November 2021 Newsletter

IGFF’s Monthly Newsletter

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This month’s preparations for the Annual Report and Annual General Meeting gave the IGFF team an opportunity to reflect on the incredible resilience of our community, the strengths shown over recent years, and our hopes for the future.

This newsletter provides some recent updates, alongside a glimpse into key sections of our Annual Report, which is available in full on our website. The full version includes more information about IGFF’s services.

As IGFF CEO Clare Leaney concluded in her report:

It is worth considering that we would not be sitting here today had it not been for the grace and courage of Survivors and their families and the bravery of whistle-blowers. As a team, IGFF will continue to do as we have always done – providing a source of hope for many and finding inspiration in the changes made possible by the capabilities of our community. 

We are, as always, grateful to our wider network of Survivors and supporters for helping us hold onto hope and find inspiration to continue to do our work.

If anything in this email raises any questions for you, you want to get in touch or to find out more about our organisation, services or membership, you can give us a  call on 1300 12 4433 or email igff@igff.org.au.

Read the 2020-21 Annual Report online here



Some recent updates

Clergy abuse victims slam south west parish name change, The Warrnambool Standard

The choice by the Diocese of Ballarat to name their South West Coast parish ‘Star of the Sea’ when an abusive priest from the Diocese, Paul David Ryan, is facing potentially being deported to the Star of the Sea parish in Virginia Beach has been widely criticised.

IGFF CEO Clare Leaney spoke to the Warrnambool Standard, stating:

This has sent a real shockwave through our Survivor community, particularly those located in the Warrnambool area. It has resulted in a lot of hurt and confusion about why this name change was made without any consideration of the harm that has been done.

When these renaming processes are undertaken without investigating some of the really hurtful parts of our history, it can be very damaging.

Sharing the history of abuse in Satyananda Yoga and the courage of Survivors

website has just been launched, created by former initiates of Satyananda Yoga, yoga teachers and academics to share the stories and testimony of Survivors. By speaking to the ongoing impacts of abuse in the community, this aims to continue the work of people who spoke about their experiences to the Royal Commission.

As the website states to Survivors:

You are no longer alone. 

To all of you we offer our deepest sympathy and respect, and our care and support as we search for truth, healing reparation and justice.

To the family members and friends of the survivors and supporters we thank you for taking a stand against violence and abuse in yoga. Though many of you, too, have been blamed, shamed and silenced, we say, you too are no longer alone.

To the advocates and allies we say, take good care of yourselves, the journey you have embarked upon is long and arduous. Let us attend to our ethical and moral duty together so that the next generation can be better informed about what is right and what is wrong in yoga.

Brave survivors, your experiences will not be relegated to the annals of past history for we understand that your experiences are not historic, they are ever-present. As such, your stories will be held here for the world to see and for future generations to learn from and honour.

Improving the Justice System Response to Sexual Offences, The Victorian Law Reform Commission

The Victorian Law Reform Commission have published the final report of their major inquiry, which spanned 18 months. Among other organisations, IGFF submitted suggestions for key changes to support Survivors seeking justice and support.

As listed on their website, the key proposed reforms include supporting restorative justice, increasing support for victims and Survivors, making criminal trials less traumatic, a Commission for Sexual Safety, a stronger model of affirmative consent and easier reporting processes.

We will follow these reforms closely, as the Victorian Government has announced that it will introduce stronger laws for Survivors in response to these recommendations.

IGFF will continue to advocate for support for Survivors and people impacted by sexual violence to have access to holistic, wrap around support at every step of the healing journey.

Everyday Courage: Voices of Courage

For many Survivors of institutional child abuse, connecting to the wider Survivor community can be crucial. While each person’s journey is unique, the courage of others who have chosen to share parts of their story and healing journey can be a catalyst for others to reach out and reduce isolation.

In the Voices of Courage series, we share some of the key advocates and voices for change that have inspired our team and wider community.

You can follow our Facebook for more updates in this series.

May be an image of text that says ""You've got to find a safe spot for yourself. Be truthful. Be honest with yourself. Express yourself clearly. It's difficult. Many of us don't know how to. We've never been able to talk about deep-rooted problems confronting us. And take yourself seriously. We don't know our full potential unless we take ourselves more seriously." In Good Faith FOUNDATION INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE RECOVERY VOICES OF COURAGE"

Celebrated actor, musician and activist Jack Charles has consistently spoken out about the experience of Stolen Generations Survivors, and his own experiences as a Wiradjuri, Boonwurrung, Djadjawurrung, Woiwurrung and Yorta Yorta Survivor.

From testifying about religious institutional abuse to the Royal Commission to working with the Healing Foundation to build awareness of the intergenerational, ongoing violence and trauma of colonisation and child abuse, he has stood up for justice and change.

