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 AEDT
or via email helpline@blueknot.org.au


Do you need support for the Disability Royal Commission?
Contact our National Counselling & Referral Service on

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

June 2020Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

Welcome to the June edition of Breaking Free.  Without doubt, this year continues to present lots of challenges for our society and the world at large.  Against the backdrop of COVD-19 and political unrest, voices which were previously silenced are now demanding change.  The Black Lives Matter movement has shone a light across western society, spreading beyond police brutality, and across the full spectrum of racial discrimination and inequality and the trauma that entails.  Our lead article this month looks at the collective trauma related to discrimination and how it crosses generations such as with our First Nations People.  Hopefully this significant shift in public sentiment will enable us to build a harmonious community, in which fewer people and groups of people experience individual, collective and intergenerational trauma.

We have also included a new fact sheet around intergenerational trauma.

Lastly, we would like to thank everyone who kindly donated to our end of financial year donation drive.  We raised over $20,000 which will go directly to funding Survivor Workshops, helping us meet the overwhelming demand.  Once restrictions are eased due to COVD-19, we hope to get these life-changing workshops underway as soon as possible.  We can’t begin to express our gratitude for your contribution.

Take care
From the team at Blue Knot

If you have any comments about what you have read in this issue, contributions for the My Story section, or suggestions for future issues, please contact the editor at newsletter@blueknot.org.au

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New Fact Sheet - Intergenerational Trauma

This fact sheet provides a brief summary of the characteristics of intergenerational trauma, and the impact it has on individuals and groups of people, including when it crosses multiple generations when it is known as transgenerational trauma.

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Restoring Hope are looking for men to share their story



PM slams ‘reprehensible’ redress holdouts

Survivor support group Blue Knot Foundation president Cathy Kezelman said not joining the scheme was indefensible.

"Institutions which have failed to commit to joining the national redress scheme are showing that the same appalling lack of accountability and failure of moral rectitude that enabled children to be sexually abused on their watch continues unabated," Dr Kezelman said.

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Missed opportunity by Catholic Church to fund support for victims of child sexual abuse

The request by some dioceses of the Catholic Church asking priests and employees receiving JobKeeper payments to pay up to 50% back to the Church has massively missed an opportunity. That opportunity is to show that the Church has truly changed by calling for donations to build a fund to support victims of child sexual abuse.

Read more

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Whistleblower says abuse claims can't be aired at disability inquiry without protection

The public servant was involved in the closure of a privately owned facility they liken to a ‘19th century asylum’

Read more here

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Trump niece's bombshell book to detail family 'trauma, neglect and abuse'

According to Simon & Schuster, Mary L Trump will describe “a nightmare of traumas, destructive relationships, and a tragic combination of neglect and abuse” that explain the inner workings of “one of the world’s most powerful and dysfunctional families”.

Read more

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On Tuesday the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability released another issues paper which is specifically seeking information about the experiences of First Nations people with disabilities.

Read more

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New survey reveals the financial costs of COVID-19 for people with disability

People with disability are facing financial hardship and going days without food during the COVID-19 pandemic, new research reveals.  A survey from People with Disability Australia (PWDA) found that nine in 10 people with disability have experienced increased expenses due to the ongoing pandemic.

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Racism and Collective Trauma

“Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realise our need of one another.”  Desmond Tutu

More than 5 million Australian adults have experiences of interpersonal trauma (trauma between people). Interpersonal trauma, which is repeated, extreme and ongoing is called complex trauma. Complex trauma can occur at home, in the family, in services or in institutions. It can also occur within society and it can affect entire nations or peoples. When it affects groups of people or nations it is called collective trauma. Collective trauma is often spurned by intolerance and discrimination. 

Complex and collective trauma both also relate to abuse of power, inequality and injustice. Sadly, as the world grapples with the threat of COVID-19 many people are experiencing collective trauma, which in many cases is based on racial discrimination. Racial division is not new, but it has been brought front and centre as a result of the brutal death of George Floyd, at the hands of the police. As a result, many people around the world are protesting and asking the question: When will people who are different – in this case ‘people of colour’ be safe and protected from violence and brutality? 

As a result, the world is facing a crisis of collective conscience. The Black Lives Matter movement has arisen with a background of the global pandemic. In so doing it provides a critical time for reflection and change, and within Australia, an opportunity to stand in solidarity with our First Nations people as well, and question our conscience, as individuals and as a nation, as to our own inaction, and in some cases, violent abuse of power.

Our First Nations People have experienced generations of trauma. Some are the effects of colonisation and its policies. An example is the forced removal of children. This has broken important bonds between families and kin. It has also damaged connection to the land and place. This has caused a loss of cultural identity and safety, across generations. This is a time for us to listen and hear our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, to understand the trauma they have experienced and continue to experience. 

The conversation which has begun must continue because in Australia, the land of opportunity, opportunity needs to be shared. As a society as we battle Coronavirus together so too it is time to for all Australians to stop and take stock of the collective and individual trauma experienced every day by so many of our First Nations peoples. Until we address the root cause of injustice, discrimination, compounded disadvantage, nothing will fundamentally change. The opportunity is now, as the cost of inaction is extreme. 

Update on Training and Organisational Services

The Training and Services Team will be focused on planning to return to face to face training in the coming months. We know the community are eager to see our upcoming calendar and we hope to be able to share very soon. It will be offered in line with government restrictions so may look a little different for now, but all the details will be in our upcoming calendar. 

Consultations on organisational training are still occurring and one of the team would be happy to speak further about what we can provide for you and your teams. We offer packages of training and supervision to integrate both theory and practice. This supports teams to unpack key themes in a safe and meaningful way to take back to the workplace. 

Supervision both group and individual, are open and the team are still taking enquiries and bookings. If you want to organise your supervision before the end of the financial year we are taking pre-payment. 

For any enquiries please contact us by email at training@blueknot.org.au


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Podcast Review - Bessel van der Kolk

* Trigger Warning: This article may contain content that could disturb some readers. You may choose not to read it. If you do read this story and reading it causes you distress and you need support, please call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 (9am-5pm AEST, 7 days). 

"The single most important issue for traumatized people is to find a sense of safety in their own bodies." - Bessel van der Kolk

There are many wisdoms to ponder in this hopeful and rich conversation with Bessel van der Kolk about overwhelming experiences, occurrences we name as “trauma”. Possibly the most potent is the way the conversation empowers each of us to understand the way our bodies have been shaped by the brain’s attempts to take care of our bodies, and how to support our brain and body to reclaim a sense of safety: through the power of love, through the power of caring and human connection, commitment to oneself, knowledge that you cannot know the glory of life, without also knowing its darker places.

The nature of traumatic memory does not support people to develop a narrative: evoked images, sounds or physical sensations are the way the body experiences the world as unsafe. Trauma is imprinted in areas of the brain that make it hard to speak about, so the path to recovery invites us to speak, but also to bypass language, through exploring the way the experience is held in our body.

Trauma emotions are often expressed as intense experience, and we can shut down these feelings through external substances, like drugs and alcohol or internally, to cut off from the often intolerable sensations in our bodies. 

Van der Kolk’s work at the Trauma Centre in Massachusetts identifies many practices that can effectively support recovery by supporting the body to restore a sense of safety. Discharging stress hormones through movement, participating in sport, engaging in art, poetry and performance and singing, drumming or dancing: supporting our body’s natural urge to shift our energy through physical activity. Breath and heart rate become better synchronized with the ancient practice of yoga or martial arts, or tai chi or qi gong, practices that activate the parts of the brain that support regaining ownership of your internal experience, also helping the body to release the stiffening that can accompany difficult early life adversity. 

Crucially the conversation explores the capacity to be agents in our own recovery, to own ourselves and observe our bodily experience: the foundational experience of elementary body functions a body that can eat, sleep, rest, breathe, feel safe and to move. To have stared adversity in the face, to bear suffering and yet to retain our humanity and our faith: survivors having the courage to remember, but also to transcend.

Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist specialising in traumatic stress and is globally recognized for his contribution to understanding trauma and exploring effective recovery. A link to his book The Body Keeps the Score and other book recommendations are available on our website here.

Please feel free to call our Helpline Counsellors on 1300 657 380 9am-5pm 7 days a week AEST to explore the way Blue Knot can offer support.

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An Inspired Artwork

Thank you Kate Miller for sharing this beautiful artwork with us.  Kate was inspired to paint something for herself because she had just moved into a new home during the lockdown. She normally paints for others for their offices through her art group. The medium is acrylic and the "canvas" is the side of removalist box (cardboard).  Her 4 year-old son wanted a rainbow in the painting and the bottom of the trees to be as they are.

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Call for Study Participants

An Exploration of Adult Survivors of Childhood experiences of trauma: A retrospective study of the impact of companion animals.

