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

November/December 2019Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via eMail Share on LinkedIn

From the Editor

Welcome to the November/December combined edition of Breaking Free.  As we head into the holiday season, it can be an intense and challenging time .  For survivors of complex trauma, this time of year can be especially difficult. For some, when others go away, feels of isolation and loss can be difficult. For others, when their families get together, emotions can run high and interpersonal pressures can mount. It is important to remember that we all have a right to what we do and don’t want to do over the holiday period. There are some useful self-care strategies on our website, covering areas such as self-soothing, grounding, and self-nurture techniques. Importantly if you feel that you need support, contact the Blue Knot Helpline on
1300 657 380 AEST. We will be open right through the holiday period as will the National Counselling and Referral Service on 1800 421 468.

Many survivors seek support from a range of services and practitioners on their path to healing and recovery.  But how do you find the right service provider - one that is trauma-informed, and what does that actually mean? In this edition of the newsletter we give some tips on how to search for and what to look for around trauma-informed support, counselling or services.

We also feature the final part of guest contributor Bec Moran’s findings from her study which looks at lessons learned from the Australian Child Abuse Royal Commission.  Specifically, this article looks at Belief and Recognition. Bec writes “It was important for many survivors participating in the Commission to feel that the severity and pain of the impacts of child abuse was understood, and acknowledged that they had been telling the truth all along. These acknowledgements carried another message too: that the Australian Royal Commission recognised the wrongdoing of perpetrators and those who had helped to conceal abuse.”

Until next time, 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

Warm regards
The Blue Knot Team

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Book recommendation

Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Heal: Donna Jackson Nakazawa:


The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study is a ground-breaking longitudinal study which has studied the impacts of 10 different categories of childhood trauma on health, everyday functioning and wellbeing. Award-winning health journalist Donna Jackson Nakazawa has reviewed this research, interviewed people with lived experience of ACE’s and scientists to help improve outcomes for people affected. The book includes stories of people who not only have identified the relationship between what happened to them in childhood but have overcome their adverse experiences to live healthy constructive lives. 

Not only does Childhood Disrupted show how childhood trauma can affect our very biology and so our health, but it also explains how to cope and heal from these emotional traumas.

The following reviews tell it all:

"A truly important gift of understanding—illuminates the heartbreaking costs of childhood trauma and like good medicine offers the promising science of healing and prevention." Author: Jack Kornfield, PhD, author of A Path With Heart

"This groundbreaking book connects the dots between early life trauma and the physical and mental suffering so many live with as adults. Author Donna Jackson Nakazawa fully engages us with fascinating, clearly written science and moving stories from her own and others' struggles with life-changing illness. Childhood Disrupted offers a blend of fresh insight into the impact of trauma and invaluable guidance in turning toward healing!" Author: Tara Brach, Ph.D. Author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge

"Long overdue . . . Childhood Disrupted is a courageous, compassionate and rigorous every-persons guide through the common roots and enduring impact of childhood trauma in each of our lives. Linking breakthrough science with our everyday lived experience, Childhood Disrupted inescapably and artfully leads the reader to take practical steps and grasp the urgency of coming to terms with and taking a stand to heal the legacy of trauma in our personal and collective lives. This book reframes the common experience of childhood trauma through a lens of possibility for a life and society with an inexhaustible commitment to the safe, stable and nurturing relationships our health and healing require." Author: Christina Bethell, PhD, MBH, MPH Professor of Child Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

"If you want to know why you’ve been married three times. Or why you just can’t stop smoking. Or why the ability to control your drinking is slipping away from you. Or why you have so many physical problems that doctors just can’t seem to help you with. Or why you feel as if there’s no joy in your life even though you’re 'successful' . . . Read Childhood Disrupted, and you’ll learn that the problems you’ve been grappling with in your adult life have their roots in childhood events that you probably didn’t even consider had any bearing on what you’re dealing with now. Donna Jackson Nakazawa does a thorough and outstanding investigation of exactly how your childhood made you ill and/or joyless, and how you can heal." Author: Jane Stevens, editor, ACEsConnection.com


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My Story
Reader Contribution

Troubled Feelings - Joan Duranti


Feelings have always been troublesome for me
Sometimes I feel I’m floundering & all at sea
As in autumn leaves on branches & falling from a tree
There are some who don’t understand, what can I achieve?

