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Blue Knot Foundation issues urgent call to address childhood trauma

This Blue Knot Day, the foundation is calling on the federal government to commit more to addressing adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse

Leading not-for-profits have called on the federal government to further its commitment to raising awareness on the impacts of institutional child sexual abuse.

It comes after the national apology for survivors, in which Prime Minister Scott Morrison committed to reviewing the royal commission and opening a National Centre that would inform the public on the decades of trauma – a welcome “start”, but not enough.

President of Blue Knot Foundation, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said the organisation supported the federal government’s existing commitment but more will need to be done: “The action needs to meet the needs of survivors with best-practice services informed by research.”

The call for change has been issued on Blue Knot Day, the national day to support adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse. This year, Blue Knot Day will feature the theme ‘REAL LIVES REAL CHANGE’ to acknowledge the need for more support services.

In the wake of the national apology, charities have called for the government to do more for survivors, including stripping institutions who refuse to opt into the National Redress Scheme of charity tax exemptions and be issued a considerable fine.

Kezelman said that the apology highlighted the people who have experienced different forms of abuse and neglect, and called for the centre to include them: “It needs a wider remit to investigate and respond to the complex impacts of childhood trauma, including sexual abuse on individuals, the community and the economy of childhood trauma.”

With the government currently prioritising the issue by moving responsibility for the National Office of Child Safety into the Prime Minister’s portfolio, Kezelman said that the commitment to the National Centre of Excellence is much-needed.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a National Centre of Excellence be established to raise awareness and understanding of the impacts of child sexual abuse, support help-seeking and guide best practice advocacy, support and therapeutic treatment,” Kezelman said.

She said that while the Blue Knot Foundation applauds the centre’s establishment, “it also agrees that support should be broadened to encompass all areas of childhood trauma”.

Kezelman said that its proposed National Research and Service Excellence Centre would lead the development of appropriate service models and interventions by coordinating a national research agenda and conducting high-quality program evaluations. It would also raise awareness while improving practitioner’s abilities to support victims.

She added that national Blue Knot Day was a time to “be visible in our strength of support for change” and that with the right support, survivors of abuse and trauma can recover.

“This is about real lives, real support and real change. The time for balance, for turning away, for hiding, for funning and denying is over. This is about us as a national helping to turn shattered lives around.”

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