FOR THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN
Next Meeting: Monday, August 27, 1.00 – 3.00 p.m.,
Golden Wattle House,
Joffre Street, Healesville.
Our first sight of the Archbishop was as a smiling face came through the door to collect the six of us who were in the waiting room. Not that he realized it, but at that moment we were having a vigorous discussion about defrocking and the removing of titles, on the safety of the community if these people were pushed out into the community where their crimes probably would not be known. Is it reasonable that their religious community take responsibility for supervision while retaining them in their order? (Last week RC Commissioner Robert Fitzgerald at MVC said this was being worked through with some Orders in NSW with the help of a retired Police Commissioner.)
Refusing to sit in the chair at the head of the table and speaking without pretension throughout the meeting, he began by saying "I suppose the first thing is to say who I am." He said he was from the Broken Bay diocese, that he knew little of Melbourne having spent just a few days here, not even holidays, and that he wanted to learn. As he began to ask us who we were, the first question asked by Helen was "Why did he think he was chosen as Archbishop?" Pausing a moment, he said he believed it was because he was an outsider and had pastoral experience.
Mairead then wanted to check how he felt about some just prior one on one discussions with victims. In her diplomatic but direct way, she asked was this meeting an attempt to start something real or was it just lip service? He responded after a moment's thought by saying he wanted this to be the beginning of a real attempt to do what is needed. He went on to say that there were many aspects and this was a big diocese, with many people and many organizational aspects, all of which meant big responsibilities.
Mairead, Helen & Jim described a small part of their personal journeys that had spanned many years with a significant toll on their respective health's. They described how they had met with vilification, denial, ostracism and a decided lack of empathy from all levels of church management, priests and even laity in parishes. Helen particularly, as she tried over her many years via IGFA & then MVC, via many approaches and dealings with church management to have the abused, their families and whistleblowers' situations first recognized and then that they be treated with humanity, justice and compassion. Peter listened in a somewhat stunned silence to the gravity of these stories. Helen related how her group had done much to have successful input into the Victorian Inquiry and then the Royal Commission.
Bob talked of how FTI grew from the story of Chrissie Foster's family. How we began from a group of ex-seminarians, ex and current priests and grew to include the abused in our ranks. We saw the healing change that took place for those whose stories we listened to. That we had conducted forums in Leongatha, Mt Eliza, Essendon, Ringwood, Blackburn, Healesville, that both supported and educated those in the parishes including priests. That the implementation of public pastoral approach requires education at all levels. That bishops and priests need education on how to deal with the strong emotions that the abused can express. And while education is required, a team approach - a combination of bishop/priest and lay people - to speaking with the abused is essential; it should not be a solo priest's responsibility. That we had sent our newly revised Healing Strategy Document to all Australian Bishops. We also wish that memorial gardens be set up. When Bob mentioned the seminary, Peter did not know about its history and campuses of Werribee, Glen Waverley, Clayton and Carlton. Bob said that support and healing is needed for all; bishops, priests who are doing it tough right now, victims, their families, whistleblowers, and those in the pews. Like all round the table, submissions had been made to the Victorian Inquiry, The Royal Commission and the Melbourne Ryan Report.
Like Helen before him, Kevin spoke of the dysfunctional approach of the church and related his experience of trying to get action in the archdiocese to support the abused through writing to Peter O'Callaghan four times before getting a response that then referred him to the Archbishop. The response after another 7 weeks was "Parishes who have not offended should not be expected to contribute." Kevin then wrote to the 220+ parish priests of the archdiocese asking for something like $25 per week, per parish and got a response from only 25. Peter, while understanding what priests may feel about their leaders, expressed dismay that Kevin's brother priests gave such a poor response. Lifeboat Geelong, which Kevin is now trying to expand into the Melbourne area, tries to take a wholistic approach for individuals, families and groups with psychological support, employment and educational opportunities, medical, pastoral, faith and spiritual support as well as financial support. Kevin said he had been rung by four victims new to him in just the past week.
All round the table highlighted that the Melbourne Ryan Report on compensation had not been released and David related that a lot of work had been put into it with many recommendations. He was also able to bring to the table his more intimate knowledge gained from being a panel member of the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry.
