On 12 April, the Australian National Redress Scheme (the NRS) published the most recent update on its work to date.

In March 2023, the NRS received the largest number of application since it was launched in June 2018.

As of 31 March 2023, the total number of applications received by the NRS stands at 24,609. As of the same date, the NRS has also communicated the outcome of 12,576 applications to the applicants.

As the NRS approaches the fifth anniversary of its launch and is almost halfway through the ten-year period that it is scheduled to be open for applications for redress, it is only now beginning to see the number of applications received being in line with projections.

This is not unusual in either national and/or private redress schemes, where inevitably the number of applications to such schemes, always increase as the schemes edge closer to their final closing date.

Of all applications:

  • 11,768 have been finalised (determined as either eligible or ineligible, with offers of redress either accepted or declined)
  • 11,284 payments have been made totalling approximately AUS$997.1 million dollars
  • 796 have been withdrawn by the applicant
  • 12,045 applications are on hand with the scheme, of which:
    • 744 are with applicants, awaiting a decision on their offer of redress
    • 1,047 are with institutions, awaiting a response to a Request For Information
    • 2,726 are on hold (for reasons such as at the request of the applicant; where further information has been requested from the applicant; where there is difficulty contacting the applicant or due to a non-participating institution)
    • 7,528 are in progress with the scheme, of which:
      • 4,805 are being actioned
      • 2,723 are temporarily unable to be actioned (for reasons such as awaiting contact from the applicant or awaiting extra information).

On the basis of the information provided by the NRS the average award of redress is AUS$88,370, which is equivalent to £44,370 approximately at current exchange rates.

The other figure of note in the recent update provided by the NRS is the number of applications that have been withdrawn by the applicant to date, which stands at 796, only 3.2% of the total applications received. This figure would indicate that on the whole the NRS is working well in that applicants are happy to progress through the scheme and accept the level of redress being awarded.

However, the backlog in terms of processing applications is still unacceptable, as is the fact that almost 50% of all applications received to date are still on hand and have yet to be determined.

There can be little doubt that further resources and staff will be required to support the NRS if it is to remain as a viable alternative to lengthy and costly civil litigation, as the rate of applications is only likely to increase as the NRS move towards its projected closing date, in circumstances where it was anticipated that by June 2028, the NRS will receive up to 60,000 to 65,000 applications for redress.