If you have experienced childhood trauma, you can speak with a Blue Knot Helpline trauma counsellor including for support and applications around national redress

1300 657 380
Monday - Sunday
between 9am - 5pm AEST
or via email helpline@blueknot.org.au


Do you live with disability?  Have you experienced abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation?

For support for Disability Royal Commission or general support contact our National Counselling & Referral Service

1800 421 468
9am - 6pm AEST Mon- Fri
9am - 5pm AEST Sat, Sun & public holidays


Month of newsletter

July 2018 NewsletterShare on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

In this issue you can read about the generosity of our Blue Knot community.

We are grateful for the many donors who contributed to our Annual End Of Financial Year Appeal.

Read about the hugely successful special fundraising exhibition held in Melbourne’s DAX Centre.

Combined these initiatives and helped us secure sufficient funds to run a series of educational workshops for survivors, one in every state and territory. We have included a wonderful testimonial shared by one of our workshop attendees last year.

Plans are formulating for Blue Knot Day 29 October. We are encouraged by the range of ideas and individual ways different people seek to contribute to raise awareness.

In the ‘Self Care Resources’ section we introduce a free app that is brimming with suggestions and information that could be helpful for you or someone you think could benefit.

Our feature article this month provides you with an overview on the effects of trauma on the brain explaining the good news for recovery from neuroscience, highlighting 8 key points.

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

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Dax Centre - Fundraising event in Melbourne

One Moment at a Time

A special fundraising event to support adult survivors of childhood trauma was held on Friday 6th July at The Dax Centre, Melbourne, with proceeds of almost $25,000 going to support Blue Knot Foundation, and The Dax Centre - which works closely with artists and communities to increase understanding of mental illness and psychological trauma.

The fundraising event, supported by Creative Victoria, was held as part of the photography exhibition ‘Putting The Pieces Of The Self Together One Moment At A Time’ by Ballarat child abuse survivor and advocate, Peter Blenkiron, which ran throughout the month of July at The Dax Centre.

“We are delighted to have been part of this important exhibition which highlighted the long-term effects of childhood abuse and the need for support”, said Blue Knot Foundation President, Cathy Kezelman. “The funds raised at this event will go directly towards delivering Blue Knot Foundation Educational Workshops for Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma, supporting survivors navigate what can often be a long and complex journey of healing”.

Peter Blenkiron is a Ballarat child abuse survivor and advocate - one of the many survivors who testified to the Royal Commission. ‘Putting The Pieces Of The Self Together One Moment At A Time’ captures Peter’s journey of healing through the lens of a smartphone, offering a rare insight into the inner world of a child abuse survivor as he slowly learns to re-inhabit his body and mind. The exhibition is the vision of Vanessa Beetham, childhood friend and fellow advocate, and explores Peter’s healing process from the abuse he suffered when he was just 11 years old.

Our thanks to Peter, Vanessa, the team at The Dax Centre, Creative Victoria and everyone who so generously supported this event. Photography by Craig Holloway.

Dax Centre


Dax Centre

Dax Centre


Dax Centre

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A Writing Project for All Australians

The Grieve Writing Competition opens every year on Valentine’s Day – you know the measure of your love by the weight of your loss. Winners of this writing project, hosted by the Hunter Writers Centre will be announced during a digital live reading of the 22 prize winning pieces.  You can listen to this broadcast in the comfort of your own home with live streaming plus captions on Saturday 4th August at 2pm, for approximately 2 hours. The list of 110 finalists can be viewed here.

Make a diary note now and save this link so you can tune in on time. The Grieve Project.

Grieve - Hunter Writers Centre

Blue Knot Foundation is proud to be a sponsor of this worthwhile project. We recognise that whilst we support adults who have experienced all sorts of trauma, abuse and violence in childhood grief and loss is never far from the surface.

As Cathy Kezelman, Blue Knot Foundation President wrote for their website:

“Whether it is loss of childhood, of innocence, of meaning, of family or of possibility, Blue Knot works to help those affected to feel safe, rebuild trust and find a path to hope and healing. It is not about simply getting over it and getting on with it but it is about the support of others – listening, hearing and being there with and for one another. It’s about being human and sharing the vulnerabilities and sensitivities we all experience, at different times in our lives.