At this point Peter summarized the points he had heard, including dysfunctionality, the reaching out taking place at many levels by those present, the need to educate clergy and laity alike on how to approach the abused and how to be present to them. Peter expressed surprise that he had not heard much, if at all, of the phrase "Safeguarding of children." Bob said the phrase used in the archdiocese was a "Childsafe Environment", that much work had been done in schools and was now rolling out into many parishes. Bob also expressed the concern that the CPSL approach seemed to be mainly confined to "Protection of Children", all very necessary, but what about the need for compassion and empathy. The CPSL document only has the verb "care" in two places in the 30 pages of it's draft standards. Surely the exercise of compassion and empathy is a major requirement.
Helen asked Peter to build on his theological knowledge that incorporates Christ in his work both pastorally and spiritually. She said it was sad that school children were the ones that took action recently to have on offending priest removed from his parish.
Further discussion took place about the poor way the Melbourne Response and Carelink handled matters. How people in church management who had hidden abuse in the past were now in positions of responsibility, and have used legal means to call victims and support people "liars." That the files, which are after all the property of the abused - not owned by the archdiocese, need respect. That lack of responses and very long time frames are encountered which only adds to the victim's trauma as they wait and wait in anxiety and depression. The consequence of such feelings was the need to have a bucket beside them as they made phone calls. Of the significant trauma that whistleblowers experience and the consequent lack of a financial and satisfying future, including reasonable superannuation.
Jim said there needs to be a lot of public communication by bishops about what they are actually doing. The prolonged silence suggests they don't get it. Skilled support of victims and their families is needed. He felt the C'wealth Redress Scheme was useless. Bob suggested that the upcoming C'wealth Apology be boycotted as the restriction that those with a criminal conviction were excluded meant the apology was a sham. Kevin said there needs to be a recognition of the situation of the victim - it has created a whole of life situation, that requires a whole of life response.
David, in highlighting the approach that the Victorian State Parliament took, stated that from his point of view he could see nothing proactive so far from the bishops of Australia to address the issue. Bob - what has happened to the report of the TJHC?
Bob - it was disappointing that five archbishops at the RC had three opinions about the Seal of Confession. "They are shooting themselves in the foot. What is needed is a public and transparent protocol about how this issue will be handled." Bob also reported that when asked Commissioner Peter Fitzgerald had said that the Catholic Bishops had not sat down with the Royal Commissioners though other denominations had. Peter said that the ACB meeting to take place after his installation was expected to make the bishops' response to the Royal Commission. It was also expected that a statement would be made on the Seal of Confession.
With much still to be talked about, Peter concluded stating that from his position the meeting was the start of a very necessary dialogue. He asked for our prayers as he endeavoured to handle the big job before him.
Bob had brought along five submissions from individuals and those in parishes on what points would they like to be made to the Archbishop? While not having time to discuss these, they were handed to him.
Addendum: One of the papers that Bob handed to Peter is attached herewith for the information of members.
To Archbishop Peter A Comensoli
from one who has learned a little of the abuse crisis through the LOOKOUT group in Healesville. lookout4children.com
We welcome this meeting. We are encouraged by your giving priority to the issue of healing and reconciliation. However there can be no quick-fix.
Healing and reconciliation are underway in Healesville as the parish team and the Lookout group work together year by year. There are five or six primary or secondary victims active participants, while others keep their suffering private. Many families, and the fabric of the parish community itself, are as tertiary victims. A well-attended Mass for Healing and Hope last year was a cathartic healing experience for many, and we continue to build on that with a community event each year.
The place where healing occurs is in the hearts of victims, in their homes and in their local communities. I think the cathedral could help most by recognising what is being done locally and offering encouragement. If people here knew that the archbishop and cathedral staff were conscious of our needs and struggles, this would boost the community's confidence that life can come back. The appropriate person for this liaison would be the regional bishop. If he is not a good listener or one not able to genuinely feel compassion or not willing to spend time with people here, someone who has these qualities must be delegated as his representative. A liturgical experience is not a priority.
A visit by the archbishop would be a major encouragement, but this would need to be well prepared. Each one hurt by personal abuse either as primary or secondary victim has personal damage which can be recognised only in face to face meetings. The secondary victims we know have all been accused, blamed, vilified and rejected in their communities when they tried to bring the issue to the attention of authorities. Reinstatement as a cure-all is not an option. It's too late for that. But for each one to be heard by the archbishop face to face, for their bona fides to be recognised, and for the wrong done to them to be acknowledged would make an apology both meaningful and salutary. Nothing less is worth considering.
