This article chronicles the evolution of Australia’s National Redress Scheme for institutional child sexual abuse. It provides a comprehensive analysis of what occurred from the release of the Royal Commission’s redress recommendations in September 2015 to early July 2019, capturing the twists and turns of legislative changes, government statements, and media stories. We chart the parliamentary processes that culminated in the scheme’s commencement on 1 July 2018 and analyse the changing treatment of 17 contentious matters at the heart of the scheme. Constitutional limits on federal power meant that federal and state governments had to negotiate and compromise in creating a single national scheme. In the process, the redress scheme unravelled: 14 of 17 matters shifted moderately or significantly away from the Royal Commission’s recommendations and redress principles. Future changes to the scheme will require substantial renegotiations and a shift in position on increased costs.
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