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


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

From the Editor

In this issue you can read about our social media campaign for 2018 Blue Knot Day. The theme is ‘REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE’. We are asking you to show your compassion, your understanding and your support, to yourself and others by downloading sharable images and posting to social media with the hashtag ‘#unitebkd’. See main article for links and details.

In My Story this month we bring you the evocative poem by Erina “If Our Scream Was Heard” – I think many of our readers will resonate with her words.

In the ‘Self Care Resources’ section we review a free app that offers several libraries of resources. The recently added range of courses is relatively accessible, costing less that two cups of coffee for each course.

Our book review this month introduces you to the work of a world renown yoga teacher who founded ‘Trauma Sensitive Yoga’. The book explains how this modified practice can be helpful for healing and recovery.

Our feature article provides a caller’s experience of the Blue Knot Helpline. We have also provided a guide to help you find and choose a therapist to support your recovery or that of someone you know is thinking about seeing a counsellor.

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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My Story by Erina

If our scream was heard 

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Historic Apology 

By Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President

Blue Knot Foundation National Centre of Excellence For Complex Trauma

Blue Knot Foundation heading to National Apology

Members of the Blue Knot Team (pictured) travelled with Cathy Kezelman to the National Apology in Canberra

The National Apology delivered on Monday 22 October to victims of institutional child sexual abuse by the Prime Minister Hon. Scott Morrison MP and the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Bill Shorten MP was truly historic.

The Royal Commission revealed that tens of thousands of children experienced the brutality and horror of sexual abuse in our institutions. Many experienced other abuses, violations and loss of dignity as well. Often victims were disbelieved, blamed and punished.

The apology was delivered in the House of Representatives to a full chamber with many survivors and advocates looking on. Many others watched as the apology was live streamed into the Great Hall of Parliament House, the lawn outside and at other venues in different States and Territories. Many watched online or chose not to watch, as doing so was just too hard. For many it was incredibly tough to be there, but also hopefully healing, as the words acknowledged their pain, distress and anger.

Long Awaited Apology

For, in this very public way, survivors were told that they have now been heard, that they are believed and that the abuse was not their fault. And that this should never have happened. For many this was incredibly moving and long awaited.

It was significant that both leaders also acknowledged that not all victims were sexually abused, but experienced other abuses, often, as well. That children in Australia are abused and neglected in different ways, and in different places, such as the home and the family and that this apology was acknowledging the harm done to all survivors.

It is hard to describe the emotion in the room, the adulation with which Julia Gillard, who was the Prime Minister who called the Royal Commission, was welcomed.

National Museum and Centre of Excellence

Both leaders acknowledged that words are not enough and committed to continue to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The Prime Minister committed to establishing a National Centre of Excellence around Child Sexual Abuse and a National Museum which will not only act as ‘a place of truth and reconciliation’ – a memorial for victims of institutional child sexual abuse.

Prime Minister Morrison announced that he would be moving responsibility for the National Office of Child Safety into Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, as doing what we can to ensure that children are safe in the future is just so important. He also committed to reporting annually in December on the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations by his government.

As the redress scheme rolls out and the words of the apology ring out across our nation, it is time for real change, and that change took a step forward with the apology.

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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.

Book Review

“Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga. Reclaiming Your Body”
By David Emerson & Elizabeth Hopper

Book review - Trauma and Yoga

Rethinking Yoga

In the expanding field of trauma treatment, practices that cultivate a positive relationship and connection to the body are increasingly being used to complement traditional talk therapies . In the book “Overcoming Trauma Through Yoga” Emerson & Hopper discuss how trauma sensitive yoga can help people heal from trauma, by encouraging a connection with oneself, and one’s body.

The authors worked with Bessel Van Der Kolk, psychiatrist, Founder and Medical Director at The Trauma Centre JRI, Boston USA. Together they conducted the first compelling research on the effectiveness and positive physiological effects of yoga in trauma recovery.

This book and the work at the Trauma Centre in Boston has changed the way yoga is taught in many yoga classes across the world. There is a lot of trauma sensitive yoga training and books for yoga teachers. (see links at end)

In trauma-sensitive yoga, students are repeatedly encouraged to move with ease and maintain comfort. Instructions emphasize the importance of each person having choice and control over their body. Students are encouraged to attend to their own experience, rather than trying to get postures “right”. This can be a new and positive experience, as you are not trying to meet anyone’s expectations. Rather you move at your own pace, in your own way.

The book is divided into different sections, well written and easy to understand. This includes a history of traumatic stress, trauma treatments, and also the origins of yoga. The next longer section explains trauma sensitive yoga with stories, examples and photographs. The last section is divided into two parts. The first is for survivors and the other part is specifically for yoga teachers.