Get together with victims in parish centre
St Brigid's parish in Healesville is arranging a lunch-time get-together for parishioners to meet with victims of child sexual abuse.
The get-together will be held in the parish hall on Thursday, August 9, from 12.00 till 2.00 pm. A light luncheon will be provided.
FOR THE SAFETY OF CHILDREN
There will be no meeting on Monday, October 23
Mass of Healing and Hope
St Brigid's Church, Healesville
Wednesday, October 25, at 7.00 PM
Parish Gathering - a Milestone in the Journey of Hope
Last week four of us worked with the parish team in planning the liturgy of the Mass of Healing and Hope. Our contribution was warmly welcomed. A spirit of hope animated the two-hour session.
To set the mood and focus of the celebration, the liturgy will begin with a chant of lament, progressing through the five stages of grief which are:
bargaining or rationalising
depression or despair
acceptance and commitment to living.
The suffering of victims and of the whole community will be portrayed in a man carrying a large cross through the assembly.
Readings are being selected for their relevance and brevity. In the meeting it was acknowledged that in this circumstance the use of many words would be counter-productive. There will be an atmosphere of quiet reflection supported by soft music or chant.
The string of ribbons that hangs between two trees in the grounds will be brought into the church, in conjunction with the lighting of symbolic candles.
To replace the ribbons a bronze plaque will be laid at the historic oak tree as a permanent acknowledgement of the suffering of victims of sexual abuse in the parish. The wording on the plaque will read:
“In recognition of those who have suffered through betrayal of trust...”
In inviting those who have been sexually abused by priests in the parish to this celebration of healing, the parish is declaring an end to denial and rejection.
Others affected - families of victims, teachers and parish staff who tried to warn of the danger, and the people who support victims are also invited to join the parish community in working to heal the hurt. The community of the parish reaches out to every person who has suffered abuse as a child in any situation.
'We've been wanting to do this for a long time,' Debbie Edwards, pastoral associate in the parish, said at the meeting. 'At last we have the opportunity to make it happen.'
The opportunity arose after LOOKOUT approached the parish with a proposal to hold an information forum. A liturgy of healing is deemed to be more appropriate at this time.
Thursday's meeting recognised that people may not be able to come at short notice, but it is hoped there will be other similar events in the future with an accent on healing the hurt in the parish and in the whole town.
The wide spread of the scourge of child abuse has been revealed by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
The final report of the Royal Commission to be released in December is expected to contain recommendations that will affect every level of society. The safety of children will only be secured through adequate protocols and constant vigilance.
Those attending the mass on October 25 will hear of changes in the culture of parish and school. At the meeting, parish secretary Paula Pearce spoke of current practices and protocols that go to developing a culture of alertness .
A speaker from our group will outline the concerns of LOOKOUT, especially the on-going needs of victims whose lives have been damaged or even ruined by abuse. Child abuse, including sexual abuse, is not confined to historic instances in churches and other institutions but occurs all too frequently in families.
We hope to hold a public meeting next year to raise awareness of the issue in the town. The ramifications of the report of the Royal Commission is likely to be a topic of interest to many institutions in Healesville.
We hope members will make an effort to attend this mass on Wednesday, October 25, at 7.00 pm. There might be an opportunity to tell a friend or neighbour about the mass, offering to accompany them if appropriate. Healing will only happen in the community through reaching out to one another with acceptance and trust.
In the last analysis it is all for the children of the present and the future, to ensure for them a safe and happy childhood.
The meeting of February 28 had a small attendance of eight, with some apologies. Members reported on their activities over the summer, one having visited England (Richard) and another the Antarctic (Bob).
Some reflected on the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which concluded its investigations into the Catholic Church through three weeks of February closing with five archbishops appearing before it together. The general feeling is that, while there are many words about new policies and attitudes, practical moves are not in evidence, particularly in real support for victims.
Bishop Vincent Long's contribution in the hearings of the Royal Commission received wide acclaim for their honesty and clarity. http://catholicleader.com.au/news/bishop-vincent-long-tells-royal-commission-he-was-abused
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A review looked at what the group achieves, under four headings:
For the members: mutual support and education.
For victims of abuse: support, also support for those more closely involved; acknowledgement.
For the parish community: recognition of the damage; constant alert.
For the town community: acknowledged by helping agencies; awareness through media.
Richard distributed copies of a paper he has prepared on the question: What should we be doing? The text may be found on our website at http://lookout4children.com/What-should-we-be-doing.php At our next meeting Richard will offer some questions for discussion, so if possible read this paper and come prepared with ideas.
For the May meeting we hope to have a speaker from ChildWise.
It has been suggested that we might change the day of our meeting either to the Wednesday or to the Monday, since on Tuesdays there is a clash with other meetings for some. This is being investigated. Please let us know your preferred day.
Francis Sullivan visits Healesville
Members of LOOKOUT were heartened by the frank and open way that Francis Sullivan spoke of the situation in the church in its response to clergy sex abuse. Mr Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council set up by the Catholic Bishops to coordinate the church's response to the work of the Royal Commission, visited Healesville on November 2 to meet with Ian Lawther and the Lookout Group. He was accompanied by Michael Salmon, Communications Officer for the TJHC.
He spoke of the difficulties the bishops have in meeting with victims. The fear of not knowing what to say or how to respond to the needs of people who have been hurt and damaged by priests is holding bishops back from offering an open door for them. Hence the massive wound continues to bleed.
Explaining the name TJHC, he recalled that his first thought was of Truth and Justice, but it quickly became evident that Healing must be included. For healing, the first need is to be able to talk about the experience of abuse. Enabling people to talk is the first step.
“Depression comes from lack of expression,” he said. Institutions use inertia as a management tool, time as a weapon. If you stall long enough the problems go away.
With its medieval structures, the church still lacks suitable procedures for dealing with clergy sex abuse. Not enough good information gets through to the top.
Across the country there are many groups concerned, as we are, about abuse, its causes and safeguards, Mr Sullivan said. The long-term effect is also spiritual, a loss of trust in God. It rebounds in damage to the family, and even a life-long inability to function as part of a family. .
Merely wanting the church to be different achieves nothing. “Be the church you want to be,” he said.
He had no information about the Ryan report which the Archbishop had promised to release 12 months ago.
What form the National Redress Scheme will take is still being worked out, with difficult negotiations underway between the Commonwealth, the States, the churches and the various other bodies. Each entity will be responsible to pay the compensation in its own cases, the whole process being managed centrally. Where an entity no longer exists, it is expected the Commonwealth will provide.
Wide ranging questions were discussed, including the work of the Vatican's Commission for the Protection of Minors. After a confused beginning, its focus now is on advising in policy matters. It does not handle cases of abuse or complaints.
Childsafe policies in schools and in-service training for staff is a major concern. Members reported on known cases (not locally) where there are neither protocols nor in-service programs in place, and one where programs were terminated by a new administration. This raised questions about the power of the parish priest in Victoria regarding the parish school, and the anomaly that this represents of the one in charge being neither qualified nor adequately audited. These matter are likely to be dealt with in the final sessions of the Royal Commission in the coming year.
Mr Sullivan told the meeting that the church in Australia has recently set up a Professional Standards Company as an independent body to maintain standards and oversee compliance.
LOOKOUT has benefitted from this visit, and will continue to work with the church community for the safety of our children.
MEDIA RELEASE on the TJHC website:
TJHC meets with community groups and others across Victoria
Healesville CSA support group – regional Victoria, 2 November 2016
Mr Sullivan said it was very important to visit Healesville in north eastern regional Victoria this week, which has had a miserable history of clerical sex abuse and where two parish priests were perpetrators of the sexual abuse of children in their care.“
"Parishioners rightly feel that the church clearly did not do enough and unfortunately during those times and later the church’s responsiveness to their concerns was sadly lacking,” he said.
"What this tells all of us is that our church and those with responsibilities in the areas of professional standards need to treat people voicing concerns respectfully and expeditiously.“
People who are hurting and carry the suffering of the scandal need to be understood and attentively cared for. We can’t let the organisational inertia that can characterises some responses by church officials shape the character of the church’s pastoral response in this area.”
Some major developments:
Catholic Church doubles sex abuse compensation but suppresses independent report
New laws will make it easier for child abuse victims to sue for damages
"Crimes of the Father": Tom Keneally tackles abuse in the catholic church
Next Meeting: February 28, 2017
Next Meeting Tuesday, August 23 at the EACH facility at Comely Bank, 48 Myers Creek Rd, Healesville 1.00 - 3.00 p.m.
At our last meeting Leading Senior Constable Linda Hancock, Yarra Ranges Crime Prevention Officer, shared some of her experience in community policing in the Yarra Valley, and provided us with useful information about how to help victims of abuse.
Our program of self-education and discussion will start this month. What we have heard from our many guest speakers provides material for discussion in future meetings. We could use a rough outline like the following as a guide. Come to the meeting prepared to talk about these topics, expand on them and improve the chart:
Responding to a victim of child abuse
Accepting the person, listening with empathy
Referring the person to professional support services
Reporting to the police
Accompany the person
Understanding the effects of abuse
Through first-hand accounts
Through appropriate studies
Through the experience of others
Through personal reflection
Providing safety for children
Healing remedies in the community
Exposure - sweeping away the secrecy; owning the problem; talking about it.
Supporting those who support the victims
Public activities: meetings; information; fund-raising
Canvassing for adequate legislation
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The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published 44 Issues Papers and Submissions Papers. They are a mine of ideas from a wide range of people and groups like LOOKOUT. http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/policy-and-research/consultations/issues-papers-submissions/issues-paper-11 Check out especially Bob Munro's group For The Innocents at No. 19, and Patrick Parkinson's paper at No. 40
Future Speakers: Department of Human Services Box Hill
Group discussion: choosing a topic for October.
Watch for the notice in the Mountain Views Mail community diary. Point it out to friends.
NEWSLETTER # 6 September 2015
Next meeting: Tuesday, October 27 at the EACH facility, Comely Bank
Rosie Petschack of EACH, Ringwood, will speak on
'Impacts of Sexual Abuse in communities –
gambling, drug, alcohol and other addictions'
Comments on Fr Kevin Dillon's visit
These comments (slightly edited) will serve well as a record of Fr Dillon's visit:
Fr Kevin explained how, back in the eighties, he had received a phone call one night from a very distressed victim of family sexual abuse, and how this woman eventually took her own life after years of torment. He spoke about how at that time he had no idea that sexual abuse of children and youth was occurring not only in families but also in the Catholic Church. He was shocked and dismayed by the levels of psychological destruction and even suicide among victims . As he has laboured to raise awareness he has been a fairly lone voice among priests and clergy. Presently he keeps in contact with a hundred victims of child sexual abuse. A great man and a great priest.
The parish was fortunate to have Kevin Dillon give us a talk on Clergy Sexual Abuse. Kevin has identified several major places where he is able to help the victims/sufferers of C.S.A. - housing, cars, fuel, and the many incidentals of life.
The gathering was shocked to learn that, with the Melbourne Response, while some $17m has been spent on compensation claims, a further $17m has been spent on legal fees!
From the start of my journey into the CSA quagmire I have been made to feel as though I was DMW (Dead Man Walking). The parish priest's refused to give me a hearing, and all my efforts to establish a dialogue with him failed because of his determination to keep me out of the public eye. The Parish took a big step forward last night when 40 people showed up to listen to Kevin Dillon tell it how it really is. It was refreshing to listen to a man who practices what he preaches talking about primacy of conscience. I would like to see an Australia where every Australian child is treated as Every Australian's Child. I really feel we have moved a step closer to that goal.
I thought the meeting with Fr Kevin Dillon was profoundly important to the Healesville community. His experiences, his insight, his humour and his genuineness provided hope, strength and optimism for our future. The atmosphere on the night was a great tribute to the energy in the group and the hospitality from the parish, at last.
We wish to thank Fr Kevin Dillon for making the journey from St Mary's Geelong to Healesville after a busy Sunday in his large parish. Fr Dillon put new heart into all who heard him. He described the work of “Lifeboat”, the organisation he has set up to help those abused by Catholic clergy and others in the Geelong region and beyond. This outreach is clearly full of practical compassion for victims, offering financial assistance, home repairs by volunteers, motor repairs for those financially disadvantaged, assistance with accommodation, a listening ear, etc.
“Lifeboat” is a courageous initiative, and unfortunately seems to be unique. One must reflect that had there been enough “Lifeboats” throughout the dioceses of Australia, the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry and the Royal Commission would not have been necessary. We congratulate Fr Kevin Dillon and his many helpers in “Lifeboat”. We must hope that the kindness of Christ will become more pervasive throughout the Catholic Church in our country.
