No adult crime erases the legitimacy of trauma caused by childhood abuse, yet Turnbull’s two-tiered scheme implies that this is the case, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.

THE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse hadn’t quite concluded when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Social Security Minister Christian Porter embarked on their malfeasant project of creating two tiers of abuse survivors.

In their proposed and ill-named "redress" scheme (there can be no “redress”, there can only be recognition of awful suffering), a survivor of childhood sexual abuse will receive no “compensation” if he or she has spent five or more years in gaol.

Tha ABC reported:

'The bill excludes anyone convicted of sex offences, or sentenced to prison terms of five years or more for crimes such as serious drug, homicide or fraud offences.'

At present in this country, it is up to the judiciary to determine the punishment for crimes, not politicians and bureaucrats. Yet, if you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse who has done/is doing time for your crime, you will now be further punished by your ineligibility for recognition.

It isn’t enough that survivors have suffered criminal sexual assaults — the majority of which attracted no punishment at all for the perpetrators. It isn’t enough that survivors are already punished as our judiciary deems appropriate. Now Turnbull and Porter have decided to further punish this group of survivors — because they can.

And because it might save them a little bit of money they can spend on Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton’s spin doctors.

Apparently, in the skewed moral universe of Malcolm Turnbull, the damage done by sexual assaults perpetrated upon you when you were a little kid is superseded by your behaviour as an adult.

This is a sickening conflation. Survivors are not being rewarded by “compensation” — it’s a small financial recognition for lives ruined by the failure of authorities to fulfil their basic obligations and responsibilities to children in their care. No adult crime erases the legitimacy of trauma caused by childhood abuse, yet Turnbull’s two-tiered scheme implies that this is the case.

In the Coalition's world, childhood sexual abuse in itself doesn’t earn you the right to be recognised by your government and the institutions responsible for your suffering. You are only deserving of recognition if you are a good survivor.

It doesn’t matter what happened to you. You still need to behave like the ruling class thinks you should behave. This is what is most important. Not the crimes committed against you. Not the trauma you’ve struggled with your whole life. Not the perpetrators who escape accountability, including those who covered up the crimes against you. No. None of that.

You need to be a nice survivor. You need to behave.

You can follow Dr Jennifer Wilson on her blog No Place for Sheep or on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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