Welcome to our July newsletter. This month, we take the opportunity to reflect on the year so far, and provide updates to our recent activities.
The IGFF team continue to provide crucial support and advocacy work remotely, and if you have any specific questions about our work or anything in this email you can get in touch with us on (03) 9940 1533 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
As our office is based in Victoria, we continue to follow government guidelines closely, which now include wearing a face covering when in public. To find out more about this, you can read the Department of Health and Human Service’s online guide.
Reflections on the First Half of 2020
As we enter the second half of 2020, it’s a good opportunity to share some reflections on what the IGFF team have achieved in the year so far.
As a National Redress Scheme Support Service, our federal government funding has been renewed for the second half of 2020. The Foundation will continue to demand accountability and more Survivor-centric processes for those on the journeys to justice and healing, and provide our essential client support services.
Client Support and Advocacy
Despite restrictions on being able to provide face-to-face service throughout much of 2020, our team has worked hard to ensure that everything continues remotely. Their hard work and dedication has enabled IGFF to respond to Survivors in a more comprehensive and varied way than ever before.
Our face-to-face client outreach, when not under Covid-19 related restrictions, has expanded enormously, and has included visits to regional Victoria. We have also built capacity to resource clients’ access to local supports and practical welfare, including linking with council services for aged care and local foodbank programs.
With the three case workers Ingrid, Hannah and Ruairi joining the Foundation in early 2020, staff specialisation now includes experience and expertise across gender and family violence, disability support, addiction recovery services, education, service reform, family services, child protection, domestic violence and family health. All staff have also received extensive training while at IGFF, with a particular focus on trauma-informed care practices and vicarious trauma support.
For many people, the public health crisis has and may continue to cause some anxiety. Along with information about coping strategies, our team have ensured that people receive the extra, regular support as they need it.
Client interactions over the past twelve months
The kind of sessions recorded in IGFF’s reporting over the past six months
Systemic Advocacy and Community Engagement
Along with our outreach program and individual client work, IGFF continue to lobby for systemic change. This has included working in areas of legislative reform, policy development and event coordination. All of the Foundation’s broader community and social advocacy is shaped by feedback from clients and case workers, in the process of working towards Survivor-centric systemic change.
We have been working with a range of community groups and organisations, and have welcomed staff members with expertise in policy and advisory work, in particular Joe as Head of Government Relations & Media Communications.
Through initiatives like the Mutual Aid Database, which acts as a directory of online community support groups, organised by Hannah, our team have responded to the public health crisis in innovative and urgently required ways. We also continue to provide consultancy work and assistance on memorial projects in a Survivor-led capacity.
With a more diverse partnership network, and more ways of connecting Survivors and communities to resources and ways of making their voices heard than ever before, the Foundation’s individual client work and systemic advocacy continue to complement each other.
The Journey to Justice
In response to the final deadline for institutions to sign onto the National Redress Scheme passing, IGFF CEO Clare Leaney published an op-ed in The New Daily about the process of seeking justice for Survivors. As she writes:
A person’s right to their “day in court” is a keystone of our democratic legal system.
It embodies the very virtues of justice and the right for all those aggrieved, to use the courts to find their remedy.
Unfortunately, for those seeking justice for crimes of historical abuse, the path is a long and protracted one.
Whether it is the 18 to 24 months it takes on average for a claim to be resolved, the reticence of institutions to constructively engage with victims, or the outrageous legal loophole found in most Australian jurisdictions that allow a survivor to be cross-examined by their abusers.
Too often the hurdles standing in the way of survivors seeking redress are many and placed at painfully short intervals.
As CEO of the nationally recognised charity and registered National Redress Scheme support service, In Good Faith Foundation (IGFF), I receive dozens of distressed calls and messages a week from clients driven to near breaking point by the trauma that interacting with the legal process can cause.
Charities like In Good Faith Foundation will continue to provide ongoing support and advocacy for survivors, but until there is structural consistency within the legal jurisdictions across Australia – too many survivors of institutional abuse will be left behind.
A person’s journey in coming forward to call out their abuser is an incredibly courageous and difficult one.
It takes on many different routes and is a truly unique experience for each and every individual that treads this path.
What is consistent, however, is the minefield of red tape and unnecessary burden lumped on each and every individual seeking justice.
There are systemic and bureaucratic barriers that stand in the way of people trying to traverse the justice system and achieve redress.
In many respects, Australia has to lead the way in acknowledging and proving a response to institutional abuse.
Now it’s time to see that this initial groundwork is converted into a speedy resolution for people who have already experienced a lifetime of pain, in their pursuit of justice.
You can read the full article online here: https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2020/07/03/journey-to-justice/
Last week, Vincent Ryan was released from prison. He remains a Catholic priest. In the words of IGFF CEO Clare Leaney: “It is inconceivable to any reasonable person that members of the clergy, who are convicted of heinous crimes against children, are not automatically defrocked.
Survivors of institutional abuse are again reflecting on the tremendous trauma of the past and ongoing pain of the present. Today, as with every day, we stand with you and we honour your courage.”
In other recent news from the Catholic Church, it has been announced that the Catholic Professional Standards Ltd (CPSL) will close at the end of this year. The CPSL was formed in 2017 to set standards within the Church for child safety, and then audit and report on compliance with these standards, in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Since the agency was seen as the bearer of reform, this decision has been widely criticised as its work is now expected to be done largely ‘in-house’ with no accountability.
With the deadline for institutions to announce their intentions to join the National Redress Scheme now passed, the Jehovah’s Witnesses remain the only national organisation that has refused to do so. This news is devastating for many Survivors.
We stand in solidarity with SaySorry.org, JW News and their campaign for a better future for Survivors. Say Sorry’s report can be read online, which outlines how the Jehovah’s Witnesses also refuses to say sorry, meet with survivors, or adopt any Royal Commission recommendations.
This article also combines a number of recent investigations to discuss the impact that this choice is already having on Survivors, families and communities across the country.
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 email@example.com.
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.