“My experience is that grief takes as long as it takes. Each and every person has their own experience, their own way of trying to deal with it, of processing their loss and an intensity of emotion, which at times, feels unrelenting and infinite. Yet as an organisation we daily witness the resilience of the human spirit, buoyed through connection and community, over time.

“Helping to judge some of the entries to the Grieve writing competition has been profoundly moving and humbling. The experiences of grief and loss, so deeply personal have presented works of raw honesty and lyrical imagery, metaphor and narrative rarely shared.”

Here is the link again if you would like to tune in for their poetry reading session on Saturday 4th August at 2pm.

Grieve - Hunter Writers Centre


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What Are The Effects Of Trauma On The Brain?

8 Key Points for Recovery and Good News from Neuroscience

By Jane Macnaught, Breaking Free Editor

Adapted from the Blue Knot Foundation Foundation's Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery  

“The structure and functioning of the mind and brain are shaped by experiences, especially those involving emotional relationships. The implications in terms of the impact of adverse experience – as for potential healing of such impact – are profound.” p55 BKF Practice Guidelines

Research in recent decades has established that the brain is neurologically plastic rather than what was believed in past decades i.e. that the brain was hard wired.

We now know that neurons can grow and repair - the brain changes with different experiences. Just as damaging experiences can cause negative impacts on nerve pathways so new positive experiences can promote healing. Changes can occur across the lifespan – neuroplasticity means the possibility for ongoing neural growth.

Neuroscience research illuminates the role of social and environmental impacts from the moment of birth, and even before. Life experiences actively influence and shape us via neural networks in the brain.

There is the critical and sensitive period very early in life when the ‘right’ brain or ‘emotional’ brain development is more dominant than the left ‘cognitive’ or ‘thinking’ brain.  Effective right brain development is dependent on early attachment experience, particularly although not exclusively with the primary caregiver.  The child’s attachment experience is crucial to a person’s sense of self and subsequent experience of trust, safety and the ability to empathise.

If early attachment experiences are not favourable, neural development and integration will be disrupted and this can impact many areas of a child’s development and well being. For example, right brain development is important for the crucial capacity to regulate self - emotions, levels of arousal and behaviours.  Supporting survivors to feel safe and develop the capacity to regulate their self is a particularly important part of trauma recovery work.

When a child has to focus on psychological and physical survival the brain is less able to spend time and energy on other crucial developmental tasks. In neuroscientific terms the child stays mostly within a ‘survival brain’ and less within a ‘learning brain’. This means that the child is more susceptible to ongoing traumatic stress, is less able to establish secure relationships,  and  finds it hard to feel safe and self-regulate. These challenges can persist into adulthood if the child, adolescent and adult don’t receive the support needed for recovery. .

There is a burgeoning field of research on trauma recovery showing the way that the brain changes over time – positively.  Knowing about this radically changes the way survivors can understand their own recovery journeys and how trauma specialists can support recovery for trauma survivors of all ages.

Blue Knot Foundation delivers training to help build the capacity of professionals and other personnel in supporting recovery. It also offers educational workshops for adult survivors of childhood trauma, as well as for their family, friends, partners and loved ones. These full day workshops provide information and self-care strategies to support participants on their personal journey of recovery; or for family, friends and partners, strategies to support their loved ones while caring for themselves. Details on these workshops will be released in Breaking Free.

What are the effects of Trauma on the Brain?

8 Key Points

Adapted from the Blue Knot Foundation Fact Sheet Towards Recovery

1. *** It is possible to heal from childhood trauma. Research shows that with the right support, even severe early life trauma can be resolved. It also shows that when an adult has resolved their childhood trauma, it benefits their children.

2. *** Survivors of childhood abuse and trauma are often on `high alert’. Even minor stress can trigger seemingly `out of proportion’ responses. Your body can continue to react as if you are still in danger, and this can be explained as a ‘normal’ response to unresolved early adverse experiences.

3. *** Coping mechanisms develop for a reason, serve a purpose, most commonly to help with self-regulation and can be highly effective in the short term. But some methods of coping (e.g. excessive alcohol use) can be risky, addictions (to food, sex, drugs), avoidance of contact with others (which reinforces isolation) and compulsive behaviours of various kinds can become problematic over time.