Those feelings, bad feelings come from deep within
I try to keep planting new seeds, a new life begin
I squash the feelings down, put them in a bin
“What more can I do or say?” Of the surface skim!

It’s when difficult issues arise & pile on one another
I ask myself who do I call on, my sister or my brother
Or curl up in bed and just pull up the doona cover
I try to distract, is there another way to recover?

Its time to use my grounding tools feelings ever so strong
Being troubled once again, where do I belong?
Cold & winter’s days when the sun hasn’t shone
Will there be a time where my inner & outer get along?

Writing once again in the hope my pain will ease
What of my problems will they ever take leave?
Opening of old wounds I still oft do grieve
This to me isn’t a story of what I call make-believe.



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Survivor Workshops

This full-day educational workshop, informed by current research, provides a safe space for people who have experienced abuse or trauma in childhood, to learn more about abuse and other traumas and how trauma experiences can affect people, at the time of the trauma, and afterwards.

It will raise awareness about 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. 

There are still places available for Survivor Workshops in the following cities:

Launceston      14 March 2020 
Darwin 20 June 2020

Click here for more information and to book your seat.

Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide sessions are now full.  Please email training@blueknot.org.au if you would like to be added to the waitlist.

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Fact Sheet

Trauma-Informed Conversations

This fact sheet explores how to help a person who has experienced interpersonal trauma feel safe when you are having a conversation with them.  The fact sheet gives guidance around safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment.  Download the Fact Sheet here to learn more.

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Blue Knot Foundation Launches 2019 Practice Guidelines

On Thursday 31st October, Belmont Private Hospital in Brisbane – the hospital which has the only inpatient Trauma and Dissociation Unit in the Southern Hemisphere – hosted the launch of the 2019 Practice Guidelines for Clinical Treatment of Complex Trauma. More information on the Guidelines can be found here

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Blue Skies for Trauma Survivors

The Interfaith Service held on Sunday 3 November served as a reflection for adult survivors of complex trauma. Prayers, symbolic gestures and statements of support were provided by Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hari Krishna, Baha’i and atheist representatives.  Read more

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Blue Knot Launches National Counselling and Referral Service

Blue Knot Foundation is providing the National Counselling and Referral Service to support people impacted by the Disability Royal Commission.  Read more

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Australia's Highest Court Agrees to Hear Cardinal Pell Appeal

Australia’s highest court on Wednesday has given disgraced Cardinal George Pell the chance to appeal his child sexual abuse conviction. Pell, 78, was found guilty last year of the rape and sexual assault of two 13-year-old choirboys in the mid-1990s. He is currently serving a six-year jail term in Melbourne.Read more

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Next Steps in the Fight Against Institutional Abuse

How survivors can take the next steps in the fight against institutional abuse.  Read more

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Advocate urges people to speak up ahead of commission

Brunswick’s Christian Astoutian is urging those living with a disability to have a say in the upcoming Royal Commission on Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. Read more

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Timeline set down for George Pell Appeal

George Pell's lawyers have less than two months to tell Australia's highest court why the sex offender's convictions should be overturned. Read more

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Talking About Trauma - Having Safe Conversations

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Finding a trauma-informed service, support or counsellor

Many of us are impacted by adverse events and experiences that occurred to us in childhood, adolescence or during other times in our life. These might include interpersonal emotional and psychological abuse, neglect from our caregivers or other people in our families and communities, sexual and physical abuse as well as exposure to family violence and the impacts of unsafe and inconsistent living environments. Sometimes, our caregivers and parents have their own trauma histories and they are still impacting them when they have children.

The effects of trauma often mean that these events and experiences impact us in the way we relate to others, see ourselves or feel safe in the world.  They can have an ongoing impact on our health, wellbeing, relationships and connections with our communities. 

There are many ways for people to heal and recover from these experiences.  Many survivors turn to health professionals for trauma-informed counselling. Others find other pathways which can include a range of different approaches including cultural practices, creative pursuits, yoga, mindfulness etc. Trauma-informed care has become somewhat of a buzzword with health professionals and service providers, but what does it mean? 