When asked for his advice for people feeling vulnerable and having suicidal thoughts in an interview last year, he responded:

You’ve got to find a safe spot for yourself. Be truthful. Be honest with yourself. Express yourself clearly. It’s difficult. Many of us don’t know how to. We’ve never been able to talk about deep-rooted problems confronting us. And take yourself seriously. We don’t know our full potential unless we take ourselves more seriously. 

Our 2020-21 Annual Report

Directors’ Report

2020-21 has been another year marked by the COVID pandemic and its far-reaching impact on the Survivor community. Like last year, demand for IGFF’s services rose dramatically versus pre-pandemic levels, with our dedicated team of caseworkers providing support and advocacy services to hundreds of people. Despite the pandemic, Survivors have continued to demonstrate just how resilient they can be, and, in their contact with IGFF, they have continued to adapt successfully to the particular challenges the pandemic has presented.

While increasing numbers of Survivors reaching out and receiving the support they need on their journey towards justice, redress and healing is positive and cause for hope, as always, it’s sobering to see how widespread and insidious cases of institutional abuse are. More than ever, IGFF remains focused on our goal of helping to prevent institutional abuse and promoting wellbeing and justice for Survivors. This mission manifested in multiple ways in 2020-21, from ongoing advocacy at both government and responsible institution level, to an increased focus on education initiatives. The latter has included work with several institutions to better provide Survivors with acknowledgement of past harms, assist them to act in a trauma-informed manner, and to provide insights and expertise to ensure safer environments in the future.

An important undertaking for the IGFF Board and Executive this year has been a review of the organisation’s Constitution and governing principles and the creation of a new Constitution, together with the development of a Charter to assist IGFF in its mission. This has been carried out with the assistance of external corporate governance legal experts. While our fundamental mission and values remain unchanged (and unwavering), it is envisaged this work will help ensure best practice governance and that our endeavours always align to the mission of the Foundation and, most importantly, the evolving needs of the Survivor community.

An increased demand for support services has seen IGFF’s team grow, with a number of new and talented caseworkers and support personnel joining the Foundation in 2021. With demand for our services sadly not likely to diminish in 2022, the IGFF Board has highlighted the need for greater awareness and support at a philanthropic level. Next year will see a relaunch of the Foundation’s Ambassador program as well as several fundraising initiatives. This work will also help ensure IGFF is able to continue to provide wrap-around support to the Survivor community for the long-term.

Matthew Quoi and Penny Savidis
President and Vice President
Board of Directors

Chief Executive Officer Report

2020-21 is a year perhaps best characterised by three things – adapting to the ever-changing COVID-normal, holding on to hope and finding inspiration. Where 2019-20 plunged us into a global health pandemic perhaps more challenging than any other in living memory, this last year has defined our responses as individuals, families, and communities.

As I reflect on where we were when I first commenced work in this area 10 years ago, I realise that we have taken enormous strides forwards in recognising and responding to the harms of institutional abuse. All too often, though, I am reminded that we cannot afford to slip into complacency and adopt a ‘problem solved’ mentality, for there is still much work to be done.

I am incredibly grateful to the expanded and very talented staff team at IGFF, whose work both in delivering face to face service provision and systematically advocating for broader societal reform means that even in a year such as this, we have secured meaningful and tangible results for Survivors, families and communities across Australia.

I am often asked what success looks like. For IGFF, it is simple; a diverse and multitalented team, combining outstanding service delivery with tireless advocacy with and on behalf of those impacted by institutional abuse. Everyone’s journey is different; respecting and working with those differences to highlight the strength and resilience of the Survivor community is our motivator.
Our work ahead ensures that regardless of the path that they choose for redress, Survivors have access to mental healthcare as a lifelong commitment to care when and where it is needed – reflecting that the damage caused by abuse is all too often long-lasting and recurring. Accompanying this, Survivors need ongoing casework support. Redress outcomes can be uncertain and will often fall a long way short of what the Survivor feels is just. Having someone trusted, knowledgeable and compassionate to assist makes all the difference.

It is worth considering that we would not be sitting here today had it not been for the grace and courage of Survivors and their families and the bravery of whistle-blowers. As a team, IGFF will continue to do as we have always done – providing a source of hope for many and finding inspiration in the changes made possible by the capabilities of our community.

Clare Leaney
Chief Executive Officer

Survivor Services Report

This report marks a significant achievement in IGFF’s history with Survivor services delivered successfully by remote staff working entirely from their Melbourne homes during the longest COVID lockdowns worldwide. IGFF staff adapted to this challenge during the entire year. Limited time in the office was focused on training the expanded Casework Team during February, followed by ongoing restrictions made necessary by the life impacting dangers of the Delta variant in 2021.

For abuse Survivors across Australia, anxiety and uncertainty were already established themes emerging from early life experiences of injustice, injury and isolation from foundational community safety and supports. Now, the worldwide community is experiencing growing anxiety and uncertainties in the face of much physical danger. Just as vulnerability to childhood abuse does not discriminate across cultures, the pandemic is a global phenomenon where no one is immune.

