Services & supports for survivors & communities impacted by systemic child sexual abuse.
Services & supports for survivors & communities impacted by systemic child sexual abuse.
Why this petition matters
The tragic scale of child sexual abuse that occurred in the 1970s – 80s at Beaumaris Primary School, and other institutions in surrounding communities, became public in 2021. As courageous survivors, and family members of men who lost their lives because of the abuse, came forward to share their stories, with ABC investigative journalist Russell Jackson.
The number of people whose lives have been devastated for many decades, by the most heinous crime against children in this community, remains unknown. The number of pedophiles now known to have been employed by a number of local schools, junior sporting clubs and other institutions during this time, is terrifying.
Why urgent action must be taken now to reduce the pain and suffering so many have lived with for so long and prevent further loss of life.
This petition is seeking crucial acknowledgement by local, state, and federal governments of this systemic child sexual abuse, through their provision of appropriately funded and accessible mental health, recovery, and healing services, and other assistance and support, for impacted individuals, families, friends, and members of the local communities.
We are inviting The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas MP, the Victorian Minister for Health, to meet with the petition organisers, to discuss what a meaningful, restorative investment in the lives of survivors, families, partners and the communities impacted, can look like. Including funding the facilitation of the co-design of responses, with those impacted.
Our vision includes piloting frameworks of accessible and integrated service systems that are already working well elsewhere in Australia, and in the world, in a couple of Victorian communities devastated by historic, systemic institutional child sexual abuse. The Ballarat community, and the Bayside communities of Melbourne.
We are also asking The Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas to work with the relevant decision makers within Victorian State and Federal Government, to ask that they collectively fund a person-centred approach to survivors, their families and communities, that requires knocking on just one door. Designed around the holistic needs of individuals and families, that provides victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse with "no wrong door."
The urgent action our petition seeks, is well known to the Victorian State and Federal Governments.
The 2017 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Report, Recommendation 9.1:
"The Australian Government and state and territory governments should fund dedicated community support services for victims and survivors in each jurisdiction, to provide an integrated model of advocacy and support and counselling to children and adults who experienced childhood sexual abuse in institutional contexts. Funding and related agreements should require and enable these services to:
a. be trauma-informed and have an understanding of institutional child sexual abuse
b. be collaborative, available, accessible, acceptable and high quality
c. use case management and brokerage to coordinate and meet service needs
d. support and supervise peer-led support models.”
Victorian Government submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System July, 2019, "Pathways should be designed to make it easier for people to access and move between services. Lessons from the Royal Commission into Family Violence and other service reform initiatives indicate it is important that:
- intake into services is person-centred, with multiple entry points and a ‘no wrong door approach’.
- services are coordinated, with linkages between a range of different service elements of different intensities and types over a person’s recovery journey.
- consumers can access services in a timely and efficient way, with minimal double-up."
Mental Health, Productivity Commission Inquiry Report, 30 June 2020, "the National Mental Health Commission stated in its 2014 review that a successful mental health system would have a ‘no wrong door’ approach, and consumers would be referred onto the appropriate service for their needs, regardless of their initial point of entry into the mental health system. While parts of the system are working towards a ‘no wrong door’ approach, this remains far from the norm (box 15.3).
The ‘no wrong door’ approach means that when a person approaches a service or gateway, they are not turned away, even if it is not the right service for them. Instead, they are helped to access care from the right place. The no wrong door approach is often used in the context of integrated care to describe a situation where people ‘can access a tailored combination of supports wherever they first ask for assistance’."
The Federal Department of Social Services Stakeholder consultation in 2020 with victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their advocates, practitioners, non-government organisations, academics and government officials identified the following key gaps in Victoria:
- Systemic barriers to disclosure / lack of action on reporting
- Understanding of trauma and child sexual abuse in general services (e.g. health, law enforcement, welfare etc.)
- Silos between sectors and organisations
- Community and general sector (e.g. health, welfare, education, law enforcement) understanding of child sexual abuse
- Inconsistent practices / legislation across jurisdictions / need for a national collaborative approach
- Primary prevention and early intervention – needs adequate funding
Sexual Assault Services Victoria submission to the Victorian Law Reform Commission ‘Improving Justice Responses to Sexual Offences’ Inquiry February 4, 2021
Page 14. Pathways to justice – the role of support and services
What would make it easier for people who have been sexually harmed to get the supports and services they need, so they can decide whether to report the sexual harm?
"Sexual assault and family violence disclosures need to be met with a ‘no wrong door’ approach by any service – universal family and child welfare services, education.
This is what facilitates greater reporting. Improved competencies in recognising and responding to disclosures across sectors would lead to greater reporting if sexual assault wasn’t such a stigmatised issue."
Mental Health and Wellbeing Bill 2022, tabled in Victorian Parliament, June 2022, includes the establishment of Regional multiagency panels
"to support mental health and wellbeing service providers to deliver integrated treatment, care and support to people living with mental illness or psychological distress who require ongoing intensive treatment, care and support from multiple services."
Our petition seeks to increase the opportunities for disclosure of child sexual abuse, that result in the diagnosis and treatment of complex post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), needed for healing and recovery. Healing and recovery requires a diagnosis and treatment of complex PTSD AND services and treatment for the problems and symptoms caused by complex PTSD,
What this translates to is whatever service (health, social, welfare, employment, financial, justice and community) 'door' survivors and their families enter, is a safe place for disclosure of childhood sexual abuse, that enables access to all the services that meet their individual needs. And a case manager coordinates seamless care across multiple service providers (health, social, welfare, employment, financial, justice and community). Person-centred care also recognises that individuals are the experts of their own lived experiences and needs, and survivors and their families must be engaged in making informed decisions and choices about their care.
It also ensures each service an individual accesses delivers a trauma-informed approach that is nuanced and tailored to the their experiences. Vital to decrease the risks of individuals being re-traumatised by any service, whether it is related to substance abuse, depression, anxiety, physical ill-health, unemployment, homelessness, welfare, legal and financial services.
The current complex and disconnected systems of assistance, services and support too often requires the harmful retelling of their childhood sexual abuse trauma stories with multiple service providers.
The delay in implementation of a 'no wrong door' integration of health, social, welfare, employment, financial, justice and community systems, has undoubtedly cost lives of Victorian survivors through suicide and early deaths, that could have been saved. The delay has also extended levels of illness, disadvantage, disconnection and suffering for Victorian survivors, families, and communities, (social, emotional, mental, physical, financial, legal) that could have been reduced.
This petition is organised by a community group who act in loving memory of Ian Walker and Trevor Foster, and will present the signed petition to the Hon. Mary-Anne Thomas, the Victorian Minister for Health.
You can also stand with us via our facebook page
Beaumaris And Surrounding Communities - CSA Survivors And Families
and on twitter
If you are a survivor and are in need of counselling assistance, you may wish to access one of the support lines listed below. If you are in need of immediate help, please dial 000.
National: 1800 RESPECT, 1800 737 732
NSW: NSW Rape Crisis Centre 1800 424 017
QLD: Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 010 120
VIC: Sexual Assault Crisis Line 1800 806 292
SA: Yarrow Place (08) 8226 8787 or 1800 817 421 (outside Adelaide)
ACT: Canberra Rape Crisis Centre 6247 2525
WA: Sexual Assault Resource Centre 1800 199 888
NT: Ruby Gaea 8945 0155
TAS: Sexual Assault Support Service (south) 6231 0044 for the office (non-urgent) and 1800 697 877 (24hr crisis line) or Laurel House (north) 6334 2740
ABC Journalist Russell Jackson’s articles. Warning, these may be triggering for some people.
Addiction almost killed AFL star Rod Owen, but he was hiding the agony of abuse