4. ***Replacing unhealthy coping mechanisms with healthy ones is a very important part of healing but can also be very challenging. It is not about ‘will power alone’. Rather it is an ongoing process in which appropriate counselling and support can be of enormous value. 

5. *** The recovery process involves several components, which can include positive relationships with others as well as counselling or therapy. Best practice therapy for childhood (`complex’) trauma takes place in a number of phases, which don’t necessarily occur in strict order. Phase 1 is about safety and feeling more stable internally, Phase 2 is about being able to `process’ the trauma/s and Phase 3 is about adjusting to `life after trauma’. The ability to manage your internal states and develop self regulation skills (Phase 1) is central to all aspects of recovery.

6. *** Basic knowledge of the brain can assist the recovery process. From `top down’, the brain comprises the cortex (thinking, reflective capacity), limbic system (emotions) and brain stem (arousal states; includes `survival’ responses). Under stress, `lower’ (brain stem) responses dominate (flow `bottom up’) and limit ability to be calm, reflect, and respond flexibly.

7. *** Survivors are vulnerable to overwhelm from lower brain stem responses (`easily triggered’). But everyone can experience stress, which restricts `higher brain’ functioning. This is not `personal weakness’, but how the brain functions (it is just more marked for survivors). A range of soothing and stabilising strategies, which different people find useful, are helpful.

8. *** Putting supports in place when embarking on the recovery process is important. You can call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 (EST 9.00am – 5.00pm seven days) for short-term professional counselling support, information and referrals.

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My Story - Anon


My Story abuse survivor's story


A sunny Saturday in the city of Sydney.

A conference room filled with thirty six people.

Thirty six people whose rights as children had been violated. Their innocence stolen and the chronic, debilitating fallout, a lifetime legacy. Their common bond.

I was one of those thirty six people. I felt at home that day. No one needed to explain anything. We all knew.

Sure, there were different stories, with varying forms of trauma and maltreatment, but we all talked the same language. Used the same words.

Shame, depression, anxiety, PTSD, recovery.

The facilitator was knowledgeable, calm and measured. He had a big job. He had some very damaged and fragile people in his room that day.

One poor soul’s prolonged traumas as a child were so horrific that she had adapted twenty six different personalities to try and cope.

Now in her fifties, the only word that sprung to mind was courageous. What a woman.

The frequent breaks during the day were welcome, giving us the opportunity to share our stories with other attendees.

Stories that normally were locked away.

Who could ever understand.

All part of our social isolation.

That Saturday, those stories poured out like water released from a walled up dam.

How cathartic was that.

In fact, how cathartic was the whole day.

I left with the warmth of knowing I am not alone and the benefit of some new tools to assist me in my journey of recovery.

Thank you to the Blue Knot Foundation for just being there.


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EOFY Fundraising Campaign 2018

Set of Survivor Workshops Fully Funded

Thanks To Community Support

EOFY campaign 2018 was a success

We are delighted to announce that, thanks to the support of the Blue Knot community, we have exceeded our end of financial year fundraising goal of $50,000, enabling us to deliver Educational Workshops for Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma, in each State and Territory over the next 12 months.

 A combination of donations made via the online fundraising appeal, direct donations and funds raised through the ‘Putting The Piece Of The Self Together One Moment At A Time’ photography exhibition, (see other article in this issue) we have raised a total of $52,375.99!

 “It’s tremendous to see such support in the community and to be able to achieve this goal together”, said Cath James, Blue Knot Foundation Fundraising Manager. “The workshops are only made possible through the generosity of the community and we thank everyone who supported this appeal. Many people made donations and others promoted the message; sharing the appeal and posting comments on social media, enabling us to raise more funds and awareness”.

The fundraising appeal ran from Monday June 18 until Saturday June 30, and attracted many positive and encouraging comments, such as:

 "Blue Knot is helping those with previous trauma get the best help possible. Please consider donating to support their valuable work”

 “Thank you for providing the insightful information for those who seek assistance to understand the impact of childhood trauma”

 “Keep up the great work. What a wonderful idea to provide educational workshop for survivors of childhood trauma. I have attended 2 of your training courses for practitioners and I was extremely impressed by the dedication of your trainers and staff. I urge everyone to support you”

 “I love the Blue Knot work does and the great info and training they provide to me as a health professional. It is always a source of inspiration for my client work”

Survivor workshops are designed to provide a safe space for people who have experienced abuse or trauma in childhood, to learn more about what that experience means and how it may have affected then and now. The workshops focus on raising awareness of survivors’ strengths and resilience, the role of coping strategies, how the brain responds to stress, and most importantly research which shows that recovery is possible.