As a frontline service, IGFF’s Casework Team provide support for clients often describing long-term vulnerabilities and mental health struggles; significant obstacles to social, educational and employment opportunities; and in many cases, separation from essential family understandings; community stigmatisation and systemic challenges to access therapeutic care and justice.

To remedy these compounding factors, IGFF Caseworkers connect meaningfully with clients’ own goals – such as strengthening and sustaining resilience throughout long wait periods for redress outcomes; improving access to local networks for therapeutic and practical welfare; and targeting resources for informed choice when engaging with police and mandatory reporting, legislative changes, litigation processes and redress applications.

IGFF help to achieve shared goals is built upon shared hopes – that improved health and wellbeing is achievable for all. Meaningful connection is a growing force around the world, born out of shared understandings of community responsibility. We are proud to be part of the global movement for human rights being realised through actions that protect and care for the most vulnerable. Our incredible Casework staff are determined and committed to strengthening the likelihood of positive outcomes for Survivors while ensuring they feel valued, believed, and understood.

Rachel Last
Executive Manager Survivor Services

Growth in Service Provision
Number of Casework sessions (<200 – 1400+) provided to national clients from January 1 2018 to June 30 2021.

Client Age Groups

At June 30 2021, the proportion of client ages mapped over 5 year increments.

Governance and Grants

IGFF worked closely with the Commonwealth Department of Social Services throughout the year, ensuring that the experiences and interests of Survivors remain front of mind in the setting of policy, and securing significant grant funding for 2020-21. This funding underpinned the continuing expansion of the support we provide for Survivors.

This work, and similar work with the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing, has also laid the groundwork for continuing funding into future financial years. This ongoing commitment will ensure that we can maintain the support that existing Survivor clients need, and provide support for other Survivors that come forward seeking our help.

2020-21 also saw IGFF undertaking significant work on updating and modernising our policies, practices and systems, including preparation for implementing a Client Record Management software. This system will strengthen the protection of sensitive personal information relating to our Survivor clients, and provide for efficient case management and accurate reporting of the work IGFF does to support Survivors.

IGFF has also embarked on a major review of our Constitution, looking to modernise the document. The major focus of the proposed change is to have the Constitution more accurately reflect that, over the seven years since our current Constitution was finalised, our focus has evolved from specialising in supporting Survivors of abuse in religious institutions to supporting Survivors from a wide diversity of  institutional backgrounds across society.

Phil Lindenmayer
Head of Governance and Company Secretary

De La Salle College Memorial Commemoration ‘Loud Fence’ acknowledging Survivors , March 21 2021.

Government Engagement and Media

In the last 12 months IGFF has continued to go from strength-to-strength and nowhere has this been more apparent than in our media and government engagement.

IGFF has been tirelessly working with governments of all jurisdictions to provide testimony, expert advice, and advocate systemic change to better improve the experiences and outcomes of Survivors.

  • In November 2020 and March 2021, IGFF provided testimony to the Federal Parliament’s Joint Select Standing Committee on the Implementation of the National Redress Scheme. IGFF spoke to the operation of the Scheme and highlighted a series of Survivor Case Studies to inform the Committee on how aspects of the Scheme could be improved and expanded. Transcripts of these testimonies can be found through the Australian Parliament Hansard.
  • IGFF, via invitation, have participated in a series of Federal Ministerial Roundtables, hosted by the federal Department of Social Services, attended by Minister Anne Ruston and senior public servants at executive level, responsible for the National Redress Scheme. IGFF contributed and relayed the experiences of the Survivor community, providing vital feedback to improve Survivor outcomes for those accessing the Scheme.
  • Also, via invitation from the Department of Social Services, IGFF was selected to provide key technical feedback and input into the National Redress Scheme Two Year Review, conducted by Robyn Kruk AO. Senior IGFF officials met with Ms Kruk to relay our feedback directly and a formal submission spanning many technical aspects of the scheme and casefile examples was provided to the review. Many of the issues raised by IGFF have subsequently been put forward as official recommendations by the Review for legislation.
  • IGFF has supplied two submissions to the Victorian Legislative Council’s Justice and Social Issues Committee. The first seeking to amend the current Victoria judicial practice of allowing a self-representing accused abuser to cross-examine their Victim-Survivor during court proceedings. The second was to highlight the need to review the current barriers to redress options for Victorians incarcerated for a period of greater than 12 months. IGFF has been invited to provide in-person testimony and public testimony to the Committee, following the lifting of COVID lockdown restrictions in Victoria.
  • IGFF has been working closely with the Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing to identify service gaps for Survivors living in Victoria and to extend the primary counselling services currently in practice to include casework and a wraparound care model.
  • In March 2021, IGFF submitted evidence and feedback to Victorian Law Reform Commission’s Consultation: Improving the Response of the Justice System to Sexual Offences. The consultation sought key Survivor-centered feedback regarding pre-existing legal practices and Survivor experiences/outcomes while traversing the Victorian legal system.

