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

June 2021Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor


Welcome to this month’s Breaking Free.  COVID-19 continues to affect the nation and this month we focus on what this means for everyone  but especially survivors of complex trauma.  Continued lockdown, uncertainty around employment, isolation, and the subsequent impact is taking its toll on many of us, including on our mental health.  Whilst we are all affected to varying degrees, survivors of complex trauma often are already coping with the effects of stress and anxiety.  Our feature article acknowledges these challenges, and offers some strategies to help and support yourself and others around you during this really difficult time.

We’ve also included our COVID-19 fact sheets that go into more detail around Taking Care of Yourself and Others, COVID-19 for Practitioners and Health Care Workers, and Face Masks and Complex Trauma.  These were released last year when the pandemic first emerged in Australia, and many people found them helpful.

The National Mental Health Commission has also acknowledged that pandemic fatigue is real.  They have just launched a campaign to help raise awareness around recognising the signs of pandemic fatigue in yourself and others, and ways to overcome those feelings.  If you or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed it can be useful to talk to someone you trust, your GP or a family member, or contact Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Services on 1800 512 348.

We’d also like to thank the many donors and supporters who contributed to our end of financial year campaign fundraiser.  We are humbled by the response, and grateful to the wonderful community that continues to support the life-changing work that we do at Blue Knot.  Thank you again for helping us help others. And a special call out to our Ambassador Damien Rider for rising to the heights for a cause he believes in and for his support of Blue Knot and our work.

Until next time, take care.

The Blue Knot Team

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Fact sheets for COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronvirus), Blue Knot have prepared some fact sheets to help members of the community, as well as health professionals take care of themselves and others during this challenging time:

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Sibling rivalry or sibling abuse? The warning signs for parents

Bryan never told his parents about the abuse he faced from his brother. Read more

Hospital admissions up to eight times higher for Australians with intellectual disability

Disability advocates say study findings point to urgent need for improved preventative healthcare. Read more

Australian of the Year Grace Tame says changing attitudes around sexual assault is a "slow process".

Grace Tame says change is a marathon effort. But Australia Talks data shows our perception of sexual assault is changing. Read more

Disability Royal Commission hears of shocking threats to disability care resident in SA

A disability care resident received threats in an anonymous letter the Disability Royal Commission has heard. Read more

The Catholic Church just overhauled its laws on sexual abuse. What effect will this have?

The changes will be less significant in Australia, after the royal commission into child sex abuse. Read more

Vatican laws changed to toughen sexual abuse punishment

Pope Francis has changed the Roman Catholic Church's laws to explicitly criminalise sexual abuse. It is the biggest overhaul of the criminal code for nearly 40 years. Read more

Review puts parliamentary bullying, sexual harassment and assault on the table

Parliamentary staff, including interns, subcontractors and contractors, will be given a voice about their treatment in the workplace as part of a review led by Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins. Read more

‘It was a cover up’: Perth mother of Trinity student sexually assaulted by peers breaks silence

A mother whose teenage son was sexually abused by fellow students at one of Perth’s most prestigious private boys’ schools claims the school’s response was one of “silence and secrecy”. Read more

Britney Spears case highlights issue of reproductive coercion, which causes suffering for many Australian women

An Australian women's advocate says many in this country do not have control of their own reproductive rights, in the wake of Britney Spears's evidence at her conservatorship hearing in the US. Read more

Indigenous survivors add voice to growing concerns over National Redress Scheme following critical review

After decades of living with trauma from the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of Catholic institutions, Nyul Nyul man David Francis received compensation earlier this year through the National Redress Scheme. Read more

NDIS users call for overhaul of 'traumatic' process amid reviews

Ms Mitchell relies on the National Disability Insurance Scheme to help with that care, but she says she feel it has "lost its way", with funding applications so "traumatic" she is paying out of pocket instead. Read more

Government response to National Redress Scheme review welcomed

A review of the National Redress Scheme, commissioned by the federal government, has today been released by Social Services Minister, Anne Ruston. Read more

Disability royal commission privacy concerns still not addressed after two years

Important amendments to the Royal Commission Act designed to protect the identity of witnesses beyond the end of the inquiry still haven't been enacted despite the belief they will result in a large number of fresh submissions. Read more

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Coronavirus and Complex Trauma

Experiences of trauma are common. It is estimated that about 75% of people will experience a traumatic event during their life. Each of these events can affect the person in all sorts of ways and their pathways to recovery and growth beyond the trauma vary enormously.  Complex trauma, however, often has greater impacts than the trauma of a single incident. Complex trauma is repeated, often extreme, and in many cases ongoing. This includes experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation – experienced as a child, young person or adult or complex trauma. Many people, with the right support, also recover from the effects of their complex trauma showing remarkable resilience and for many finding new meaning and connection in their process.

