twisted logic and immediately establish a compensation scheme that is independent of the Public Trustee, properly funded, timely, fair and easily accessible.

And it must not only compensate for monetary loss, but include trauma and mental suffering.

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