DENNIS Hay has spent four weeks at Heal for Life’s Mayumarri centre at Cessnock.
Three of those weeks were good experiences. One was bad, he said.
But he said it has kept him alive.
He is not an uncritical supporter of Heal for Life, or Liz Mullinar who ‘‘can come across as abrasive’’, he said.
He was mistakenly accepted on a ‘‘Christian week’’ for child abuse victims who want to maintain their faith. When he raised objections the matter was not dealt with well, he said.
He is also concerned at Ms Mullinar’s comments about satanic ritual abuse, and a clear pathway for raising issues about carers and the programs offered.
But Mr Hay said he would go back to Mayumarri for help.
‘‘I believe she’s doing the best she can with the skills she’s got,’’ he said. ‘‘The people she’s dealing with are people no one wants to know.’’
Mr Hay met and befriended Belmont North man John Pirona at Mayumarri.
Mr Pirona, who committed suicide last year after ‘‘too much pain’’ from being sexually assaulted by paedophile priest John Denham, said he ‘‘learnt to accept what happened to me’’ because of Heal for Life.
Mr Pirona had talked about becoming a volunteer carer at Mayumarri, Mr Hay said.
Robyn Cotterell-Jones, of victims’ group VOCAL, said she was ‘‘really concerned’’ about allegations by former volunteer carers.
‘‘I really am very concerned about people not getting enough preparation as carers, and not getting enough support to deal with other people’s needs,’’ Ms Cotterell-Jones said. ‘‘You have to be really careful their own issues are well managed.’’
Adults Surviving Child Abuse spokeswoman Dr Cathy Kezelman said the involvement of peer workers was important and the health and welfare of all people working in the child abuse area was critical.
She confirmed that Heal for Life and Adults Surviving Child Abuse became legally and financially separate organisations 10 years ago because of different philosophies about the involvement of health professionals and peer workers in treatment programs.
Dr Kezelman said all allegations of harm in systems required careful investigation.
The allegations raised by former carers at Mayumarri needed to be treated seriously.
‘‘All practitioners and services need to be held accountable and be open to independent transparent scrutiny when allegations arise if we are to see real change,’’ she said.
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