Understanding trauma

At its essence trauma-informed interventions and approaches entail always considering the possibility that anyone with whom you are interacting may have experienced or be experiencing trauma/s. As we go through life, we experience many ups and downs which impact us along the way. Normal ups and downs of life create challenges for us all but are not the kinds of traumas that we are talking about.  Sometimes people experience a single incident of trauma or a series of single incidents that are traumatic or challenging.  We call these single incident traumas. We all have our own experiences and most of us have experienced some kind of trauma, over time. This can include bushfires, floods, accidents or single episodes of assault as an adult.  

Complex trauma is different from this.  This kind of trauma occurs with people in our lives over time and repeatedly.  Many trauma survivors have not identified that what happened to them was abusive or indeed traumatic. Some will have ‘forgotten’ about their experiences or not made the connections between what happened to them and their current challenges. Many times, community views about trauma are that the events need to be significant and physical in nature. Many survivors of trauma may have experienced these kinds of traumas but others will have experienced  psychological and emotional traumas as well as neglect, bullying and unsafe living environments. Emotional /psychological and environmental traumas also have significant impacts. 

Complex trauma often leads to a sense of self blame and shame for the survivor, and a belief that there is something wrong with them rather than an understanding that something unbearable happened to them. Many survivors have not realised  how these relationships and situations impacted them as they were growing up.

While people survive these adverse experiences as best they can, experiences of trauma threaten a person’s basic sense of safety and are often a fundamental abuse of power and betrayal of trust. The sheer power of surviving needs to be acknowledged and honoured.  While many survivors display remarkable resilience and their strengths, and coping strategies need to be celebrated, trauma, especially when repeated, and experienced in childhood can leave the person struggling with significant impacts. Much of what has traditionally been called symptoms are coping strategies and impacts. A trauma-informed perspective understands people’s struggles with shame, self-blame, low self-esteem, difficult relationships, every day activities, health and well-being in the context of what happened to the person. And looks past the difficult and challenging behaviours to their meaning for that person. 

Being trauma-informed

Trauma-informed services, and those who work in them, are aware of how common trauma is, of the ways the body, mind and emotions respond to trauma, especially when it is repeated and the ways survivors cope. This includes an understanding of the body’s physiological fight, flight, appease and freeze responses, triggers, and the challenges many survivors have with regulating strong emotions and managing their different in levels of arousal i.e. from being hyper-aroused (hypervigilant and easily started) to shut down and hypo-aroused. These services understand trauma, its dynamics and its effects and how best to work with people to help them feel safe, build trust and understand their own reactions.

Practitioners who are trauma-informed understand the importance of working with the whole person – with their body, mind and emotions supporting each person to identify and build on their internal resources (this means supporting them to build their own capacity to understand what is happening to them and increase their capacity to manage triggers and challenging situations as they occur), and to start to identify and access external supports, as much as possible. In so doing workers and practitioners can support survivors to better manage their emotions, identify and their manage triggers, and calm their nervous system to allow them to think, process and respond rather than react. 

When workers, practitioners and services are trauma-informed they support survivors in a way which seeks to not retraumatise them and which promotes healing, through a variety of strategies and approaches. Being trauma informed means adhering to 5 basic principles as well as attuning to the person being supported – this means attuning to all sorts of diversity and culture. The five core principles are safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment. 

How do you choose the service, support or counsellor for you?

We are all different and what helps one survivor might not suit another person. Many people do not wish to go to counselling or therapy and cannot either because they can’t access it; it is not affordable; no one offers trauma-informed counselling in their area or the idea of counselling is not part of their culture. Many survivors have other needs – from housing support, assistance navigating Centrelink or finding a group, help with shopping or care in the home or finding culturally appropriate ways to heal and recover. Regardless of what support you need, it can make a big difference if the service, support worker or counsellor is trauma-informed. This is not always easy and often depends on where you live as to what is available.

Here are a few things which might help you in your search.

  • If I come to your service, what is it like? Is it in a place in which I will feel safe and comfortable.
  • If access is challenging, does the service provide other ways of delivering their service, eg video conferencing, telephone, home visits?
  • Do all the staff understand about trauma, including the people at the front desk?
  • Is there a waiting list?
  • What can and can’t your service do?
  • What are the spaces like? Can I have a choice as to where and when we meet?
  • Who will see me? Will it be the same person as much as possible?
  • Think about what you need to help you to feel safe, have choices and feel empowered and ask questions which help you see if those needs will be met? This can relate to different qualities in the practitioner and the way they work together with you.
  • If you have needs that relate to your culture, does the service have workers from your culture or who understand these cultural needs and are culturally sensitive?
  • Does it try to find out about your cultural needs?
  • Does the service have a gender diverse approach? 
  • Does it welcome and attune to diversity?

If you are looking for a trauma-informed counsellor

It can be very hard for anyone to choose a counsellor, therapist or service. It can be especially challenging if you were abused or traumatised as a child. It can feel confusing and time-consuming. It is a good idea to ‘shop around’ before you choose.

The following advice might help you:

  • If you are in touch with other survivors in your area, ask them for their suggestions.
  • Speak to a counsellor on Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380, 9-5 Mon-Sun AEST.
  • Prepare a list of questions eg. What is his/her experience in working with survivors?
  • Be clear about what you need and want from a therapist.
  • What approach(es) does he/she use?
  • How much will it cost? Is there a concessional rate? What are payment options?
  • How available is he/she?
  • What happens in a session? How long are they?
  • What happens if I need to cancel a session?
  • Can I make contact between sessions? What happens when you take holidays?
  • What happens when we finish therapy? Could I come back again? Will I be part of the decision-making process?
  • Beware of therapists who stress a particular approach or technique, or who are dogmatic about issues such as forgiveness, confrontation, etc.
  • Beware of therapists who give hugs, shake hands too readily, or sit too close without invitation,  who seem like they will be your friends or who suggest informal meetings.
  • If you do feel uncomfortable when interviewing a therapist, trust your instincts.
  • Beware if your therapist seems overly interested in your sexual history and questions you in detail, especially when the questioning appears irrelevant.
  • Be aware of therapists who talk about their own abuse history - the sessions should be about you not about the therapist
  • Beware if your therapist avoids sensitive issues and talks in generalities. Is your therapist able to handle the feelings and content that you bring to therapy?

Ask yourself the following:

  • Do I feel intimidated by this therapist?
  • Does he/she listen to me?
  • Do I believe that I can disagree with him/her?

The therapist you choose should be a good listener. They should be empathetic and non-judgmental. Your therapist needs to be a trusted partner in your process.

It is also important for your therapist or counsellor to seek your feedback in a genuine way. All relationships can experience have ruptures from time to time. It is important for you to be able to share with the therapist situations that haven’t gone well for you or that you are anxious or concerned about. This is part of relationship building and important in the work.  A good therapist will welcome your feedback without being defensive.

You may wish to call Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 to speak to one of our counsellors. The counsellor can explore your needs and access Blue Knot’s referral database to identify therapists and agencies in your area, who are experienced in working with adult survivors. 


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SANE Australia National Survey

Our Turn to Speak is a national survey that seeks to understand the life experiences of people living with severe and complex mental health issues in Australia.

Our Turn to Speak will investigate the lived experiences – both positive and negative – of people affected by these issues. SANE Australia’s Anne Deveson Research Centre (ADRC), in partnership with the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences (MSPS) at the University of Melbourne is seeking 7,000 people aged 18 and over who have experienced complex mental health issues in the last 12 months. 

In order to advocate for better support for people affected by complex mental health issues and to improve social outcomes, we are seeking a sample of 7,000 respondents who reflect Australia’s diverse population.

SANE’s ultimate goal is to make a real difference in the lives of people affected by complex mental health issues through support, research and advocacy.

We want to understand people’s experiences across a broad range of areas (“life domains”), including: housing, employment, education, healthcare, mental healthcare, finance and insurance, public spaces and recreation, mass media, social media, relationships, welfare and social services, community groups, justice and legal services, and religious and faith practices.

More than 690,000 Australians aged 18 and over live with complex mental health issues. Our Turn to Speak will explore if and how these issues impact the many and varied aspects of participants’ lives. The survey findings will then be used to inform SANE’s future advocacy efforts, as we work towards improved social outcomes and support for all Australian affected by these issues.

