November-December 2017 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

Summer holidays are approaching and in this combined November/December issue we share a few ideas that may help lighten what can be a complicated time for many of us.

Read the update on the Commonwealth Redress Scheme as explained by a leading abuse lawyer from SHINE Lawyers.

People all over Australia created an impact with a wide variety of community events held to raise awareness for Blue Knot Day. We share some of these with you.

In her story Aimee implores parents to consider the traumatic impacts and consequences for small children when parents and caregivers are addicted to drugs. Read about her experience.

Everyone can get involved with micro fundraising that costs you nothing with the clever initiative of FOLO. It is explained in this edition.

Finally the News section will provide a few stories that we have been following this month. As always if you have comments about what you have read in this issue, contributions for the My Story section or suggestions for future issues, please contact me at newsletter@blueknot.org.au.


Warm regards
Jane Macnaught | Editor


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Commonwealth Redress Scheme

An update for Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse written by Lisa Flynn, National Special Counsel – Abuse Law, Shine Lawyers 

Newsletter

Recently, further information has been released in relation to the proposed National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse suffered within institutions.

Whilst the Federal Government is to be congratulated on its willingness to implement a National Scheme to provide redress and assistance to survivors of institutional child sexual abuse in Australia, there remain some issues with the scheme, largely because State governments and institutions have, to date been reluctant to opt in to this vital structure.

Details of the Commonwealth Redress Scheme

Entitlement to the Scheme

·         To be entitled to access the scheme, a person has to have suffered sexual abuse when the person was a child (under the age of 18) either inside or outside of Australia and the abuse must have occurred before the scheme’s start day of 1 July 2018.

·         Sexual abuse is defined as any act which exposes a person to, or involves a person in, sexual processes beyond the person’s understanding or contrary to accepted community standards.

·         Non sexual abuse will be compensated if it related to the sexual abuse. Non sexual abuse is related if the institution is responsible for both the sexual abuse and the non-sexual abuse.

What a person may be entitled to under the Commonwealth Redress Scheme

·         Redress will consist of payments of up to $150,000.00. In addition, counselling and direct engagement will be provided if the survivor requires this.

·         Counselling will be available after an offer is accepted and for the life of the scheme, which initially will be ten years.

How the amount of redress will be calculated

The amount that a person will be awarded under the redress scheme will be calculated by an assessment matrix which takes in-to account relevant factors including (but not limited to):

·         The severity of the abuse

·         The impact of the abuse

·         Relevant circumstances in relation to the abuse

Standard of proof required for access to the Commonwealth Redress Scheme

Applicants will need to prove that there was a “reasonable likelihood” that the abuse occurred and this is defined as “the chance of an event occurring or not occurring which is real - not fanciful or remote”.

How a claim is made

A claim must be in a prescribed form and include all relevant information and the information must be verified by a statutory declaration.

Impact on other payments

Compensation will be tax free and will not affect payments under the Social Security Act and Veterans Entitlements Act and will be quarantined from any bankruptcy proceedings and will be protected from garnishee orders. Because the payment will not be defined as compensation or damages there will be no requirement to repay any benefits under form any Commonwealth or state scheme including Medicare repayments.

What if someone has been awarded compensation or redress prior to the introduction of the Scheme?

“Top ups” will be available but the amount already received will be adjusted upward for today’s values. This means that survivors who have already received a payment of $150,000 or more will not be eligible for a further monetary payment but may still access counselling and direct personal response from the institution through the redress scheme.

Current Main Issues With The Proposed Commonwealth Redress Scheme

The maximum amount available is less than the amount recommended by the Royal Commission

The Royal Commission recommended that the maximum redress amount be $200,000.00 with average payments of $65,000.00.  The Commonwealth announced schemes caps redress at $150,000.00 with average amounts expected at less than $65,000.00

Those excluded from the Scheme

The Minister has announced that survivors who have been convicted of sex crimes or serious crimes which have attracted jail terms of 5 years or more will not be eligible to apply under the scheme. This prohibition is not in the legislation and will likely be covered by the Rules.  This is a contentious element of the Redress scheme, given that there can be a connection between some survivors offending and the abuse that they have suffered and that these people have already been punished for their crimes and should not be punished twice.

