My friend is terrified of lifts so we climbed up the dingy stairwell to the third floor, only to find our exit door locked. After pointlessly pulling at the securely locked door a few times, we turned and scurried back down the stairs, to find the door we’d entered through also locked. Anxiety slowly rose in my throat. What if we’re stuck in the stairwell for eternity?
Frantically, we descended further flinging open the lower ground floor door to the street, bursting out into the bright sunshine. We re-entered the building, now no option remained but to brave the lift. My friend scooted into the back corner, her body firmly pressed against the walls, arms folded against her chest. Her eyes startled with fear and yet also relieved that we were the only ones locked in the confined, windowless space that she hates so much.
The long hallway to the inner city psychiatrist’s office was bland and soulless, terracotta tiled floor, cream walls and mission brown fixtures – a flashback to the ’70s.
Waiting outside the psychiatrist’s office
The psychiatrist, unknown to my friend or me, greeted her warmly, even though we were 10 minutes early. The psychiatrist had received a myriad of documents and clearly knew that this appointment was going to be distressing for my friend. Despite the kindliness of the psychiatrist, my friend looked pleadingly at me as she slowly followed her to the psychiatrist’s office. She Continue reading →
Today, 13/3/2018, Cardinal Pell received a maximum sentence of six years for the sexual abuse of two teenage boys, after Sunday mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1966. He will be eligible for parole in three years and eight months.
While handing down the sentence Chief Judge Peter Kidd said Pell been “breathtakingly arrogant” and “brazen and callous” in his offending.
That Australia’s most senior Catholic leader has been found guilty of child sexual assault astounds me. No longer is the Catholic church successful at covering up its heinous deeds.
Pell is now guilty and imprisoned. It’s likely that others who have been sexually abused as children, and who have remained silent, may now be considering legal action against their perpetrators. Before you embark on a marathon legal journey, read Survivors and Solicitors, and make sure you have a strong team with you.
Original Post 8 May 2018.
Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic leader, was committed to stand trial for Continue reading →
Clients often experience a wave of relief after their first counselling session. Their burden is shared and they feel joined on their journey. That old saying, a worry shared is a worry halved rings true.
Sometimes, you don’t recognise how burdened you’re feeling until the load eases, as I experienced recently. I’d been working on Ms Forgotten Australian’s biography for over four years and had come to the end of my skills, capability, and motivation. I knew I had to do more but had no idea Continue reading →
Writing the biography of Ms Forgotten Australian led me into a foreign world, one of abusive Catholic clergy and the ominous power of the Catholic Church. Ms Forgotten Australian spent her childhood in the now infamous St Joseph’s Orphanage, Neerkol. Sadly her time there included child sexual abuse by priests and systemic cover-up by the Church.
In May 2018 Archbishop Phillip Wilson was convicted of the cover-up of sexual abuse of altar boys. Priest Jim Fletcher abused the boys in the Hunter Region of New South Wales during the 1970’s. Last month Magistrate Robert Stone found Wilson guilty of concealing a serious indictable offence of another person. This is a landmark Australian case due to the precedent it set. The conviction Continue reading →
On Saturday Ms Forgotten Australian and I listened to Rhonda Collard Spratt, who, with Jacki Ferro has authored Alice’s Daughter: Lost Mission Child. Rhonda is Alice’s daughter and she is a delightful raconteur. She shared stories of her life, enlivened with music, poetry, and much laughter. Aunty Rhonda, as she is known, brings warmth and inclusiveness to a story of violence and separation.
A parent abuses a child, yet that same parent is also responsible for feeding and sheltering the child. Fear of retribution deftly silences the child. No adults are seen as safe.
Condemnation and punishment await an unruly and antisocial boy, who has no words to describe his chaotic emotional world or the abuse he is experiencing. Opportunities for disclosure are lost.
A teenage girl internalises her shame, silenced by the myth of the perfect family. No one would believe what happens in her family. The self-inflicted slashes on her thighs scream her pain, but no one hears. Continue reading →
I’m writing my dear friend’s biography, which has the working title of Not Forgotten. It’s been a labour of love, but often, more like hard dull labour than passionate love. I have felt like a pregnant elephant, holding this huge story deep inside me for the longest time. But elephants only gestate for two years, and this book has been in production for over four years. I now know that four years is not unusual for a book. The process seems endless – interview, research, write, get feedback from readers, edit, interview more people, write, get more feedback from readers, edit. Repeat multiple times. Then become overwhelmed by the enormity of the task, drown in self-doubt, pick yourself up and get going again.
I blogged in 2015 for a year. The purpose was to hone my writing skills while my husband Steven and I enjoyed six restorative months away from our busy lives, travelling the world. Those posts are still here, now mostly irrelevant, but I can’t bear to delete them. Since then I have continued to work on Not Forgotten. Now I’m firing up the blog again to motivate me through the final stages of labour – getting it from a manuscript to publication.
During the gestation period Not Forgotten has led me to thought-provoking places; the magnificent State Library of Victoria, an orphanage for critically ill children in China, a psychiatrist’s room, a rock climbing expedition and decaying buildings in Far North Queensland. I have become the keeper of my friend’s family history, with cupboards overflowing with documents, diaries and photos of people I do not know. My life has been enriched by the growth of a cherished friendship.
Recently we went to the launch of Be Enterprise, an innovative social enterprise program of Logan Women’s Health and Wellbeing Centre. The evening combined the launch of the program with a healthy amount of fund raising. The invitation to attend had been extended to me by Liz Irvine, Chair of the Board, and since I’d had a role in her being on the board in the first place it was an offer I really couldn’t refuse.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a women focused event and it was great to step outside my normal routine. I felt recharged after the night as I listened to women with conviction and passion speak about the work they do to make a difference to women’s lives.
Shannon Fentiman MP – Minister for Communities, Women and Youth, Minister for Child Safety, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Member for Waterford reminded us that the gender pay gap is still alive and well, with woman being paid, on average, 17% less than men. I thought of a recent conversation Continue reading →
In Beijing we are staying with Wei and Karin. Wei, a pediatric surgeon, planned to visit an orphanage and I was keen to accompany him. The book I am writing, currently called Not Forgotten, is the life story of a woman who was in an orphanage in Australia from 2-10 years old, so I have developed an interest in orphanages and how they operate.
Even though Wei told me that the children we would meet were the most severely handicapped, I still had a naive view that we would be seeing some cute, chubby faced adorable Chinese babies who would be smiling and gurgling at me, but that was not to be.
We take many journeys through life and they are not all connected with travel. Major life journeys I have enjoyed include studying at university, getting married, building a house and of course having children. I love the way you start at some place with no clear view of where you will end up, and the journey unfolds as you go along. I have long believed that life is about the journey not the destination. Writing the book of my friends life has been another journey that has led me to delightfully unexpected places.