One child sex abuse survivor has died without getting a redress payment, another is close to death and many more fear dying before seeing any money.
Just seven or eight people have been paid out in the four months since the scheme opened, with thousands more expected.
Tony Duffy survived horrific abuse but is now gravely ill in hospital, waiting for compensation that might not arrive if he dies.
An 82-year-old man died at the end of October before getting a cent from the NSW government.
And Roy and Rhonda Janetzki fear they won't live to see their payments.
"I'll probably end up dead before anything really happens," Roy Janetzki told AAP.
Mr Janetzki was abused in four separate Catholic institutions and also in a Victorian government home. He cannot get a payment until all of them sign up to the redress scheme.
"I knew it would be a long drawn-out process but I did not think it would be this long and this hard," he said.
Care Leavers Australasia Network's Leonie Sheedy said Mr Duffy deserved to hear that his suffering was being recognised.
"Tony's doctor told him he wouldn't be alive by December," Ms Sheedy told AAP.
Rhonda Janetzki said churches and charities were dragging out the process as long as possible.
"They're all trying to hold onto their 30 pieces of silver," she told AAP.
"I just feel like we're all being betrayed again."
Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher has urged institutions to sign up to the redress scheme so survivors can start getting payments.
"It is vital that they turn words into action," Mr Fletcher said recently.
But his office confirmed institutions were being "encouraged" to sign up, rather than being forced to.
Mr Fletcher's office also said the scheme was working with institutions and governments to bring them on board as quickly as possible when survivors are ill or dying.
"If someone passes away after making a complete application and they are made an offer of redress, their estate can receive their redress payment," his spokeswoman told AAP.
But for Rhonda Janetzki, the application process is "excruciating" as she has to not only relive her abuse but describe the impact on every part of her life.
Institutions have until June 2020 to join the scheme but Mrs Janetzki said that will be too late for many.
"We can't afford to wait until 2020," she said.
Roy Janetzki said churches and charities should be forced to join.
"As kids we were never given the option to opt in or opt out," he said.
"They should not be given a choice because we weren't."