Following a short (approximately 5 minutes) eligibility screening process, participants will be asked to complete the survey. The survey will take about 30 minutes and can be completed online right now, or over the phone. Participants can take the survey over the phone from Monday, 11 November 2019, between 9am–8pm (AEDT), Monday–Friday.

All responses will be kept confidential, and participants may be offered a $25 electronic gift card as reimbursement for their time.

Participants must be aged 18 years or over, and must have experienced severe and complex mental health issues in the last 12 months. To see if you or someone you know is eligible to participate, take a look at the website:


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A Safe Place to Tell: Part 3
Belief and Recognition

Lessons from the Australian Child Abuse Royal Commission

Rebecca J Moran, PhD Candidate, University of New South Wales School of Social Sciences

To protect their privacy and anonymity, all of the survivors whose words are provided below have been given a pseudonym. 

This is the third and final article in the series published in Breaking Free drawn from the PhD of Bec Moran into lessons from the Australian child abuse Royal Commission

In interviews conducted with 26 adult survivors of child sexual abuse, participants described a variety of reasons for engaging with the Australian Royal Commission. Many participants identified that they saw the Commission as a place where they could not only tell someone about their experiences of abuse, but also about its impacts. This is in contrast to criminal justice and civil law processes which tend to focus on the details of the abuse with little space for survivors to discuss the impact of abuse within their lives. That’s because these processes are intended to either prove or disprove that abuse occurred. In this case the survivor becomes simply a witness, required to provide a coherent and credible account of what happened. 

The Australian Royal Commission had status and authority. This supported participants' sense that they were contributing meaningfully to a collective historical record. Some of these contributions were made in private sessions in which survivors told their story to one or more Commissioners.  The Commissioners’ wealth of life experience carried an aura of importance and being well informed, and many participants reported that Commissioners formed authentic connections with them during private sessions in ways that amplified the healing impacts of being heard and believed. 

Jake describes the powerful impact of being able to tell his story in a setting which was formal and conveyed a sense of seriousness, yet still remained somehow human and warm, for him. 

They asked genuinely caring questions around, “Okay, well, you said this but is there more to it than that?” And then there was a lot of, “You seem like a smart lad you know. Have you observed anything? Learnt anything? Is there anything you would like to do differently?” And they listened to all of that with great genuine interest and care. And that was no different in the final interaction which was my private session. 

And I have said to Commissioners, I have said to Royal Commission lawyers that I have worked with, to federal police and State police that I have worked with through the Commission process. They [the Commissioners] have listened to thousands and thousands and thousands of horrendous stories and how they have kept their compassion through all of that and their sincerity and their genuine care and interest. It was just a thing to behold because I can’t understand how they did it. And it really was that breathtaking. As a survivor it was that breathtaking.

Jake also commented on the relief he felt from being believed, and from feeling that the Commission recognised how difficult the impacts of abuse had been for him. 
In contrast, Bettina felt attacked, disbelieved, and as if she didn't matter. After a very positive experience in her private session, Bettina agreed to participate in a public hearing, in which an interrogative and aggressive approach resulted in a frightening, humiliating experience.  Despite the best of intentions, for Bettina, the Australian Royal Commission was yet another traumatic attempt for her to tell, which compounded the negative impacts of her abuse. 

That was extreme trauma that day [having personal letters exposed in the public hearing]. They just kept letting this guy go on and on and talking as if I was liar, and that I'd said things that were untrue. And then you had the Counsel Assisting the Commission saying, "Oh what do we do here? We've got a prior inconsistent statement." And I'm thinking, 'no you haven't.' And it was like the Commission had decided that I'd lied. And I ended up standing up. I mean, my hands were wringing like ... twisting ... my hands were twisting and I'd been obviously distressed earlier, embracing my eldest son, and it was horrible for him too to see that done to me. And the other survivor witnesses were sitting beside and behind me, and they all saw. And they were all horrified… It was really horrendously distressing and the commissioners had watched it go on… 

And when they rang me on that day and were talking to me, they said, "We heard how institutions attack witnesses, but we've never seen it happening before our eyes." And I thought 'Well, it wasn't just before your eyes, you were in control of it. You could have stopped it at any time.' But they were so bound up in their normal legalistic protocol, that, although they were supposedly there to ... we were there to... for healing, and to assist them in their work. Actually, we were treated ... you know. I wasn't treated that way.