The University of Queensland would like to invite interested participants in research that focuses on the connection between animals and people. In Australia, 62% of households have a pet living with them.

Maybe you have a pet living in your home now, or maybe you had a pet living with you when you were a child. This research aims to explore how past traumatic experiences may have been helped by the presence of a pet. The pet does not necessarily have to have lived with you. This research focusses on the attachment you felt to a pet when you were a child and how you feel toward a pet as an adult.

Download the information sheet for more information on the study.

Go here to complete the questionnaire

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National Counselling and Referral Service (NCRS) – expanded purpose

The National Counselling and Referral Service is now not only supporting people affected by the Disability Royal Commission. It is a key trauma-informed support for people with disability, family members, carers, advocates and workers who have experienced or witnessed abuse, neglect, violence and exploitation during these difficult times. Anyone who wishes to access this support does not need to make a submission or have any prior involvement with the Disability Royal Commission.

If you are living with disability (or are a family member of or caring for a person with disability) and 

- have experienced abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation 
- are currently experiencing abuse, neglect, violence or exploitation
- are distressed or anxious about coronavirus
- are affected by the Disability Royal Commission

You can call the National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468.   

This service operates from: 

• 9am-6pm AEST/AEDT Mon-Fri and 
• 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT Sat, Sun and public holidays.

Who the service is for:

- people with disabilities who have experienced violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation anywhere
- parents, guardians, other family members of a person with disability
- carers of a person with disability
- advocates for people with disability
- service providers or agencies working with people with disability
- employers or colleagues of a person with a disability

What the service provides:

- professional short-term counselling and support
- a gateway to frontline counselling services
- supported transfers to and from the Royal Commission, advocacy and legal support services
- information and referrals about other useful services
- information about trauma and distress and why people can feel overwhelmed

How to contact the National Counselling and Referral Service (NCRS) supporting the Disability Royal Commission

There are a number of different ways you can contact NCRS depending on your accessibility needs, and the type of service you require.  

Telephone:  Contact 1800 421 468 or 02 6146 1468 to speak with one of our counsellors for short term counselling support and referrals.

Video Conference (VC): VC is available to  people who have  restrictions around their ability to contact our counsellors via telephone.  Please  contact us first  by email at to ncrscounsellors@blueknot.org.au  You can call us yourself or with a support person on 1800 421 468 AEST to discuss accessing this service. This service is available for a single session with a focus on linking you with local and ongoing supports.

Webchat (WC): Webchat is available for people who require support, information or referrals.  Webchat is found at the bottom right of the screen our website.  It is not a counselling service. Please refer to the Webchat Terms and Conditions for further information should you choose to use this service.

SMS: SMS is available to people who have been in contact with us by phone or webchat and can be used to provide people with information or referrals. SMS contact 0451 266 601. It is not available for counselling support. 

N.B. This is a separate service from the Blue Knot Helpline which provides counselling, support, information to people with experiences of childhood trauma and for support around applications to the National Redress Scheme.

If in crisis, in need of immediate support or concerned for your safety:
Call Lifeline on 13 11 14. If you are currently experiencing any form of violence or abuse, or are concerned for your safety, call 000.

What you can expect when you call the National Counselling and Referral Service:

- Our counsellors are here to listen and support you
- Everyone’s experience of trauma is different, and everyone has different needs
- Counsellors will provide support in your call based on your needs
- Counsellors can refer you to longer term supports for ongoing counselling
- If you need an advocate, counsellors can refer you to an advocacy service
- Counsellors can also provide information about trauma and its impacts
- We try to answer each call when it rings and usually do
- Sometimes we won’t be able to answer straight away and you will be on hold until the next counsellor becomes available
- If you cannot wait on hold you are welcome to email our counselling team or have a support person email requesting that we call you back and we will do so as soon as possible


If you find it difficult to hear or speak you can contact us through the National Relay Service (NRS). Please phone 133 677.

If you find if challenging to use the telephone, you can contact the National Counselling and Referral Service supporting the Disability Royal Commission using video conferencing.  To do so please connect with us first via email at ncrscounsellors@blueknot.org.au or by calling us yourself or with a support person on 1800 421 468 AEST to discuss accessing this service.

If you require support in another language you can use the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) free of charge by:

Calling the National Counselling and Referral Service and asking for an interpreter. The counsellor will make the arrangements, or Calling TIS on 131 450 and asking to be connected to National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468.


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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.