If you are looking for a trauma sensitive yoga teacher these 2 websites may help you in your search:

Trauma Sensitive Yoga Australia

Trauma Centre Trauma Centre Yoga Australia

Self Care Resources 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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Self care App

Insight Timer – Phone App

Insight timer App

Insight Timer is an app that offers so much more than the useful timer.

It provides a library of meditations for sleep, happiness, recovery, healing and many more topics. The music library includes many sounds like floating, healing, nature sounds, piano meditation, singing bowls and so on. There are hundreds of recorded interviews and ideas covering a range of topics: poetry, changing habits, overeating, anger, motivational talks, and healing ideas.

The libraries are expanding all the time. If you haven’t looked at this app lately I recommend revisiting it.

The timer provides the wood block, a gentle sound reminders.. It can finish with a delightfully toned Tibetan singing bowl chime. The chimes work when the phone is locked or in silent mode, to prevent interruptions.

Since I last reviewed Insight Timer a library of courses has been added. These cost $7.99 each. Each one is structured to run over 10 days. Before you enrol you can read reviews, a comprehensive day-by-day course outline, and listen to questions & answers about each course. This could be a mini self help course. Some of the course titles are:

• Learning How To Say NO
• Your Guide To Deeper Sleep
• How To Change Unwanted Habits
• The Power of Gratitude To Enrich Your Life

A generous and versatile app with mostly free content

https://insighttimer.com/ or download it from your app store

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Is Your Therapist "Trauma-Informed"?

Russell’s Story

Cover Story October 2018 Newsletter

Russell (fictional) has been to a number of different mental health professionals for ongoing anxiety and depression over the past 10 years. Russell often felt misunderstood by them. He wondered if his struggles had anything to do with him being touched by his father, where he shouldn’t have been, when he was a little boy.

In addition to his low mood, Russell sometimes would drink until he blacked out. The panic he felt sometimes made him desperate and he felt so anxious it was like he was dying. Sometimes he felt like hurting himself. He was hospitalised twice, once when he had thoughts and a plan of harming himself; the other time, when he thought he was experiencing a heart attack but the doctors told him he was in a panic with his anxiety.

Russell had given up on counselling because he felt it wasn’t helping him. In fact he was starting to experience memories of his father hurting him and of being so scared that he was unable to move.

One day, after speaking to his friend Blake, he decided to give counselling one more go. Blake has spoken to a counsellor on the Blue Knot Helpline, “they get it – the telephone counsellors there just got me.” Blake explained that the Blue Knot Helpline counsellor “actually said that I could get better with the right help – that I could in time understand why I felt angry all the time and that they’d help me with it .” He described how Blue Knot had also connected him with a counsellor near him that he had been seeing for over two years now, and how much calmer and more together he felt for it.

Calling The Helpline

Calling the blue Knot Helpline 

Russell called the Helpline and was surprised how quickly he felt that he could really talk to the counsellor who picked up. Her name was Tansy (pseudonym). When he started to speak, his words got jumbled, and he couldn’t finish his sentences. Tansy invited him to slow down, and take his time. For the first time he felt that the pressure inside him start to ease. And she didn’t ask lots of questions. She listened to how he was feeling, and acknowledged his feelings and reflected back what he was telling her. She gave him plenty of time, and he felt heard, validated and as a result supported.

When he spoke about his drinking he expected to be told off. But Tansy didn’t do that at all. She seemed to understand. She said that often people who have experienced trauma use different ways to soothe themselves. Alcohol was just one of them. Tansy wondered if drinking was one of the ways in which Russell might try and calm himself when he felt distressed or anxious.

When he mentioned that he smoked. Tansy suggested that the rhythm of inhaling and exhaling is another way we can soothe ourselves. . Again Tansy helped Russell feel heard and not judged.

Previous therapists had asked Russell lots of questions. That had made him feel as though there was something wrong with him. That’s not how he felt speaking with Tansy. Even though some of the ways Russell coped were not so good for his health in the long run, he could better understand why he used them. Tansy implied that over time he could maybe find other ways but that for now, these helped him cope with the memories and horrors of his childhood. She understood that something bad had happened to him in childhood, and helped him understand that those things might help explain why he struggled with anxiety and depression.

And so, Russell started to feel safe. When he became agitated, Tansy invited him to take a break, slow down, and guided him through a simple grounding practice.

The first time Russell felt safe and contained with a counsellor was really memorable. . It was so different to his previous experiences when he felt like he would explode and then just felt so down on himself.

Tansy used a trauma-informed approach and explained:
• Why grounding can be helpful
• His reactions were normal stress responses to trauma,
• The memories were activating his nervous system making him feel agitated and anxious, sometimes and shut down at others
• That people who have experienced trauma sometimes use different ways to help them cope such as drinking

Russell felt enormous relief.

Tansy let Russell know that his feelings and reactions made sense. She listened deeply to what he was saying. She listened to his story and also to his strengths, resilience and capacity to cope. She helped him, have a sense of hope that healing and feeling better was possible and gave him some strategies for the way forward. She understood that he had developed different ways to cope with his experiences and their impacts. She told him that there were many other ways to cope that may be better for his health in the long run. She validated his courage in continuing to look for the right counselling support for him.

What made the difference? Tansy the Blue Helpline Counsellor had been trained in Trauma-Informed Care. She worked using the 5 core principles of safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment.

The Blue Knot Helpline hosts a national referral database of trauma-informed health professionals and agencies with expertise and experience in working with adult survivors of childhood abuse and trauma, and their supporters. 

We encourage you to call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 between 9 and 5 Monday to Sunday, for counselling support, information, support with the National Redress Scheme process and to access our referral database. 


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Finding A Local Trauma-Informed Practitioner or Agency

How to choose a therapist?  

How Do You Choose?

Choosing a therapist can be, confusing and time-consuming. It is often advisable to ‘shop around’ before you make your choice. 

The following advice might help you:

  • Seek personal recommendations from other survivors.
  • Seek recommendations from Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380, 9-5 Mon-Sun AEST.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask the therapist you have chosen, eg. What is his/her experience in working with survivors (particularly with issues that are relevant to you)?
  • Call 2-3 so you can compare the answers and how they “feel” over the phone
  • What approach(es) does he/she use in therapy?
  • How much will it cost?
  • Is there any possibility of a concessional rate?
  • What are the options for payment?
  • How available is he/she?
  • What form do the sessions take?
  • How long are the sessions?
  • What are the rules about cancelling a session? 
  • When you call, let them know you are being referred from Blue Knot then you won’t need to talk about your history on the phone 

Feel Safe

Make sure you feel safe in the building & consulting rooms. Do you feel free to ask questions? Your chosen therapist would ideally answer any questions you have about their experience, models of working, professional memberships and qualifications. 


Once you have entered into a therapeutic relationship with a professional, if you feel yourself being pushed too hard, or you are uncomfortable with suggested therapeutic methods, try to discuss your concerns with your therapist. You should be comfortable with the pace of your therapy. It is good to talk openly about any difficulties you are experiencing in the session.  A good therapeutic relationship will not always be smooth sailing. There can often be relationship challenges. The best way to approach these are to be as open and transparent with the difficulties as possible. A good therapist will work though these issues as they are part of the healing and the therapy. 

Consider your options if:

  • The therapists you are considering stress a particular approach or technique, or who are dogmatic about issues such as forgiveness, confrontation, etc.
  • The therapists you are considering give hugs, shake hands too readily, or sit too close without invitation. If you do feel uncomfortable when interviewing a therapist, trust your instincts.
  • Your therapist seems overly interested in your sexual history and questions you in detail, especially when the questioning appears irrelevant.
  • Your therapist avoids sensitive issues and talks in generalities. Is your therapist able to handle the feelings and content that you bring to therapy? 

Trust Yourself!

  • Is there something that you feel uncomfortable about? Raise this issue openly?
  • It is important for you to feel you have choices over what happens in therapy, you feel that you are heard and that you can speak openly and that you have control over the way the sessions runs as much as possible.
  • If you don’t understand something that happens in therapy, ask questions and raise your concerns.
  • If you are not happy that this is the right therapist for you, speak to him/her openly about that and look for another referral. 

The therapist you choose should be a good listener, who is both empathetic and non-judgmental. Your therapist needs to be a trusted partner in your process. If you feel that you have not found the right therapist call the Blue Knot Helpline again and ask for another referral. 

Seeing a Professional

Choosing a Therapist

Blue Knot Foundation Practice Guidelines documents principles that guide health professionals, service providers and the community’s understanding of effective trauma informed care and practice. 

Blue Knot Foundation provides referrals as a service only and cannot guarantee its suitability for any service user’s particular needs.


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Blue Knot Day 2018 - Survivors

Blue Knot Day Supporter


   Blue Knot Day Campaign

Out of every 4 Australian adults, at least one person has experienced trauma as a child. It could be a family member, a friend, a neighbour, a work colleague, or you, yourself. The likelihood however is that you, someone close to you, and definitely someone you know is a survivor of childhood trauma or abuse.

