SYDNEY - A $3 billion compensation plan for victims of child abuse begins Sunday in Australia. Financial restitution was one of the key recommendations of a five-year Royal Commission into the abuse of children in Australian institutions dating back several decades.
Authorities believe the plan will help to ease the pain of those who were abused in Australian institutions.
Michael Welsh, an Aboriginal man, was forcibly taken from his parents when he was 8 years old. He was sent to the notorious Kinchella Boys Home in New South Wales state, where he says he was brutally mistreated.
"We were starved, we were flogged and we were abused physically and sexually," said Welsh.
It is estimated that 60,000 Australians will be eligible to claim compensation, but victims of child abuse who have criminal records might not be allowed to take part.
The average claim is likely to be around $56,000, and payments are capped at $110,000.
Michael Welsh hopes to buy land and be surrounded by his family.
"I would love to have a property that they could build their own houses on or whatever. Yeah, that is my dream," said Welsh.
Australia's Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan, says the compensation scheme is a significant step forward.
"This is momentous for those who suffered child sex abuse," said Tehan. "For years and years they have sought redress, they have sought an apology, they have sought compensation and on 1 July that process will begin."
The multi-billion redress scheme was a key recommendation of a Royal Commission that investigated child sexual abuse in Australian religious organizations, schools, charities, sports clubs and the military.
For five years, the inquiry heard stories of depravity, of children being routinely attacked and degraded. Many perpetrators held positions of leadership and authority, including priests and teachers. The Commission published its report last December.
The government says most of its recommendations will be implemented, and the prime minister will make a national apology to victims of abuse in October.