The reality is that new traumas often additionally affect people who have experienced prior traumas. Of course, trauma affects us all in different ways but those living with the impacts of complex trauma, can be affected more than people whose lives have been less affected by traumatic stress. And the effects of the different sorts of trauma can build on one another over time. The last almost 18 months have been a time of uncertainty for the whole world, and we, in Australia, although relatively protected by sea, have not been immune from Coronavirus. While the periodic closing of borders to keep us safer overall, it has also, for many, created additional stresses and disconnection from loved ones and supports.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought fear, illness and ongoing threat. It has been an emotional merry-go-round, not knowing where the next outbreak might occur, who might be infected and how badly. It is to be expected that we might feel overwhelmed at times. The good news is that there are improvements in treatments for COVID and vaccines are being rolled out, although somewhat slower than we would hope. The pandemic has been and remains traumatic, and many of us have experiences assaults to our mental health - through fear, anxiety and enforced physical distancing, social isolation, lockdowns, restrictions and the ever present not knowing.  Businesses have closed, and jobs have been threatened or lost. Services have shut and the supports many people depend on, are no longer as readily available. Life as we knew it is less predictable than it once was. The time of COVID-19, and this is still a time of flux, has created numerous additional stresses for many. 

While the sense of uncertainty and threat can be hard for anyone, it can be particularly hard for people who are already living with the effects of previous traumas, especially complex trauma. That’s why it’s important for us to be as gentle on ourselves as we can be and do what we can to look after ourselves, those we care about, and our communities. We also need to support one another and ourselves to stay as grounded as possible, and to walk alongside one another through this difficult time as much as we can. 

As always, and even more so during these times, it’s important to focus on the activities and daily routines which we have found have helped to support our sense of wellbeing before. Doing this is not a straight path for many but this is about doing what is achievable, and what has helped before and can help again.

Although some familiar practices may need to be varied during this period, because of restrictions, the following may be helpful. It’s up to you to choose what to try, and to know that you might not be able to do all of these things, and for some people, any of them. So be kind to yourself and see if any of these suggestions are helpful for you:

o trying to get some restful sleep – as much as possible for you
o eating as well as you can and drinking lots of water
o staying active and exercising within your capacity and restrictions
o doing things that you find supportive for you – being creative or stepping outside. Whatever helps you feel better and keeps you safe as circumstances change
o staying informed from reliable sources but taking a break if and when you are feeling overwhelmed. Be careful not to follow misinformation 
o making a plan around how to stay connected to the important people in your life and reaching out when you need to, and are able 
o regularly practising strategies which help you to calm your nervous system and self-soothe such as yoga, mindfulness, meditation – we are all individuals so whatever works for you
o trying not to use too much medication when doing so has not been prescribed or recommended
o limiting your use of alcohol and drugs as much as possible
o reaching out in safe ways as public health advice changes
o listen to music, watching or reading something you find uplifting or distraction

It is understandable to feel concerned during this time. These are stressful times, and they can be anxiety provoking. Current anxiety can also trigger strong feelings and memories of previous traumas and can be a time when additional support may be needed.  If you or someone you care about would like to speak to one of our specialist trauma counsellors, reach out and please call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 between 9am and 5 pm Monday to Sunday AEST. 

If you are living with disability and are seeking emotional support, please call our National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468 between 9am and 6pm Monday to Friday AEST and between 9 am and 5pm Saturdays and Sundays.

For more information about how to care for yourself see https://www.blueknot.org.au/For-Survivors/Survivor-self-care

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Call for Survey Participants - Canadian Centre for Child Protection

*Trigger Warning - Child Sexual Abuse

Learning from survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and their protective family members is crucial to understanding the gaps in supports and services. We have been approached by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection for their support around two surveys. 

The first survey is an international survey seeking responses from survivors who had their child sexual abuse recorded. The second survey is for protective parents/guardians whose children experienced child sexual abuse that was recorded. Other family members impacted by the trauma are also welcome to complete the survey. 

The goals of these surveys is to help the world better understand the impacts of this crime and the challenges survivors and their families face. Not only is it an endeavour to keep children safe, engage survivors in driving change but it will also share insights with law enforcement, child protection workers, lawyers, judges, educators, and mental health professionals. To find out more about the initial outcomes of this survey and how to participate click here 

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Restoring Hope are looking for men to share their story

New 2021 Professional Development Calendar Out Now!

Blue Knot Foundation is pleased to announce its new professional development training calendar for the second half of 2021. This calendar includes face-to-face trainings, webinars and virtual classrooms. The trainings which are on offer for the second half of the year include: 

- Foundations for Building Trauma Awareness (one day)
- Trauma Awareness: Supporting People with a Disability (one day) 
- Using a Trauma Lens when working with Domestic and Family Violence (one day) 
- Trauma Responsive Leadership (one day)
- Managing Wellbeing and Recognising Vicarious Trauma (one day)
- Three Phased Approach: Safety and Stabilisation (one day) 
- Three Phased Approach: Processing and Integration (two days) 
- Trauma Informed Diversity Awareness - Masterclass 
- Building Trauma Awareness Webinar Series 

Click here to view our full training calendar

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Congratulations Damien Rider on smashing the balloon jump world record

Hearty congratulations to our Ambassador, Damien Rider who jumped off a hot air balloon at the Bluff City Balloon Jamboree in Collierville, Tennessee. Damien is an Australian from the Gold Coast – an ultra-endurance athlete, author, speaker and humanitarian. Damien was only the second person in the world to do the jump, having meditated on the top and enjoyed the sunrise prior to parachuting off.

The jump which broke three world records was breathtaking. Planned to go up to 13,000 feet, the height was limited to 7,500 feet as the balloon started to overheat. Damien is still planning to attempt the 13,000 feet record at a later date.

We would like to thank Damien for his support and also for fundraising on behalf of Blue Knot and the survivors we support. To put your support behind Damien please donate 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.