Whoever it is, you or someone you care about may not have told anyone or may not have acknowledged or identified that what was experienced was abusive or traumatic. Regardless of whether you or they have told anyone, the trauma has usually had an effect in some and often many ways. Yet as a society we have been loath to acknowledge the impacts of childhood trauma and address them.

The Royal Commission highlighted the harm caused within institutions which failed to protect children, and which were often complicit in enabling additional perpetration of abuse. The revelations of the damage perpetrated on thousands of victims was sobering. The recent apology was a significant step towards Australian government and society acknowledging the harm done. 

National Apology

We welcome the national apology and also recognise there is much work to be done now to support survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, and all adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. We must acknowledge that the impacts of childhood trauma are significant and far reaching, and as communities and individuals, we are all responsible for change.

This month, as we approach Blue Knot Day on Monday 29th and in the time of the apology we are working together to erode the fear and judgement which foster disbelief, tackle the stereotypes, and acknowledge the challenges of those who have experienced childhood trauma and abuse. It is time to act.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a national centre be established to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse, support help-seeking and guide best practice advocacy, support and therapeutic treatment. The Federal Government has announced the centre’s establishment within the remit of the National Office of Child Safety.

Blue Knot Day

The 2018 Blue Knot Day theme ‘REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE’ recognises the desperate and urgent need for support services for adult survivors of childhood trauma and encourages this action. This year we are asking you to be visible in your compassion, your understanding and your support, by downloading the Blue Knot Day REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE. share images and posting to social media with the hashtag ‘#unitebkd’.

The Blue Knot Day images and social media guidelines are designed to support both survivors and supporters; personal and professional. The images highlight our rights, as survivors, to live ‘a life free from shame and silence’, and as supporters; our commitment to compassion for all adult survivors of childhood trauma.

Taboo and Stigma Live On

Each survivor’s journey is unique. It embodies a more universal struggle, a struggle to negotiate a path within a society which would rather keep the lid on unpalatable truths and preserve traditional beliefs without question. Despite all the stats and the stories we hear and read about child abuse, the taboo and stigma live on.

No community is immune to the scourge of abuse and other traumas. Abuse and trauma does not only occur in institutions, it occurs in the home and neighbourhood. As a society we have been reluctant to look abuse and trauma in the eye and to accept the realities we would rather deny. As human beings we share a common humanity and by virtue of our humanity, a common vulnerability. Yet when a perpetrator denies the vulnerability of their victim they fail to see their victim’s pain and fear. And sadly, often society turns a blind eye as well.

This is why we must be public in our voice. As survivors we share our journeys and our recoveries, unique and individual as they are, we are connected by a common understanding. As supporters, families, clinicians and others working to help survivors heal, we have diverse backgrounds and histories, yet we are also all are connected by our compassion, our desire for change. We all deserve more.

October Raising Awareness

In a month where we embrace a long awaited national apology for an estimated 60,000 men and women failed by the very institutions responsible for their wellbeing as children, we also see Mental Health Month in New South Wales, Victoria, and the ACT. This year’s theme of ‘Share the Journey’ encourages us to communicate when things get tough, to share stories, to connect and to create a sense of security within families and communities.

This month is huge, in so many ways. Every year, with the support of an ever-growing community, Blue Knot Day is raising awareness, providing platforms for conversations and letting survivors know that recovery is possible, and that help is available. We thank everyone who has joined us publicly this year to unite for adult survivors of childhood trauma through the Blue Knot Day REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE social media campaign. Thank you in particular to NSW Mental Health Commission, Families Australia, Office of the eSafety Commissioner, and to everyone who has downloaded, promoted and shared this message within your own communities.

The Blue Knot Day REAL LIVES. REAL CHANGE social media campaign will run throughout the month of October. Simply visit the Blue Knot website and download and share the social media tiles with the hashtag ‘#unitebkd’.

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National apology means time for action – prior Governor-General, who failed to act must be stripped of pension and entitlements.

FORMER Australian governor-general Dr Peter Hollingworth should be stripped of his $600,000 a year entitlement after it was found he protected paedophiles during his time as Anglican Archbishop. Read more here.



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Of all the politicians, Julia Gillard was the only one survivors really wanted

A survey of our recent prime ministers’ whereabouts on Monday: Kevin Rudd, in Canberra, promoting his new memoir by dripping out criticisms of his former colleagues. Malcolm Turnbull, in transit from his exile in New York, blamed for the Liberals’ trouncing in Wentworth.  Read more here


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Calls to Remove Charity Status of Abusive Organisations

Charities involved in institutional abuse that fail to enter the national redress scheme should lose their charitable status, abuse survivors say amid the prime minister’s national apology to survivors of child sexual abuse. . Read More

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Download the PDF version of the newsletter 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.

Latest Articles



Health Direct


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
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