7.5 Participating groups
What is a participating group?
The Scheme allows for 2 or more participating institutions to form a participating group. When this occurs, the institutions are known as 'associates' of one another. A participating group must also have a representative. Group associates will be jointly and severally liable with their representative to provide redress. This allows the Scheme to recover funding liability from the representative for any one of the associates in the group for a person's redress.
Before participating non-government institutions can become a group, the Minister for Families and Social Services must be satisfied that there is a sufficient connection between the participating institutions.
Once an institution is included within a participating group, it cannot be a member of another participating group.
What is an associate?
As discussed above, a participating institution that is a member of a participating group is an associate of each other participating institution in the group.
Associates of a participating group are identified in a person's offer of redress when applicable. This means that when a person accepts their offer, they will be forever releasing the responsible institution/s and each associate in their participating group including officials from any civil claim for any abuse within the scope of the Scheme. This release does not extend to the person who abused you at the responsible institution or any other person who abused you and does not release anyone from criminal liability.
A group representative must receive all notices in relation to the Scheme on behalf of the institutions it represents.
Becoming a member of participating group (non-government institutions)
To become a participating group of non-government institutions, institutions must agree to: form a group, to be in the group with the other members, and to have a representative. The representative must also agree to the arrangement in writing.
Once agreed, and the Minister is satisfied of the connection between the participating institutions, a declaration may be made and the participating group is established under the Scheme. The Minister will also declare a representative (see 7.6).
Ministerial declaration about participating groups
The Minister may declare, by notifiable instrument, a participating group if satisfied that:
- for a group of Commonwealth institutions - the Commonwealth has agreed to each Commonwealth institution being a member of the group
- for a group of State institutions - the participating State has agreed, under that state's law or referral, to each State institution being a member of the group
- for a group of Territory institutions, the participating Territory has agreed for each Territory institution being a member of the group
- for a group of non-government institutions
- each institution has agreed to be a member and for each other institution also being a member of that group
- there is a connection between each institution (i.e. business or religious commonality), and
- in all cases, each institution is not a member of another participating group; and the group has a representative.
Participating groups - varying or revoking a declaration
Over the course of the Scheme's operation, a participating group's membership may be changed or ended. This may occur for a variety of reasons, such as another participating institution wanting to join the group; the group wanting to appoint a new representative, or cease having a representative; or an associate of the group requesting to leave the Scheme.
The Minister must vary or revoke a declaration as soon as practicable where:
- a state requests in writing to vary or revoke a declaration
- a participating Territory requests in writing to vary or revoke a declaration, or
- all of the non-government institutions that are members of a participating group request in writing to vary or revoke a declaration.
The Minister must also revoke a participating group declaration established for non-government institutions where the group ceases to have a representative. When a participating group ceases, each participating institution will continue to be an 'associate' for the purposes of assessing a person's application that was submitted before the date of the Minister's revocation.
Act reference: NRSAct Part 5-2 Groups of institutions participating in the scheme, section 133 Participating groups, section 135 Institutions ceasing to be members of a participating group
NRS Rules Part 12 Participating institutions and participating groups
Policy reference: Redress Guide 7.6 Representatives