Survivors of child sexual abuse, who courageously gave evidence toThe Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, are now torn between applying for compensation through the Redress Scheme and/or launching legal proceedings against the perpetrating organisations. Neither pathway is easy and neither has a guaranteed outcome. Historical child sexual abuse cases are notoriously difficult to win given the passage of time, lack of witnesses and the legal requirement for detailed information. Survivors and solicitors embarking on the marathon journey into the world of trauma and legal processes need to be well prepared.
Acknowledge the legal process will trigger trauma symptoms
Applying to the Redress Scheme or undertaking legal action is likely to be distressing. Revisiting the abuse, providing statements, and arguing your case may trigger flashbacks, nightmares and other trauma symptoms. During this time be proactive in care for yourself.
Gather a support team
Invite someone, other than the solicitor, to join you on the journey and be your support person. Ask them to accompany you to appointments, read information, discuss the case with you and retain the focus in appointments when you are distressed. Give consideration to who you would ask. Another trauma survivor may also be triggered by the process. Perhaps there could be more than one person to assist you.
Inform your family and friends that the legal process is likely to be stressful and lengthy. Try and be clear about what you need e.g. “After appointments, I may be distressed, can you spend some time with me?” “Can you come for a walk sometimes to help me manage the stress?” “I may just need a hug or my handheld, will you be able to do that for me?”
Access support through a psychologist, counsellor, social worker, or caseworker and schedule regular appointments in advance.
Commit to a rigorous self-care plan
Legal cases may go on for years and are stressful. They are indeed a marathon and not a sprint. Continue reading →
Through the Redress Scheme, those who have been sexually abused in Australian institutions now have the opportunity to obtain financial compensation, counselling and a personal apology for the horror they endured. But don’t for one minute think it will be an easy process.
On 14 September 2015 the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its Redress and Civil Litigation Report. After receiving submissions from more than 250 individuals and institutions, the 589-page report made 99 recommendations. There was an enormous financial cost to the Australian public for the Royal Commission so we should listen to what the Royal Commission had to say.
Here are some of the most significant recommendations regarding the Redress Scheme and what’s happened so far: Continue reading →
I love attending a wedding, as I wrote in Wedding Rings and Canoe Paddles. As a psychologist, my days are often filled with the sadness and problems of life so it’s joyous to take time out to witness the joining of families, friends, communities, and in this case countries. There seems to be so little opportunity to come together with old friends and family, separated as we often are by geography and busyness. A wedding is a wonderful chance to pause and celebrate the expression of love, to honour a shared history, to laugh, to cry and to reflect on the odd things that happen. This international wedding was no exception.
The Bride and Groom, Chelsea and Sean, live in New York, the bridesmaids in Brisbane, New York, Dubai and Cairns, the groomsmen in New York and Dubai, the Mother of the Groom in Florida the Mother of the Bride in Los Angeles and the Father of the Bride in Cairns. The guests were predominantly from Australia and the USA. That’s a lot of coming together. We attended the Cairns wedding and there was a second wedding in New York.
This is a couple who don’t live where either of them grew up, where either of them went to university, where either of them started work or near any family. They have worked hard to form and maintain friendships and family relationships across the world. This wedding celebrated and strengthened these connections.
So what traditions did this international couple keep, or make their own? Continue reading →
Getting to know your neighbours at a street party starts with a simple note in the letterbox:
Let’s do it again!
4 pm Sunday
On the grass out the front of No. 7
Bring your own everything – chairs, drinks and some nibbles to share.
We live in a cul de sac, a dead end street. We’re a friendly community but we don’t see much of each other except for these occasional gatherings. Judging by the turnout and the abundance of food and drink, most people welcome the opportunity to sit together and chat for an hour or two.
Some neighbours have lived on the street for over 25 years. These are the families who tell stories of long ago cricket games in the cul de sac. They ask after each other’s children, delighted Continue reading →
On Sunday I witnessed one of the most romantic and courageous acts I’ve seen. It was at a 60th birthday party. Our friend Mick was celebrating his birthday while lamenting the speed of life which had bought him to this point. He was surrounded by 26 friends and family and had just shouted us all to a delicious lunch. Hilarious anecdotes of his life bounced around the room and there were many heartfelt speeches rejoicing in a life well lived and promises to share more adventures in the future. Maybe you think a 60th birthday would be a dull event, but no, by that age the fine art of enjoyment has been perfected.
Mick has been married to Mary Jo for over 25 years and she stood to deliver her speech, however, she surprised us all, and instead of speaking she Continue reading →
It is such a rich experience to stay in a friends’ home, rather than in the anonymous blandness of a hotel. Friends delight in introducing you to the best of their world, the places that mean the most to them and the people who give meaning to their day to day lives.
We have just spent four nights with our friends Suzanne and Darryl in Puketurua, a tiny place in the middle of the North Island, New Zealand. I met Suzanne and Darryl when I was about 18 years old, with my ex-husband. Our relationship was full of the laughter, passion and intensity of two young couples in love and at the threshold of their lives. Over the last forty years we have only seen them a handful of times, nonetheless they have embraced Steven and when we catch up it’s as if we saw them yesterday.
Here are four of the diamonds from their lives that they shared with us:
The Table on the Deck: We ate all meals in this beautiful rural vista, fresh country food accompanied by the sound of cows lowing. These were joyous meals full of laughter and great conversation. Despite some tough times this couple has maintained a great passion for life, and each other. Suzanne and Darryl reckon that lethargy and joylessness Continue reading →
How do you celebrate your national day, and do you really know what and why you are celebrating?
It’s a bit sad when you have to resort to Google to confirm what the origin of the day is all about, but that’s what I did. For the record, Australia Day is celebrated on the 26th of January each year and marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the first fleet of British ships at Port Jackson, New South Wales, and raising of the flag of Great Britain at that site by Governor Arthur Phillip. (Thanks Wikipedia)
Whilst that’s the historic significance, today I’d suggest that most Australian’s use the day to celebrate our freedom, wealth and safety, the diversity of our community, and the spirit of “mateship”, all attributes that allow us to call Australia “The Lucky Country”. That’s how we spent the day.
Whilst we don’t get hung up on tradition, we always seem to find ourselves spending the day with close friends, sharing the good weather, great food, chilled wine, stories from the year just past, and our plans ahead. Always with plenty of laughter. Where would we be without others to share Continue reading →
I love a good wedding, and Felicity and Job’s was one of the best. It was a spectacularly beautiful summer’s day as they married in the chapel at Sanctuary Cove. The glorious weather was truly appreciated as the day before had seen a deluge of rain resulting in closed roads due to flooding.
How wonderful to see families and friends come together for such a joyous occasion. The chapel was full of children laughing and smiling, I’m so glad they were included.
It’s such an honour to be invited to a wedding, to share that special time when a couple make their commitment to each other. Felicity and Job had written their own vows and the heartfelt expression of their love for each other, and their hopes for the future, ensured many tears Continue reading →
I don’t think I was having one when I bought the Harley at age 45, but I was probably a perfect fit for the stereo typical label. It was just a time in my life when it was what I wanted and could afford it. Did it matter that I didn’t even have a motor bike licence? Not to me it didn’t.
Hang on…..before you get all righteous, let me explain.
When I returned from Papua New Guinea in 2000, I was fortunate to get in early on the Peter Lik train………destination, world domination. I was employed by Peter as his group CEO at the time when Peter had one small photographic Gallery in Cairns, North Queensland. Within four years, Continue reading →
The enduring book club has been meeting now for about six years. We were originally all connected through our work but our paths have now separated. There were a few more of us, but now we are just five. We are all counsellors, psychologists, case managers and social workers. We plan to meet about once a month….. but it usually ends up with a bigger gap as we struggle to find a shared date that fits. We sometimes remember to talk about the book.
I love this warm, funny, smart, caring group of woman. It’s a safe place to talk about the challenges of our work, to get suggestions and Continue reading →