WITH the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse well under way, the issue of child sexual abuse now turns its attention towards the Anglican Church in Newcastle.
The recent announcement of a police investigation, Strike Force Arinya-2, will address allegations of child sexual abuse by members of the Newcastle Diocese of the Anglican Church during the 1970s.
This will build upon the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry into child sexual abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese of the Catholic Church earlier this year.
The issue of child sexual abuse is at the forefront of Newcastle’s agenda as the institutions that were, and arguably still are, complicit in the repeated abuse, neglect and cruelty towards children in their care are being brought to justice.
We are finally beginning to see a unified response for the estimated 5million adult survivors of childhood trauma nationwide.
The recent announcement by the Abbott government to extend the royal commission by the recommended two years gives everyone hope for real and sustained change.
However, to prevent such events from recurring, it’s important we request a solution that is enforceable, achievable and equitable, with strict parameters set for all institutions.
It must include mechanisms for monitoring, implementation, evaluation and accountability to ensure the Australian children of the future are safe and cared for.
There is no denying we are at the beginning of a very long journey to change the stigma surrounding child abuse, but we can only applaud the progress that has already been made.
Victims have been given a voice, perpetrators are being brought in front of the courts and many children in ominous situations have been rescued.
This month, beginning with Blue Knot Day, which was held on Monday, October 27, Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) is working to reduce the stigma surrounding this issue and spread the message of hope and optimism – that survivors can and do recover.
This year, many people within the Newcastle community will help to make recovery possible for the one in four survivors of childhood trauma over the age of 18.
We must work together as a united front – this isn’t just an issue that affects institutions but our friends and family.
The sad reality is that individuals don’t need to be overtly abusive for children to be harmed and at risk of harm. Parents or caregivers who have their own unresolved trauma can struggle to attune to their child’s needs, which can often prevent them from nurturing their children.
I’m so proud that ASCA is leading the way in defining best practice through our internationally acclaimed Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery, which ensures adult survivors receive the correct treatment of adverse childhood experiences and in turn better their children. We are lessening the burden of early death, disease, disability and entrenched social problems.
Furthermore, we now know that, with the right support, even the most severely early traumatic childhood experiences can be resolved. When a parent has resolved their trauma, their children do well. This allows both medical practitioners, therapists and the wider community to advance their understanding about the effects of trauma on the brain and, along with it, pathways to recovery, appropriate treatment and specialist services.
Many survivors of childhood trauma show remarkable resilience. However, many are left struggling day to day with the fundamental sense of who they are and where they fit in the world. People who have experienced childhood trauma fill our mental health appointment schedules, hospitals, detox units, homeless shelters, welfare queues and jails. Others may seem to function well but feel empty inside, battle feelings of isolation, insecurity and shame, low self-esteem, and struggle to mediate their emotions and relationships.
Join with Adults Surviving Child Abuse this month to unite in support of the estimated 5million Australian adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. Help us to help survivors to reclaim their lives.
For support, call ASCA’s Professional Support Line on 1300657380 Monday to Sunday, 9am to 5pm, or visit asca.org.au.
Dr Cathy Kezelman is the president of Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA)