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Once again, Blue Knot Day in 2015 was a great success. This year's theme of "supportive communities help survivors recover" asked communities to be receptive and supportive of the survivors who live among them. In response, 23 registered events were organised around the country by local groups, organisations, churches and individuals to mark Blue Knot Day (Monday 26th October) and the week surrounding it.
To see the array of media generated around Blue Knot Day, please click here>>
Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA) thanks those passionate event organisers for their dedication and support. Below are some highlights from various events:
This year the opening event was hosted at Government House in Sydney by His Excellency The Honourable TF Bathurst AC, Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Bathurst on behalf of The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret’d) and Mrs Linda Hurley.
We were delighted for Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA) and the needs of survivors to be honoured in this way and in the glorious surroundings of the official residence of the Governor of NSW on Sydney harbour. It gave Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA) staff, board, Advisory Panel members and Ambassadors an opportunity to mingle with other survivor and professional organisations, corporate and community supporters and government representatives.
While restricted in the numbers of invitees who could attend, we felt the generosity of Government House in hosting this event opened up a new community to us – one which united in support of Blue Knot Day. We would like to thank everyone for their messages of support and give special thanks to the individuals and groups that hosted activities and events around the country.
To read Blue Knot Foundation President, Dr Cathy Kezelman’s, speech at Government House, please click here>>
On October 24, the Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA) team hosted its own community event and ran an awareness-raising stall at the Kirribilli Markets in Sydney. The stall showcased the Blue Knot theme and raised much-needed funds through the sale of Blue Knot cupcakes generously donated by Michelle Camp Cakes, blue fairy floss and toffee apples. Through the stall we disseminated information speaking to shoppers about the ways in which Blue Knot Foundation is helping to improve the lives of Australian adults who have experienced childhood trauma and abuse. Catherine, from the Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA) team, performed with her band Soul Deep and entertained people passing by.
Pitt St Uniting Church in conjunction with South Sydney Uniting Church held a multi-faith prayer service of lament and hope marking Blue Knot Day. The Blue Knot Day service – led by Reverends Margaret Mayman and Andrew Collis, held on October 31 – was a significant and moving occasion.
The representatives of the different groups who gathered to acknowledge the suffering of adult survivors were: Tim Gray (Indigenous peoples), Father Peter Maher (Catholic Church), Kati Haworth (Jewish peoples), Adita Meagher (Buddhist faith), Pundit Nanda Majarajah Das (Hindu faith), Nicholas Ng, representing the many other faiths, and Cathy Kezelman, representing the survivors of child abuse.
They all shared the convictions that by showing a united front they strengthened the sense of community support felt by victims of childhood abuse, increased awareness in the wider community of the pervasiveness of the issue and emphasised the connection between faiths rather than their differences.
Lengths of knotted blue ribbons streamed from the altar table and looped over the arms of the pews, symbolising the way in which the emotions and lives of the victims have been tangled and distorted by abuse. Also waiting on the altar were seven candles, each to be lit by a representative who gave voice to different ways in which this dark and knotty social problem might be illumined and how healing might be achieved.
Four readings from different faith traditions gave comfort and assurance to those in pain or despair.
Later, the wonderful story of recovery told by Karen Synnott made a deep and powerful impression on listeners. Her personal experience of untangling the knots, recounted with integrity and much gratitude for those who supported her journey from despair to healing, offered hope to victims and lifted every heart in the gathering.
“Depression is not a sign of being weak,” Karen said, “but a sign of being too strong for too long.”
Click here to read the narrative of events.
The Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC) showed its support for Blue Knot Day by creating a blue wall of ‘helping hands’ inside its courtyard area and providing blue cupcakes to staff for a gold coin donation. The decision to participate in Blue Knot Day stemmed from one of the staff members, who had been discussing the numbers of counselling clients at SARC who have experienced child sexual assault. The centre believes it is important to support initiatives such as Blue Knot Day and the team wanted to contribute to Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA) in a small way, but also to have a little fun with the concepts of community and support. The team wanted to do something to demonstrate the link with the community and show that there are ‘helping hands’ available.
The entire team participated in the event. The infrastructure support team assisted in preparing the fence and sealing it afterwards with a clear varnish to protect the results. All of the staff had the opportunity to print their hands on the fence for a gold coin donation. The group also shared a luncheon and some bright blue cupcakes while dabbling in finger-painting.
On October 26, Relationships Australia Queensland (RAQ) held two separate events in support of Blue Knot Foundation's (then ASCA) Blue Knot Day.
In Brisbane, Spring Hill RAQ held a barbecue at New Farm Park alongside the scenic Brisbane River. This event was open to all members of the community including, community and health services. Approximately 20-25 people attended the event – a good mix of young and old, service providers, members of the public as well as curious passers-by. The event aimed to raise awareness of childhood trauma, distribute information on available support services and connect people though sharing of
experiences, banter and food (homemade cupcakes included).
In Rockhampton, the RAQ staff also held a barbecue attended by 25 people from the regional community, including a council member and patrons and staff from Lotus Place, a service for Forgotten Australians. A giving local butcher donated the sausages for the event and other small businesses generously provided desserts (yum!). During the lunch, a lived-experience speaker shared his experiences and did an excellent job in communicating that ‘recovery is possible’. All attendees wore a Blue Knot pin and enjoyed Blue Knot themed cupcakes made by a clever RAQ staff member.
The South Australia Professional Standards Office hosted a Blue Knot Day event where Adelaide Vicar General Fr Philip Marshall restated the Adelaide Archdiocese’s commitment to safeguarding children and responding with care and compassion to victims and adult survivors of child sexual abuse.
Fr Marshall outlined the important work of the Police Check Unit, Child Protection Unit and SA Professional Standards Office to a gathering of Diocesan and Centacare Catholic Family Services staff as part of the national awareness-raising day initiated by Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA).
He also praised the work of Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA) in highlighting that there are many Australians who have been subjected to childhood sexual, emotional, physical, and spiritual abuse and neglect.
The Vicar General Fr Marshall shared the current national statistics on child abuse in Australia and said: “These statistics shed a deeply disturbing light on how unsafe our children really are in this society and more needs to be done to ensure their safety and hold accountable those who harm them.”
Attendees were provided with sample bags containing brochures and information for people on services for survivors of abuse, the rights of children, child migrants, rape and sexual assault and the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Each participant was also provided with a Blue Knot Prayer Card written specially for Blue Knot Day Service by Blue Knot Foundation (then ASCA).
St Mary's Catholic Church in Greensborough holding a prayer and reflection in support of Blue Knot Day: