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September 2021 Newsletter


Welcome to IGFF’s Monthly Newsletter

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The past month has, as always, been busy for the In Good Faith Foundation team and wider community. We have continued to provide crucial support and advocacy services remotely, while working to have Survivors’ experiences heard on a wider, systemic level.

This newsletter outlines just a few recent activities, resources, and introduces a critical member of our team. For more information and regular updates you can check out our of our recent activities. For more information and regular updates you can check out our websiteFacebook page, LinkedIn or Youtube.

You can also get in touch by giving us a call on 1300 12 IGFF (4433) or by sending an email to igff@igff.org.au.

Reflections on the De La Salle Memorial Dedication and Commemoration Event

In this video, IGFF caseworker Ingrid presents a reflection on the De La Salle memorial commemoration event for the recent Melbourne Victims’ Collective meeting.

The art that is featured in this year’s Mental Health Month campaign was contributed by Tylah Lomas, proud Kamilaroi woman. The goanna is the totem of her tribe.


Mental Health Month Resources

It goes without saying that we are living through incredibly stressful and difficult times. October 2021 is Mental Health Month, and this year’s theme is Tune In. From their website, tuning in means being present:


It means being aware of what is happening within you, and in the world around you.

Being present by tuning in has been shown to help build self-awareness, help make effective choices, reduce the impact of worry, and build positive connections.


More tips for tuning in can be found on their website


For many people, however, coping and support mechanisms that once provided relief are no longer working the way they once did. Below, we share a couple of resources that might be able to help if you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, recommended by Caseworkers Vanessa and Ingrid. As these resources are primarily for people based in Victoria, we recommend getting in touch with us if you would like us to provide suggestions for support, groups or other resources in your state.

We would like to emphasise that if you need it, our team are here and can talk to our clients and community – no issue is too small.

You can give us a call on 1300 12 IGFF (4433) on weekdays. Outside of office hours we have a list of recommended support lines on our website.


Anxiety Disorders Association of Victoria (ADAVIC) support groups

ADAVIC are based in Melbourne, and provide grassroots support, information and resources for anxiety, stress and worry, panic disorder, social phobia, agoraphobia, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, hoarding and post-traumatic stress disorder.

They are currently running online support groups for anxiety and depression. These meetings are $3 per person, with a limit of 11 people for each group.

The sessions run on Monday and Wednesday evenings at 7pm (except on public holidays) and you can book on their Eventbrite.


Anxiety Recovery Centre (ARCVic)

ARCVic provide support, recovery and educational services to people and families living with anxiety disorders. Some of their services include:

A helpline for people with obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety. They provide support, information and referral to people, family members and carers of people with anxiety, Monday to Friday, 10am-8:30pm, on 1300 269 438 or 03 9830 0533.

Zoom online support groups, which are peer-led, with a mutual self-help focus and run by volunteers in a confidential way.

ARC Cares4Me, a program that responds to the COVID-19 pandemic by matching volunteers to people feeling anxious or overwhelmed a lot of the time.

Staff Profile: Shyamala, Senior Administrative Officer

Shyamala came on board at the beginning of this year, and we have no idea what we would do without her.

At the heart of making sure that IGFF functions, Shyamala draws on a wealth of experience working in governance and not-for-profits. We wanted to find out a little more about what has driven and sustained her work in this sector – and introduce her to our mailing list!


Can you tell us a little about what your role involves at IGFF?
In the simplest form, my work is ensuring that the management and staff of IGFF have what they need to perform their role. This includes ensuring that everyone has the equipment they need, access to relevant information, access to all the communication tools and applications we use and quick and efficient IT support.

I work closely with the Management team to ensure that all the administration needs are attended to. In addition I support the CEO and Secretary with Board and Executive Meetings.

The IGFF team are self-sufficient which makes my work easy and allows me to make improvements to current systems and processes so the day-to-day running of the organisation is smooth.

 

Having worked in leadership across such a range of sectors, what led you to move from Big Four accounting firms to yoga and not-for-profits?
I have always enjoyed the work I have done. Working as a Management Consultant gave me the knowledge and expertise I need to problem solve. I believe that apart from the ability to work collaboratively, the ability to problem solve is the greatest skill you can have and allows you to work in any industry. Armed with this I could follow my passion. The not-for-profit is the most challenging and rewarding sectors to work for. There are many ways to solve a problem but the not-for-profit sector gives you the time and space to listen and look for the best possible solution. It allows you to work with integrity to find a resolution that is not linked to the bottom line alone.

 

What drives your work at IGFF?
I worked with IGFF before I was employed by them. I got to know the type of work the organisation did and some of the team members. We worked together for almost a year I believed in the work IGFF did and its mission. When an opportunity opened up in late 2020, I felt it was the right next step for me.

 

You’ve shared so many crucial resources and reminders with our team about the importance of looking after ourselves while working in this space. Do you have any particular strategies for self-care, or ways you support yourself while working that you’d like to share?
I have grown up with the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness. To me there are different words that say the same thing. It is about being grounded and present in everything you do. Not as easy as it sounds, we all have our good days and challenging days regular practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness will give you the reminders and signals you need to breathe, slow down and react in a calm considered way.

I have a daily yoga and meditation practice which I follow with a bit of journaling. I do this seven days a week and it has made a difference to how I react to things – good or bad.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share? OR What do you like to do in your free time, to unwind? 
I am a Sanskrit Scholar in my second year of studies. I am also writing my memoir. These pretty much take up my time outside of work hours. In addition as I am currently living in Victoria and we have been in lockdown for a significant part of 2020 and 2021, I have got to know my local area and involved in several community projects to protect the local vegetation, plants and birds. I live near a reserve which is home to a vast array of indigenous plants and animals.

Public Consultation: The Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Complex PTSD

Phoenix Australia, the Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health publish national guidelines for responding to the needs and preferences of people impacted by trauma – focusing on psychological treatment.

They are currently in the process of updating their 2020 Guidelines, and have the changes open to public consultation – including general comments about the Guidelines. This document is a key resource in assisting professionals respond to people who have experienced trauma, including Survivors as a specific category.

Please note that they may publish your response, so it is worth contacting them to find out more. Submissions close very soon, on Wednesday 13 October 2021.

Access the Guidelines, changes, and download the Word document submission form here

Victorian Law Reform Commission: Improving the Response of the Justice System to Sexual Offences

At the end of last year, IGFF, among other organisations and individuals, shared our thoughts on what systemic change is required to better support Survivors within the justice system in Victoria. The Review has a broad overview, and has looked into barriers, difficulties and ways in which the system can be reformed.

The Commission will be publishing its final report soon before the end of the year, once it is tabled in Parliament. We will be following its progress closely, but we also want to flag that it may be a time to read the news with care, as the Review will likely contain confronting and distressing testimony.

In Recent News…


Former elite swimmers accuse their coach of abusing them as boys, ABC News

The tragic accounts of abuse reported by ABC’s 7.30 last week are a sobering reminder that the horrific actions of the past, still cause immeasurable damage and suffering in the present.

As we shared in our response, in telling their stories, these incredibly brave Survivors have shone a further light on the scourge of institutional sexual abuse and empower those affected in the community to come forward and seek justice.Institutional abuse has, and will continue to thrive, wherever there is an inequity between power and consent.

It’s important that we all recognise that no matter the strides we have made as a society in putting an end to institutional abuse- our work is far from done.

In the words of Survivor Shane Lewis himself:


It’s not just swimming, not just sport… Abuse doesn’t discriminate between demographics. There are too many people out there who have and are still suffering.


Cult survivors fall through the cracks in child abuse redress scheme, The Sydney Morning Herald

Survivors who were abused within Kenja Communications are speaking out about their experiences, as the organisation has continued to refuse to join the National Redress Scheme.

While 459 organisations have signed up to the Scheme, 443 applications have not been processed because the institution no longer exists or is unwilling or unable to join. As the article reports, the second anniversary review of the Scheme recommended making the government the funder of last resort in cases where the institution is defunct or cannot join for financial reasons.

For Kenja Communications Survivors, and Survivors of other cults that may not be eligible for redress through the Scheme, this will not help. As one Survivor who has made a claim that cannot be processed has said:


The whole point of the scheme is to be believed. If Kenja says it didn’t happen, does that mean it didn’t happen?


Recovery and change: Psychology’s role in treating and preventing child sexual abuse, InPsych

The recent edition of InPsych, the Australian Psychological Society’s magazine, focuses on how psychologists can support Survivors and prevent child sexual abuse. Aiming to destigmatise Survivors’ experiences and assist professionals better respond to the people they work with, their overview states:

The reality of CSA [child sexual abuse] is a far cry from the picture garnered from media. The entire topic resembles an iceberg with only the top 10 per cent visible and the remaining 90 per cent hidden below the surface. The majority of CSA goes unreported to the criminal justice system, child protection agencies or anyone at all.


Image: ABC News Emma Machan


Meet the Australians stuck waiting for mental healthcare as the pandemic takes its toll, ABC News

This article outlines the incredibly long waitlists, expense and other issues accessing mental health services for people across Australia. It includes the experiences of some Survivors having to wait four to six months to access psychological support.

Everyday Courage: Rural Communities

Over the past few weeks, we have been putting the spotlight on the particular everyday courage of Survivors in rural, regional and remote areas on our Facebook.



Accessing the National Redress Scheme

Regional and remote areas in Australia are generally considered to be a “service gap” for the National Redress Scheme. As a key way Survivors can seek acknowledgment of their experiences, redress, counselling and apologies from responsible institutions, not being able to access the Scheme – or access support when applying – can have a huge impact.

These issues with access can have particularly devestating consequences for Indigenous Survivors in these areas, as it may mean there are no culturally appropriate or sensitive services available. The Second Anniversary Review of the Scheme found that Aboriginal Survivors in particular do not have equal access to the Scheme, and are more likely to have their payments reduced than non-Indigenous applicants.

As Kimberley Stolen Generation Chief Executive Tania Bin Bakar is quoted in the ABC article below, there are concerns about the impact this is having on Aboriginal communities: “They keep saying, ‘Why aren’t more Indigenous people making applications?’ The reason is that we’re not supported to allow them to do that.”

You can read more about the issue in this recent ABC news article.



Seeing Abusers and Enablers

For some Survivors, living in a rural community can mean seeing the people who enabled or perpetrated abuse, and their family, friends or supporters. In particular, this can impact people living in the same communities they grew up or were abused in, making for a uniquely hard environment in which to report and seek acknowledgment, justice and redress.

Over a decade ago, the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault surveyed sexual assault Survivors and service providers – primarily women – who lived in rural communities. One respondent wrote: “The communities are very close. Everyone knows someone who knows you. Victimisation is alive and well from the time the report is made, as it is almost impossible to be anonymous. It is almost impossible not to see the perpetrator out and about on a very regular basis, or their family and friends.”

While some progress has been made, and this is not everybody’s experience, it still rings true for many people living in small, tight-knit communities. It takes particular bravery and resilience to be able to live your daily life in these circumstances, let alone access services and report to the authorities.


Phoenix Australia have also recently launched SOLAR, a free program promoting wellbeing and recovery for regional and rural Victorians emotionally impacted by bushfires, drought or COVID-19. The program provides access to five one-on-one sessions with a coach trained in their program. To find out more, you can visit the Phoenix Australia website.

Paid Opportunity for Bloggers with Disability

People with Disability Australia are calling for people with disability and/or members of the Deaf community to write blog posts about any of the issues raised by the Disability Royal Commission – or any topics you believe it should be investigating.

As most of our clients, and many members of our wider community, are people with disability, we believe this would be a great opportunity for Survivors to share their thoughts on what they feel the ongoing Disability Royal Commission should include.

Blogs can be written (500-700 words) or delivered in an audio or video format (3-4 minutes). If published, you will be paid $200. To send a pitch, you can email comms@pwd.org.au:

  • A bit about you
  • A summary of what you will say
  • How your blog will be presented (written, audio, video, images)
  • Links to, or samples of, previous written or creative work.

Find out more on their website

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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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