Bettina experienced debilitating trauma responses after her experience at the public hearing, and many months later was still struggling to cope with the impacts. 

I was spending most of my time lying of the floor with my phone and computer within reach and a bottle of water. And I couldn't tell them what I needed. That was what they were saying, "What do you need?" And I thought, "You've had all of this the evidence before you, what it does and how the institution should have good follow-up and good support for anyone who's been victimised, and all the rest of it." And when it happens within your own organisation, that's not what you're providing me. You're asking me to tell you what I need. And I just felt, in the end I think said, "I feel like I've been hit by a car, run over. I've managed to crawl over to the gutter. And that's pretty much all I can do." So, it was horrendous. It was like I'd trusted, yet again. I'd trusted in the Commission. And after trusting in people again I've had everything just wiped away.

Survivors are accustomed to reading their environments closely, in order to evaluate how safe or unsafe they are in each moment. The way the Australian Royal Commission connected with survivors sent important messages about their worth and safety: Phone calls returned quickly told them, 'You are important to us'. Carefully selected venues and the provision of cakes and cups of tea said, 'We want you to be comfortable'. Attentive and compassionate staff said, 'We see you. We believe you. We care about what happened to you, and we care what happens to you now.' Conversely, a hostile public hearing told Bettina, "You were wrong to think you could trust us.'

A public inquiry must decide whether its goal is to gather the information necessary to make change, whether to attempt to provide some healing and justice for participants through the process itself -or, ambitiously, whether to combine these two goals. For survivors who participate in public inquiries, these possibilities are inextricably linked. If they provide evidence in a hostile environment, they are unlikely to feel valued. If they provide evidence in a warm and caring environment, yet see that after the inquiry nothing changes, they are unlikely to feel valued. Many survivors are driven to participate in public inquiries in the hope that they can help protect others from abuse, and contribute to a vision of a better future for people affected by trauma. 

Whether the Australian Royal Commission succeeds at creating meaningful and lasting change on the issue of child abuse remains to be seen. What is clear, however, is that being believed, feeling seen and heard, being treated in a way which conveys that the person matters, and having someone in a position of authority communicate that what happened to them was not okay and was not their fault, can be a transformative experience for survivors. In contrast, interactions which mirror other invalidating, adversarial, or skeptical responses to disclosure compound the impacts of abuse and subject survivors to further trauma. 

As Larry says so eloquently: 

I have a very clear image of Commissioner Atkinson talking to me, and it's a bit like the father, if you like. A very generous, open father saying, "I understand what you've told me, and you are an acceptable person." That's what I heard. "I understand what happened to you, and I understand that you are an acceptable person. That you are okay." And that's what I walked away with. 

To me that was really quite profound because it meant that all the things that I'd been believing that I wasn't an okay person, that I was second-rate, that I really was a blight on humanity were being challenged. And he was the first person that actually really challenged them. And he was a person with status. A Royal Commissioner, that's a pretty, you know, in my mind that was a really high-status person telling me I'm okay. And that was really powerful for me. And so from that I took away the sense that, yes, I can move on from here, that I can do something…. I walked away feeling reassured. I walked away feeling of some value. And I walked away feeling that, as a human being, that I did have some potential that I could make my life better.

It was important for many survivors participating in the Commission to feel that the severity and pain of the impacts of child abuse was understood, and acknowledged that they had been telling the truth all along. These acknowledgements carried another message too: that the Australian Royal Commission recognised the wrongdoing of perpetrators and those who had helped to conceal abuse. 

While recognition cannot undo the harms of child abuse, it can provide some sense of fairness, restoration or justice. For people who, as children, were often made to feel responsible for what had happened to them, and that their suffering was not important enough for bystanders to intervene, the recognition of innocence and suffering provided by a dedicated, courageous Inquiry sends an important message about survivors' value as members of the community. It tells survivors, "you matter to us'. 

For further information about this study please email Rebecca at rebecca.moran@student.unsw.edu.au

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Blue Knot Day 2019

This year we asked survivors, partners, friends and family, and interested community members to post a piece of blue sky in support of survivors of complex trauma.  Many of you shared some truly inspiring images through social media, letting survivors know that they are not alone, and that a glimpse of blue sky can embody a sign of hope and possibility of healing. Here are some of the wonderful images that were shared in the lead-up and on Blue Knot Day.  We thank everyone who took part by sharing on social media, holding an event and helping raise awareness for the over 1 in 4 adult Australians experiencing the long-term effects of complex trauma.

Blue Knot Day Interfaith Service

An interfaith service of reflection for adult survivors of complex trauma was held on Sunday November 3, outside the Park Café on Chalmers Street. The service, included prayers, symbolic gestures and statements of support from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Hari Krishna, Baha’i and atheist representatives.

Following a smoking ceremony led by Uncle Max Eulo, Gumbaynggirr-Wiradjuri musician Tim Gray offered an acknowledgement of country by way of an original song called “Barraminya” (a Wiradjuri word meaning “recovery”). Cr Linda Scott poured water into a large glass bowl, symbolising tears of pain and grief.

The Sydney Baha’i Temple Choir offered a very moving prayer in response to writer Alana Valentine’s account of testimonies collected in the process of writing her play, Swimming Upstream (2012).

As the rain fell softly, a story of recovery was shared by Scarlett Rose Franks, who spoke of exiled emotions, resilience, slow progress towards healing, and the invaluable support of community. Her extraordinary words were warmly received.

The With One Voice Redfern community choir brought the service to a joyful and hopeful close. Their rendition of Neil Murray’s “My Island Home” – an evocation of safety and belonging – enticed many of those present to stand and dance.

The message of Blue Knot Day is that even in the face of distant justice and painful waiting, recovery is possible.

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Professional Trauma Training Calendar

Book your professional training for next year and lock-in early bird discounts

Sydney  10 Feb      Intro to Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients (L1)
Adelaide  10 Feb  Foundation for Trauma Informed Care and Practice (L1)
Brisbane 14 Feb  Managing Vicarious Trauma
Gold Coast 12 Mar  Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients (L2)
Launceston 13 Mar  Intro to Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients (L1)
Melbourne 16 Mar  Foundation for Trauma Informed Care and Practice (L1)
Adelaide 19 Mar  Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients (L2)
Sydney 20 Mar  Trauma-Informed Care and Practice: Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
Melbourne 24 Mar  Trauma-Informed Transgender and Gender Diverse Affirmative Care - Masterclass
Brisbane 27 Mar Intro to Working Therapeutically with Complex Trauma Clients (L1)
Canberra 27 Mar  Embedding Trauma-Informed Care and Practice for Managers
Perth 30 Mar  Trauma-Informed Care and Practice (L2)

Blue Knot's trauma training is informative, interactive and engaging, and is facilitated by experienced clincians and trauma trainers around Australia. Professionals may claim CPD hours/credits/points as a pre-approved or self directed learning activity.  Go here to learn more and book 

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The administration office for Blue Knot Foundation will be closed for the holiday season from 
Monday 23 December 2019, returning Thursday 2 January, 2019.

Our Helpline will operate every day through the holiday period  
If you need someone to talk to please call our support line on 1300 657 380 Monday to Sunday 9am to 5pm or
email helpline@blueknot.org.au

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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.

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Head to Health


“Blue Knot Foundation has a key role to play in the building of community capacity in care provision to those who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma in any environment.”

NIALL MULLIGAN Manager, Lifeline Northern Rivers

“I think Blue Knot Foundation is a fantastic support organisation for people who have experienced childhood trauma/abuse, for their families/close friends and for professionals who would like to learn how to more effectively work with these people.”

Psychologist Melbourne

“It's such a beautiful thing that you are doing. Helping people to get through this.”


“It was only last September when I discovered the Blue Knot Foundation website and I will never forget the feeling of support and empathy that I received when I finally made the first phone call to Blue Knot Helpline, which was also the first time I had ever spoken about my abuse.”


"At last there is some sound education and empathetic support for individuals and partners impacted by such gross boundary violations.”


Contact Us

Phone: 02 8920 3611
Email: admin@blueknot.org.au
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: 
Jackie Hanafie
+61 3 9005 7353
+61 412 652 439
 or jackie@fiftyacres.com