posted on October 28, 2014 16:30
ASCA’s annual Blue Knot Day 2014 opened with an event at Parliament House, Canberra. Hosted by Senator Catryna Bilyk and Mr. Ken Wyatt MP, co-convenors of PACAN (Parliamentarians against Child Abuse) we were delighted to welcome a crowd of supporters and interested parties including Senators, Members, staffers, survivors and friends.
Senator Bilyk opened the session and highlighted not only the scale of childhood trauma and abuse but its daily personal cost and challenges. We were delighted to welcome the Hon. Peter Dutton MP who spoke to the importance of providing support to adult survivors and the organisations which work with them. The Department of Health had provided funding under the e-mental health initiative (Teleweb), the provision of which supports ASCA 1300 Professional Support Line as well as online services. As part of the online services ASCA has developed under that funding is a series of videos, of which there are 5. Having watched a short excerpt from the survivors’ video the Minister officially launched the series. We thank him and his government for their ongoing support which is critical to the lives of so many.
Justice Peter McClellan, the Chair of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was our next speaker. In a speech which acknowledged the work of ASCA and its sister organisations, Justice McClellan reflected on the work of the Commission, from its first public hearing in April 2014, to its now 19th hearing and 2,500 survivors who have provided testimony in private sessions. In acknowledging the fundamental wrongs committed, and the devastation, grief, loss, pain and anger, Justice McClellan also highlighted the enduring capacity of people to love and care, despite the traumas perpetrated against them. He was at pains to note that child sexual abuse is not simply an issue of past years but a current one. He stressed that institutions must never have the power to silence children again or diminish the capacity of adults to protect them. Among many issues he covered was the need for survivors to have access to the right counselling support for as long as is needed, a requisite ASCA very strongly endorses. To read Justice McClellan’s speech click here
Dr. Cathy Kezelman, ASCA President, in acknowledging the work of Justice McClellan, the Commission, Commissioners and team talked about the importance of the Commission in changing the lives of Australian children, the adults they become and generations still to be born. She also provided a snapshot of research from ASCA’s 1300 line highlighting the role of the Commission in changing the capacity of Institutions to keep children safe and respond to child abuse and the needs of child and adult victims. Dr. Kezelman also noted that 90% of abuse, as per ASCA’s statistics, is perpetrated by a family member or friend, and that child sexual abuse, while insidious and damaging, is but one form of childhood trauma and abuse. She called for greater support for survivors of all forms of childhood trauma and abuse and investment commensurate with the need, having highlighted the profound impacts of unaddressed abuse. To read Dr. Kezelman’s speech click here
The official part of the opening event was concluded with a very personal speech by Mr. Ken Wyatt MP whose work in his own electorate repeatedly highlighted the needs of significant numbers of adult survivors. With the open dialogue which ensued between survivors, politicians and Justice McClellan, with one attendee personally thanking Justice McClellan for his work and that of the Commission, the event came to a poignant conclusion.
We owe a debt of gratitude to PACAN and its co-convenors and a special thanks to Senator Bilyk and her office, and in particular, Penny Brewer, EO to Senator Bilyk for working with ASCA’s Events and Marketing Manager, Prenessa Moodley on the logistics.
Here’s what Penny had to say about the event:
"It was wonderful to be able to work for Senator Bilyk and ASCA to help create such a well-received event. I was very glad to be able to assist in whatever way I could to help facilitate the day and make it work for you and your members. As an awareness day, it was fantastic to see so many people interested. It was a privilege to meet so many amazing and inspiring people, I was incredibly humbled. I will look very forward to working with you in the future. You truly are inspirational!!!
I truly went away from Monday recognising the good work that can be done."