Issues with Institutions and State Governments “opting in” to the Scheme

The main practical issue with the scheme currently is that for someone to be entitled to redress under this Commonwealth Scheme, they must have suffered abuse within an institution that has “opted in” to the scheme and is therefore classed as a “participating institution”.

So far, no State governments have opted in to the Redress scheme. Some States have indicated a willingness, but there remains some recalcitrant States in this respect.  Some institutions have indicated that they will opt in, but some have stated publicly that they will not.

This will lead to a very inequitable and undesirable result if not all States and relevant institutions opt in to the Commonwealth Scheme.


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Donate For Free?

Yes, help out and you pay nothing - $0

Blue Knot Foundation recently partnered with the Folo to enable our supporters to make free donations through everyday online purchases.

‘Folo’ (meaning “For Love”) is a web browser toolbar extension that automatically makes charitable donations from purchases made online, paid for by the retailer. With over 1000 participating retailers, including Woolworths, Groupon, Sony and Virgin Australia, donations offered by retailers range up to 10% of each product or service purchased, with the Folo bar showing how much of the cost will be donated to Blue Knot Foundation. 

"Just 500 people using Folo will generate $15k-$30k a year in donations. One million users could generate $30 million-$60 million," Folo spokeswoman Jaimee Abict told the Sydney Morning Herald last year. 

Folo is an enterprise of The Pure Foundation, which manages a diverse group of ‘profit for purpose’ businesses, including Folonomo restaurant, in Surry Hills, Sydney (see Blue Knot Day article for more information), who recently hosted a Blue Knot Day event, where guests were encouraged to support Blue Knot Foundation by using Folo with their online purchases.

To make cost-free donations, simply download the Folo here and Blue Knot Foundation will automatically be selected as your charity of choice. Even if you are not a big online shopper yourself, we are sure you must know people who are. Share Folo far and wide as anyone can use it and it never costs them a cent!

This product is a great fit for Blue Knot Foundation in the run up to the holiday season, with many people looking to purchase gifts online”, Cath James, Blue Knot Foundation Fundraising Manager told Breaking Free. “It’s a cost-free way to make donations to the foundation, which is perfect for our supporters who may want to donate this year, but are not in a position to do so. In particular, using Folo could make a significant impact on Blue Knot Foundation’s fundraising revenue if readers are purchasing bigger ticket items, such as flights or accommodation”.



To support Blue Knot Foundation simply download the Folo onto your computer's browser today. It's free, easy to use and takes seconds to install!


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STOP PRESS 

Undeniable - How The Truth Was Revealed 

This ABC documentary delineates the road to the Royal Commission and screened - Tuesday 12th December 9.30 pm on ABC 1. 

This comes 2 days before the final public hearing and 3 days before the final report of the Commission is handed to the Governor General. Very timely indeed. 

With sincere thanks to Chrissie Foster, Paul Kennedy and countless others whose courage and determination have helped expose systemic abuse in our institutions…


ABC journalist Paul Kennedy investigates Australia's biggest cover-up: the decades of abuse in religious and state institutions, from elite inner city schools, to remote aboriginal missions. 

Please see the preview of the documentary below: 

 


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Self Care This Holiday Season

by Jane Macnaught, editor

The summer holiday season can be an intense time for many people. Families get together, emotions run high and interpersonal pressures can mount. For survivors of childhood trauma, this time of year can be especially difficult. We all face pressures to meet other people’s demands and this can be challenging. It is important to remember that we all have a right to decide the type of holiday period that we want.

Have Good Boundaries 

You have the right to say no to anything that does not feel good or helpful for you. In this holiday season it can be more difficult to say ‘no’, as there are more expectations and we don’t want to upset people.

It’s important to know and respect our personal limits around being with family and socialising. If we notice that we are feeling vulnerable, it is okay to not attend a particular function, or to go for a limited time and have an early exit strategy. Why not create a “Plan B”?  Other people’s feelings are their responsibility, while self care is our own. Saying “no” to things that are too stressful or overwhelming is healthy self care and good planning.

