As we’re heading towards the new decade, IGFF would like to share some updates, and just a few of the things we’ve has been up to recently.
As always, the Foundation has been committed to systemic advocacy, working towards vital social changes that will allow for greater justice and recovery for Survivors.
IGFF Meeting with Melbourne City Councillor
In November, we met with Melbourne City Councillor Nicholas Frances Gilley regarding child safety around religious institutions. Cr Frances Gilley has been lobbying for mandatory reporting for all churches, and proposed a motion suggesting that churches that refuse to uphold new Victorian mandatory reporting laws have signs outside them stating that child safety cannot be guaranteed.
As a former Anglican priest and Survivor himself, Cr Gilley emphasises that those in power have a responsibility to prevent abuse from happening again. He is quoted in the CBD News saying:
“We have all these places of worship, and I am unaware of how many people there might be that think their faith put[s] them above the law with respect to this issue.
So, if we as a council know that there are people who wouldn’t mandatorily report, shouldn’t we be considering what we should do about that rather than wait to hear that somebody was abused, somebody did confess or tell someone, and because of their faith they didn’t report that.”
National Redress Scheme and Open Place updates
CEO Clare Leaney and Advocacy Manager Rachel Last have also been involved in many discussions over recent months about the National Redress Scheme. IGFF attended a Redress Scheme round table last month, as well as a collaborative planning workshop with fellow Redress services. These discussions are an important way to provide feedback on the ways Survivors are experiencing the Scheme, as well as how support can be improved moving forward.
In similar news, IGFF was invited to provide consultation as Open Place enters a period of transition. Open Place is a support service that provides advocacy and assistance to people who lived in Victorian orphanages and care homes in the twentieth century and identify as Forgotten Australians. As the organisation’s services were previously delivered by Berry Street, you can find out more about what this transition period means for those involved on their FAQ page.
Excitingly, our Comedy for a Cause fundraiser on Friday 29 November was a fantastic night, and raised over $1600! We would like to again thank everyone for coming along and sharing the event with their circles, along with our generous donors who made for an extremely exciting raffle and silent auction. The night would have been nothing without the four comedians – Ben Knight, Alex Ward, James Masters and Zack Dyer – as well as some very engaging contributions from the audience.
IGFF Annual Report 2018-19
In advance of last month’s final Board Meeting and AGM, Clare and the IGFF staff prepared the 2019 Annual Report. We highly encourage having a click through to read what this year has meant for the organisation. Mikayla Burge, who was on student placement with us through the later half of the year, wrote in her report the following:
“Being surrounded by this trauma-related work has taught me not only how strong Survivors are but how to be strong myself in working with such confronting material. In spite of how difficult a topic this often is for people to discuss, I now understand how important it is to keep the conversation going, so to speak, in order to acknowledge Survivors and their experiences and help them on their path to justice.”
If you would like to read or share the full report, it is available online on our website here: https://igff.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Annual-Report-2019-1.pdf
Recent Australian News
‘George Pell supporters told to write Christmas cards to convicted paedophile’, from 7News, December 2019
Our CEO Clare Leaney was interviewed in this 7News piece on George Pell being sent Christmas cards, as well as his recent visit from former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Hoping to re-centre the experiences of Survivors in this discussion, she said, “For a lot of Survivors of abuse, there is no holiday period. That’s been taken away from them. These are people that have lost their faith and their connection to the church and I think the festive season reinforces the isolation some people can have.”
IGFF understands how difficult the holidays can be for Survivors, as well as the impact of seeing the constant rehashing of news about Pell in the media, and want to share our solidarity and support in this time. Please contact us if you feel you may need support of any kind.
“For many Survivors the holiday period is just that – something to be survived”
‘George Pell appeal: Sleepless nights, no end in sight for victims of Pell, fellow priests’, from The Age, November 2019
Clare, along with Father Kevin Dillon of Lifeboat Geelong, spoke to The Age about the recent news on Pell’s appeal, and the effect this constant media attention can have on Survivors. During this period, we would like to repeat the words of Jim Boyle, MVC leader, who said during the initial court proceedings:
“It is most important that each of us realises and acknowledges that such stresses will occur now, they are part of the normal and understandable efforts we make, consciously and unconsciously, to cope with the enormity of our experiences.