All training and education is grounded in the latest research presented in Blue Knot Foundation's Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery and other relevant research, and participants who have attended the workshops have provided Blue Knot with positive ongoing feedback, including describing the sessions as ‘life changing’.

If you would like to find out more about Blue Knot Foundation Educational Workshops for Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma click here.

 ***National Workshop Dates Will Be Announced In Coming Issues Of This Newsletter as well as on the website ***


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Fundraising Article

The Sky Is The Limit 

Blue Knot Day 29th October

Blue Knot Foundation's national awareness day held on the last Monday in October, invites all Australians to unite in support of the 5 million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. 

Everyone can help. In the past some people have raised awareness through dyeing their hair blue while others have organised blue lights to illuminate bridges, buildings and to celebrate Blue Knot’s 21st birthday in 2016, the Sydney Opera House was floodlit blue… what ideas might be possible this year? 

We’d love to hear from you. 

The tangled knot in the Blue Knot Foundation logo symbolises the complexity of childhood trauma, with blue representing the colour of the sky; the clear blue sky providing the space for new possibilities. 

What possibilities might there be to raise awareness in your community? 

Many Breaking Free readers have hosted events locally such as workplace morning teas or community gatherings. To see highlights from recent years please visit our website. If you would like to raise awareness, fundraise, promote Blue Knot Day on social media, organize a community event such as a workplace morning tea, community BBQ, trivia night, fun run teams, faith based events, please let us know 

Blue Knot Day pins and bracelets offer a simple and effective way to raise awareness and can also be great conversation starters. These are now available for sale online ($20 for pack of 5 pins or $25 for a pack of 5 bracelets). 

Blue Knot Day will be held on Monday October 29th, with activities and events taking place across Australia, throughout the week until Sunday 4th November, 2018 

To get involved, please take a look at our website or email Blue Knot Foundation Fundraising Manager, Cath James at cjames@blueknot.org.au

Blue opera House

Blue Knot Day Fundraising

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In this section, we will review self care/help resources our Blue Knot Helpline counselling team collects to share with people who call the Helpline. We are delighted to share these ideas with our Breaking Free readers. What is helpful for one person may not be right for someone else so please experiment, explore and find what suits you.

What's Up?

What's Up - Itunes App 

This is a useful app, free to use with a clever design, simple layout, many ideas to try and offers good information. The strategies are presented in a format that is interactive, colorful and engaging. The designers have included a calming time pause between each section.

Help Right Now

The Help Right Now tab takes you to a list of suggestions that may be useful if you are looking for supportive ideas.  One section called “Get Grounded” presents a series of prompts in a simple game format that invites you to name 5 things that you can either see or recall, it’s a creative list of suggestions. Your focus on the prompted topics can help you ground yourself. The app is designed to keep you engaged as long as you need the supportive activity.

Other sections include activities to help keep you in the present, and one is titled

“Breathing Control”, with simple step by step instructions. In “Uplifting Quotes” you can read their collection of quotes, and you can also add your favourites.

A large section covers coping strategies – how to cope with thoughts and feelings. Another area has in depth information on Anger, Anxiety, Depression, Self Esteem and Stress. There is a section for you to  keep a diary, track helpful and less helpful habits or make notes.



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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.

Contact Us

Phone: 02 8920 3611
PO Box 597 Milsons Point NSW 1565
Hours: Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST

Blue Knot Helpline
Phone: 1300 657 380
Email: helpline@blueknot.org.au 
Hours: Mon-Sun, 9am-5pm AEST

For media comment, please contact:
Dr Cathy Kezelman
+61 425 812 197
+61 2 8920 3611
or ckezelman@blueknot.org.au

For media enquiries, please contact: 
Jo Scard
+61 457 725 953 
or jo@fiftyacres.com