Despite the extensive complexities of communication and publications while COVID is the media’s primary focus, IGFF has continued to invest significant efforts into engaging with the media to amplify the voices of survivors and to increase public awareness around institutional abuse. In the previous 12 months, IGFF has been featured in print, radio, and television. Notably being interviewed by the ABC in relation to the huge increase in service demand for Survivor services, which was subsequently aired nationwide, across all ABC news platforms, metropolitan and regional.

The New Daily published a full editorial authored by IGFF to highlight the need to expand society’s understanding of what sort of organisations can be susceptible to institutional abuse and that sexual abuse can thrive in environments beyond what we consider “traditional institutions”.

Publications of note include The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, ABC Radio, Digital and Television, The Canberra Times, and The Illinois Law Review.


Joe Stroud
Chief Operating Officer
Head of Government Relations

Financial Report and Statistics

IGFF Revenue

The financial year saw a big leap of growth in activities and revenue along with the unprecedented challenge of COVID.

The revenue grew by a massive 88% which enabled IGFF to significantly increase resources and capability. IGFF staff numbers went from six to 14 resulting in a significant increase in providing services. Employee wages and benefit expense constitute 85% of the total IGFF expense thereby ploughing back the bulk of the revenue into providing the services.

The Board, senior leadership team and staff at IGFF remain unswervingly committed to working hard, creatively and innovatively to continue to raise revenue/funds into the future to maintain and grow IGFF’s work.

Srini Vasan
Chief Financial Officer

Community Development

Helping to educate the community about the journeys of Survivors is a core component of IGFF. We know that through education we can help breakdown some of the barriers and address the stigmatisation that many Survivors face when they first begin to disclose their experiences.
  • The De La Salle College Survivors’ Memorial Project was the culmination of more than 18 months of work and collaboration between Survivors, IGFF and the College, to establish  a Survivor-driven memorial to recognise the impact of the historical abuse that took place at the school.The Memorial was officially opened on 21 March 2021 with hundreds in attendance, including representatives from local, state, and federal governments.
  • This year IGFF formally entered a Charter of Cooperation with Xavier College. The nature of the Charter is not commercial and represents a shared commitment to improve the outcomes of Survivors and to assist the community. The Charter is designed to help IGFF provide trauma informed community outreach to the Xaverian network of alumni, staff, and current students in the shared pursuit of de-stigmatisation and improved Survivor outcomes.Underpinning this agreement is that there should be no wrong door approach for a Survivor or their family member to seek help.
  • After a nearly two-year COVID enforced hiatus, IGFF was delighted to host a Melbourne Victims’ Collective (MVC) meeting in August. Although the meeting took place online, it was wonderful to be back in the company of such a dedicated and experienced group of people to discuss the ever-changing landscape that Survivors, advocates, and supporters face.The MVC was provided with an update on the operations of National Redress Scheme, by National Redress Scheme Parliamentary Joint Select Committee member, Dr Katie Allen MP. The collective also received an update regarding the outcomes of recent civil litigation cases by Arnold Thomas and Becker Lawyers Partner, Kim Price.

Old Xaverian and Survivor Richard Jabara with Xavier principal William Doherty and IGFF CEO Clare Leaney (credit: Penny Stephens, The Age).

The De La Salle College peppercorn tree on the day of the memorial commemoration event.

Members of the IGFF team with speakers from the De La Salle College memorial event.

Support IGFF into the Future

“I have travelled a challenging road on this journey and without your help I would not be surviving as well as I am now.”
– Survivor

In 2022 and well into our future, IGFF will continue to expand our operations recognising not only the complexities and life challenges that clients face, but also the need to ensure that existing structures, programs and services meet these increasing needs. In coming years IGFF will expand upon our vision for Survivor care and support both nationally and internationally through the following:

  • Advocating for Survivors from culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • Systemic and institutional changes
  • Amplify the national voices of Survivors
  • Continued efforts towards a National Centre for Excellence
  • Legislative and judicial change to help better support Survivors
  • Sustainable, long-term recognition for IGFF
  • Responding to complex client needs
  • An international response to institutional abuse and redress

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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 give us a call on 1300 12 IGFF (4433) or email igff@igff.org.au.

Donate now to support the work of the Foundation

All donations of $2 or more to IGFF (ABN 53 165 246 926) are tax deductible in Australia.

Every donation to IGFF is used to help Survivors, families and communities recover from institutional child abuse. Your support will assist case management and advocacy for individuals, the Melbourne Victims’ Collective, community education and feedback to government.

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 and present.

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