Survivors can find maintaining safe and healthy relationships and boundaries challenging. Many of us grew up in families where healthy boundaries were not modelled and some family members may still not respect boundaries or don’t have good boundaries themselves. 

If maintaining safe relationships and healthy boundaries is difficult for you, seek help from a supportive friend, family member or counsellor. Discuss boundaries with them and gain their support as you make plans for this time of the year.  Make a list of safe people you can contact if you need to debrief, and try not to let visiting relatives disturb the usual routines that support you. 

Create new, self-supportive traditions 

The holiday season does not always have to be the same each year; some traditions can be replaced with new ideas.

Some old traditions can be stressful and triggering for survivors. Consider giving yourself permission to step back, decide what you want to do and celebrate your way.  For some of us this may mean choosing to spend Christmas or another festival we celebrate, away from family and this is perfectly okay. Make this time manageable by planning to do activities that you really want to do. 

Exercise 

Exercising reduces our stress levels and promotes a feeling of well-being. Exercise does not have to be intense. A walk for 20 to 30 minutes a day can be of real benefit. Choose some form of exercise you enjoy and aim to do it 4-5 times a week. 

Eat Healthy Food (at least sometimes!) 

Extra chocolate, wine, cheese and special desserts are an important part of the holiday season for many people. Enjoy them. However it is also important to balance this with some healthy food to maintain energy and reduce stress. Make sure you are drinking enough water and regularly eating fruit and vegetables. 

Watch Your Use Of Alcohol (and other drugs) 

At this time of the year it can be tempting to cope with stress, or feelings of anger, sadness and grief by overusing alcohol and other drugs. However this can create problems, making it harder to maintain boundaries and safe relationships as well as increasing the stress your body may already be under. If you choose to drink alcohol, do so in moderation, alternating alcoholic drinks with non-alcohol drinks. Avoid or minimize using other drugs. If tempted to misuse drugs and alcohol try to practice other forms of self care first and seek professional support. 

Practice Being Mindful

Mindfulness offers us some tools for managing triggers, which may come in handy. Here’s a suggestion as to what you can do: We start by taking an observing stance, noticing what is happening in the body when stress buttons are pushed. We then describe the body sensations, write them down or simply become aware of them. Notice thoughts that arise, and label them as thoughts. Place your hands on your body to help settle, perhaps one hand on the belly and the other on your heart or chest. Get comfortable. Become aware of your breathing, simply notice your chest rising and falling. Stay like this for a few minutes – mindfully increasing awareness of your own body – and perhaps your triggers will ease. 

Treat Yourself

Make a list of things you like doing, that help you feel good and aim to do at least one of these each day. When developing your list, ask yourself what has worked in the past to help you feel good, to calm you down or to manage stress. Add these to the list. Items on the list do not need to be expensive, but can include simple things like having a bath, listening to music or going for a walk. Perhaps visiting the beach, going for a drive, and you might like to buy yourself a small gift.  Being kind and generous to ourselves during the holiday season is what’s recommended.

Blue Knot Help Line 1300 657 380 is also open EVERY DAY over the holiday season to offer support, information and referrals for survivors and their family and friends. As always, if your call is not answered straight away please leave a message and one of the team will return the call as soon as they can often on the same day and always within 48 hours. 

Blue Knot Administration Office will close for a holiday break from 5pm Friday 22nd December and reopens on Tuesday 2nd January, however the Blue Knot Helpline team will be operating every day over the holidays.


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My Story – by Aimee

A Survivor's Story - A Tale of Hope and Recovery

Trigger Warning

Warning: This article may contain content that could disturb some readers. If reading this story causes you distress and you need support, please call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 (9am-5pm AEST, 7 days). Calls that cannot be answered directly will be returned as soon as possible, so please leave a message with your phone number, and state of residence.

My name is Aimee and I’m 27. I came out an underweight premature drug dependent baby, with asthma and constant colic. I was a very sickly kid with no immune system.

My mother always put her addictions first. When I was four years old the neighbours contacted DOCS about us. I have three sisters. Our father was a beautiful caring man who loved us with all his heart and he never did drugs. They separated when I was about five. He ended up getting very sick with cancer and passing away when I was just nine. After that, everything just got so much worse. 