At such a time we can revert to the mechanisms we have each used in the past to cope with these stresses but, if the stresses are unduly disturbing, we should engage help from those whom we’ve found helpful in the past, such as family and close and trusted friends. Reactions can vary greatly. They don’t always follow a predictable or logical pattern. If necessary we should immediately arrange sound professional support from psychologists, counsellors or experienced advocates.
CALL FOR PROFESSIONAL HELP IF YOU HAVE THE SLIGHTEST THOUGHT THAT YOU MAY NEED IT
It is a time to celebrate – primarily – that we have survived.”
Open support services through the New Year
The IGFF office will be closed for the holidays between Friday 20 December, reopening on Monday 6 January.
We understand that the festive season can be an emotional and difficult time for many people, particularly Survivors. We would like to acknowledge and express our solidarity with those who are estranged from, or have lost members of their families and communities.
We would also like to reinforce the need for self-care during this time. One key strategy is using services that are available – such as phone and online counselling services. If counselling support or assistance is required, these are some useful free helplines that are open over the break.
If you or someone you care about is in immediate danger, call EMERGENCY 000.
24 hours, 7 days a week support:
- Beyond Blue Support Service, 1300 224 636, provides immediate advice and support on depression and anxiety.
- 1800RESPECT, 1800 737 732, offers confidential information, counselling and support for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
- MensLine, 1300 787 978, is a counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns of any time.
- Suicide Call Back Service, 1300 659 467, provides counselling to people who are affected by suicide.
- Lifeline, 13 11 14, is a confidential telephone crisis support service for anyone needing crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Daytime support, with staff who will call back during office hours:
- Blue Knot Foundation, 1300 657 380, Monday to Sunday 9–5 AEST. The Blue Knot Helpline trauma counsellors give specialised support to Survivors.
- Child Wise, 1800 991 099, Monday to Sunday 9-5 AEST. The Child Wise helpline is staffed by trained trauma-informed counsellors for those who have experienced child abuse in an institutional context.
You can contact the National Redress Scheme on 1800 737 377, Monday to Friday 8–5 AEST.
News from Government Inquiries
‘”I cannot comprehend”: Sex abuse royal commissioner slams Catholic leaders’, from The Sydney Morning Herald, December 2019
Justice Peter McClellan, head of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has spoken out for the first time since its findings to condemn the Catholic church. In a speech to the Australian Human Rights Commission, he has slammed Catholic leaders for failing to recognise child sexual assault as a crime, saying:
“I cannot comprehend how any person, much less one with qualifications in theology … could consider the rape of a child to be a moral failure but not a crime. This statement by leaders of the Catholic Church marks out the corruption within the Church both within Australia, and it seems from reports, in many other parts of the world.”
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System has delivered its interim report, which can be accessed online.
- An additional 170 acute mental health beds for young people and adults to meet demand
- The establishment of a mental health centre for excellence
- The establishment of a centre focused on culturally appropriate treatment for Aboriginal Victorians, to work closely with community-controlled organisations
Alongside our systemic lobbying and advocacy, In Good Faith continues to provide support to our wide client base of Survivors. We would like to acknowledge how difficult the holiday season can be for Survivors of religious abuse, and that this can be a period of isolation.
Our office is open until Friday 20 December, and please make sure to note that we have shared a list of useful helplines above. We encourage those who may need support to utilise these services.
Our solidarity and thoughts are, as always, with Survivors, their families, supporters and communities in this time.
If you have any more questions about what we’ve been up to, how we can support Survivors, or any of our services, you can leave a message for us to call back at (03) 9940 1533 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IGFF is committed to achieving justice for Survivors of institutional abuse. We acknowledge the strength, courage and sacrifices of all on the journey to recovery.
IGFF would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we work and live. We pay our respect to Elders past, present and emerging.