Our mother was constantly high, passing out or overdosing. Neglect, physical abuse and feeling fearful were constant. My sister and I were so scared of her we slept together, sometimes with cupboards against our door. DOCS abuse childhood trauma recovery

She would lock us outside in the morning, didn’t send us to school, and then let us run away at night. She allowed random males in our house and was just constantly angry with us. Needle and sexual assault happened.

DOCS eventually realised. We would come and go out of her care. My sister and I became rebellious so she rang DOCS herself. We were announced wards of the state until we turned 18.

Between 9 -18 years of age I went through 12 DIFFERENT foster homes. Thanks Mum. Foster care was a traumatising experience. When I was 13 our mother died from an overdose.  I eventually found a stable long-term foster home but there were still difficulties because of what I had been through. Those were my favourite days living in a small town on NSW South Coast.

My foster father disciplined me the right way. He gave me something I never ever thought I’d have. A family. My own family. I ended up losing that foster father when I was 21 - a motorbike accident. That was one of the hardest things I have ever had to go through.

People think children get over things, but even when they "seem" to be okay, it’s the damage and changes in brain function that make them suffer.

So now, I’m left to constantly fight myself every day to just get up, be happy and survive. The traumas, memories, abuse and constantly living in fear made me think the worst of people because everyone had let me down, hurt me or died. It made me isolated. I don’t sleep very well because of all the nights I felt unsafe and had fight my own mother away. There are so many "triggers" around that take me back to the memories and create flashbacks. I have been constantly fatigued and sometimes I rely on sleeping just to stay alive and functioning. 

Complex PTSD, nobody asks for it. 

I’ve been blessed with an enormous amount of strength. Some days I don’t really think all this pain is worth it, but here I am - battling through. I think my biggest issue has been isolation and detachment. In the past 10 years I’ve spent more than half my time in bed sleeping. Bed has been my safe place.

Everyone new is scary, everything new is scary, and life is just scary. I tend to detach from humans and attach to animals and their unconditional love. I find going for a run with my dog helps put a spring back in my step. 

I have very little close family connection and my sisters and I don’t really discuss the past. I’ve been sharing a house with another person for 4 years now, it has been good to have a stable home. 

I can’t work full time because it’s too chaotic and overwhelming. I have a mobile hairdressing business and I can create my own kind of busy.  I stay in control, and I don’t feel overwhelmed.

Medication has mostly stopped working. I think medication is a vicious cycle that does not work for me because I find it hard to remember to take them. 

My full diagnosis includes depression, anxiety, prolonged grief, and ultimately complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I’ve been seeing a psychologist during this time. I find having a counsellor that understands trauma and isn’t afraid to dig deep is helping me. I don’t know how to open up and talk about just “whatever I want”, I tend to freeze, sweat and shutdown when they expect me to talk to them about anything so I really need a counsellor that “gets it”.

On my bad days I like to write about what’s on my mind and how I’m feeling - I write about flashbacks and memories. I practice yoga and dream of being free from my symptoms I’m pretty sure that my life is going to keep on getting better.

Aimee


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Education and Training - Schedule for 2018!

Another exciting year has passed for Blue Knot Foundation’s professional development training. In 2017, we held 54 professional development trainings and saw an increase in the total number of participants. From Darwin to Hobart to Mt Gambier to Rockhampton, our facilitators visited 22 cities across Australia. In 2018, we will betraining schedule holding training in our usual locations but will also be visiting places like Albury, Launceston and Coffs Harbour. 

Reflecting on this past year, we are excited to announce the courses we will be offering in 2018. We have restructured our training program and introduced some new courses. Our training structure acknowledges different skill levels, services and establishes a clearer pathway for professional development. Next year, we will be offering the following courses publicly; 

We will be running ‘Managing Vicarious Trauma in the Legal and Justice Sector’ and ‘Embedding Trauma-Informed Care and Practice for Managers’ in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. ‘Managing Vicarious Trauma in the Legal and Justice Sector’ has been designed for professionals working in this field and will explore vicarious trauma in the context of their work.‘Embedding Trauma-Informed Care and Practice for Managers’ is geared towards individuals on the management level and explores the managers’ role in implementing Trauma-Informed Care and Practice in their workplace.

We are also excited to announce a series of Masterclasses for 2018. The first two masterclasses for 2018 will be:

  • Trauma Informed Transgender and Gender Diverse Affirmative Care - Delivered by one of BKF’s most experienced facilitators; Dragan Zan Wright is a transgender psychotherapist and trainer who has worked extensively in the field of Gender Diversity, Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Practice.
  • Working with Psychosis and Trauma - Delivered by Mental Health Nurse of the Year for 2017; Matt Ball is renowned for his work on successfully working with people who experience psychosis through using Trauma Informed Care and Practice.

For further information, please see a list of our professional development training here. If you would like to register for a course, please visit our calendar of events - or call the training team on 02 8920 3611.


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Recovery Through Unity

BLUE KNOT DAY 2017

Blue Knot Day, held on Monday 16 October 2017, saw communities throughout Australia ‘Unite in Support of Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma’ through workplace morning teas, fundraisers, barbeques, community gatherings and faith-based events, and online, through the Blue Knot Day social media campaign, ‘#unitebkd2017’.

A special thank you to our Blue Knot Day sponsors, Shine Lawyers, for supporting Blue Knot Day events across Australia, the social media campaign, and the Blue Knot Day Photography Competition (winning details announced next issue!).

“Shine Lawyers and Blue Knot Foundation share a common objective: improving the lives of those who have been affected by childhood trauma and abuse. As supporters of Blue Knot Foundation, we’re proud to lend our voice to Blue Knot Day and strengthen awareness surrounding the impacts of childhood abuse”, said Lisa Flynn, National Special Counsel - Abuse Law, Shine Lawyers.

Our gratitude also extends to all Blue Knot Day event organisers and volunteers who have once again helped to raise awareness of the 1 in 4 million Australian adults who have experienced childhood trauma. 

This year Blue Knot Day featured a range of community, faith-based and corporate events, in which different people and organisations united to recognise that healing and recovery from childhood trauma cannot occur in isolation, but through mutual support and sharing.

In the community

CQ Services Supporting Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (CQSSASCA), a local stakeholders group, came together at Cameron’s Corner in Rockhampton this year, to engage the community and raise awareness.

Community participants contributed their artistic skills and encouraging words to decorate thongs that were then put together for a display in the local library (pictured). “It was a privilege to witness our diverse community coming together to support adult survivors – co-created art is such an inspiring way to show our unity on the path forward”, said Aaron Kenney, one of the event organisers. CQ’s Blue Knot Day was held on Monday 16 October and included a barbeque, with informational resources available to help build awareness and connect people to support.  

In this issue of Breaking Free we are also delighted to congratulate Yvonne Tuohy (pictured), who kicked off Blue Knot Day in the Medibank Marathon Melbourne Festival on Sunday 15th October, and who has raised a staggering $4,500 for Blue Knot Foundation! 

“I was thrilled to run in the Medibank Marathon for Blue Knot Foundation”, said Yvonne. “As a survivor it was so important for me to help other survivors and to raise awareness that support is out there and we are not in this alone”. 

Faith Based Events

People of all faiths came together to show their support for adult survivors of childhood trauma during October. Faith based events this year included local community services and fundraisers, an inter-faith service held at Pitt Street Uniting Church, Sydney with representatives from Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Ba’hai, Muslim and Christian faiths, and an evening service at St Mary's Catholic Church in Greensborough, Victoria, which featured guest speaker, Francis Sullivan, CEO of Truth, Justice and Healing Council. 

Faith based groups across Australia united alongside survivors, friends, families and communities on Blue Knot Day, with St John the Baptist Cathedral at Murray Bridge, SA (pictured) showing their support through illuminating the Cathedral blue over Blue Knot week! 

Don’t Tell Movie Screenings

 

Blue Knot Day also featured two private screenings of the highly acclaimed Australian movie, ‘Don’t Tell’, depicting a true story of “a young woman who fought back after enduring sexual abuse at a prestigious private school”. 

Based on true events that changed Australian child protection laws, ‘Don’t Tell’ was screened by Folonomo Restaurant in Sydney (pictured), organised by Blue Knot Day supporter Belinda Bentley, and at the Australian Psychological Society Sydney Branch, organised by Blue Knot Foundation Director and Company Secretary, Terry Kirkpatrick. 

Folonomo, Sydney’s first ‘profit for purpose’ restaurant, is an enterprise of The Pure Foundation, a charitable trust which donates 100% of profits to a range of not for profit causes. 

“It was a natural fit for me to screen the movie at Folonomo”, said Belinda. “The event attracted a range of guests from the corporate and giving communities and I was delighted with the interest shown in the Blue Knot Foundation and to be able to help connect networks together to support adult survivors of childhood trauma”.  

Earlier in the month we also saw the screening of ‘Don’t Tell’ at the Australian Psychological Society Sydney branch. Event organiser Terry Kirkpatrick said, “The event was completely sold out and it was so encouraging to see such support from the society, with the evening attracting a diverse cross section of APS Sydney members. The movie sparked discussions and the question and answer session provided a platform to highlight the need for dedicated support services for adult survivors of childhood trauma”.

Uniting in the workplace

Many organisations helped raise awareness this year by promoting Blue Knot Day through their own networks, newsletters, social media and workplace events.

Workplace morning and afternoon teas, lunches and fundraising events are a vital component of Blue Knot Day, helping to raise awareness of the impacts of childhood trauma and to communicate the message that help is available. 

One such organisation is West Gippsland Healthcare Group, who held a Blue Knot Day morning tea, organised by Margaret Locarnini, Occupational Therapist. “I came to understand that so many of our clients have complex trauma issues that impact on their physical and mental health”, said Margaret. “And that it is important for us to understand this when we are delivering our program”. 

Margaret’s famous Blueberry Treats (pictured) made a splash at the organisation’s morning tea, helping to raise over $130 (greatly exceeding the initial $30 fundraising target!). 

As proud Event Partners of Blue Knot Day 2017, Shine Lawyers’ branches also united to raise support for Blue Knot Day. Team members (pictured) were delighted to get involved by turning their weekly morning tea blue, sharing blue-themed treats and coming together to reflect on the important message of the day. 

Our thanks to all our community partners who held Blue Knot Day events in the workplace this year, and continue to work with us to support adult survivors of childhood trauma. 

We would like to thank everyone who participated in any way, big or small, to the success of Blue Knot Day this year, and for helping to unite across the country in support of adult survivors of childhood trauma. This will be the final Breaking Free fundraising round up for the year, and as always, if you have a fundraising idea, would like to raise awareness in your community, or would like to find out more about how you can get involved in Blue Knot Day, please get in touch. Blue Knot Foundation Fundraising Manager, Cath James, can be contacted on 0472 995 859 or cjames@blueknot.org.au


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IN THE NEWS

Royal Commission finding

Key finding from a report on Catholic church authorities in Ballarat published by the child abuse royal commission...

Read full article here.


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Fighting Against The Culture Of Disbelief And Denial

As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse comes to a head, a series of articles have been published by Australian media to cast disbelief over the credibility of child sexual abuse victims, writes Dr Cathy Kezelman, president of Blue Knot Foundation....

Read full article here.


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Royal Commission criticism of Melbourne Archdiocese

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered a withering assessment of the Archdiocese's handling of clerical abuse...

Read full article here.


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Major impacts of domestic violence and childhood trauma

A new report by the NSW Domestic Violence Deaths Review team shows a connection between family violence...

Read full article here.


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Salvation Army officers' child speaks out on decade of alleged abuse

Ms Wake hopes that by speaking out about her experiences, other officers' children might feel able to confront the Salvation Army and get redress...

Read full article here.


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Protect children and help victims

The need for ongoing help for adult survivors of child sexual abuse is being overshadowed by necessary reforms to prevent others from becoming victims, a victims' advocate fears...

Read full article here.


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Disclaimer - Blue Knot Foundation makes every effort to provide readers of its website and newsletters with information which is accurate and helpful. It is not however a substitute for counselling or professional advice. While all attempts have been made to verify all information provided, Blue Knot Foundation cannot guarantee and does not assume any responsibility for currency, errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the information provided.