Meetings: 1.00 – 3.00 p.m.
Tuesday, October 27 at the EACH facility, Comely Bank
48 Myers Creek Rd., Healesville
Planning, November 10 at the Community Centre
Watch for the notice in the Community Diary of Mountain Views Mail. Point it out to friends.
NEWSLETTER # 5 August 2015
SPECIAL MEETING: SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 5.00– 7.00 p.m.
St Brigid's Parish Hall Guest Speaker:
Fr Kevin Dillon Parish Priest of St Mary of the Angels, Geelong.
What Fr Dillon has done in Geelong is an example of how every parish could respond to sexual abuse as it has occurred in the church. The failure of the church to properly address the issue has caused deep hurt in many communities. Geelong's LIFEBOAT initiative is a notable attempt to right the wrongs suffered by so many victims/survivors.
Fr Dillon's visit to Healesville is an opportunity for healing in the parish and the town. It is an opportunity for us to come together, to listen, and to share in conversation, looking at possible ways to move forward in reconciliation and forgiveness, in healing and hope.
In time this could turn out to be a Pentecost moment, a new beginning: 'Church' in its truest meaning. This will be an occasion of an outpouring of the Spirit on all who attend.
The meeting is open to everyone in the parish. Members of other church communities will be invited. LOOKOUT members might bring a friend or a concerned person.
Refreshments – soup and sandwiches - will be provided.
Note again the references from last month's newsletter:
Google Lifeboat Geelong for a whole page of references.
See especially: http://www.geelongadvertiser.com.au/news/opinion/daryl-mclure-lifeboat-geelong-sets-out-on-a-vital-rescue-mission/story-fnjuhr1j-1227322739648
A good preparation for this special evening with Fr Kevin would be to read his testimony before the Victorian Inquiry: http://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/fcdc/inquiries/57th/Child_Abuse_Inquiry/Transcripts/Fr_Kevin_Dillon_15-Feb-13.pdf
An article by Barney Zwartz in The Age back in 2013 can be found here: http://www.acountrypriest.com/tag/fr-kevin-dillon/
Report on August meeting
The general review of our thoughts on LOOKOUT at the annual General Meeting last month saw a common appreciation of the worth of the group and a willingness to continue in our purpose.
The question was put to the group: Why am I here?
Some of the responses: One member confessed to having been 'blissfully unaware' of what had happened, but on hearing of the clergy abuse and its cover-up, the isolation of victims, their pain, anger and frustration, it was not possible to be at ease with the thought of the suffering, the horridness of the abuse against children and youths.
Another said: I wanted to make a commitment, to support the needs, to understand the hurt, to be compassionate, to care about the issue and to help towards healing. There is a strength in coming together as a local community group, just ordinary people, lay people taking responsibility (where the hierarchy did not).
A second question: What do I think is the purpose of the group? brought many elements to the fore.
It is for the abused, the victims/survivors – to reach out – to support and encourage – to understand, even suicidal feelings – to be compassionate – to make a stand with affected people. Focusing on ourselves, comments included: to educate ourselves and others – to learn guidelines for helping – to link into other services – to open doors. We are baptised to stand up and act – as a group we can do more than individually – to speak the truth – to protect children – to pray – to trust that God can make things better. “Because it hasn't been done before – doesn't mean it can't be done.”
Clarification of goals workshop: Further discussion was left for the workshop on this coming Saturday with facilitator, Phil Pynor. This workshop is being provided at no cost to us by the generosity of Liberty Family Church and Mr Pynor. Members of the planning committee will attend, and others are welcome. It will take place on: Saturday, September 12, 12 noon – 2.00 p.m. at the church , 1 Old Lilydale Rd, Healesville.
Watch for notice in the Community Diary of Mountain Views Mail. Point it out to friends.
Next meeting: Sunday, September 20, 5.00 - 7.00 p.m. at St Brigid's Parish Hall, High St, Healesville
Our next meeting is on Tuesday, July 28, at EACH at COMELY BANK
Please note this new venue, and tell any friends who may be coming.
Neil Milton is minister at the Liberty Christian Church, Healesville. He will speak at our next meeting on the Child Safety program they have recently set in place in that community.
His talk will range over the whole issue of child safety, including some experience of his own.
Over time we will invite speakers from various communities and organisations in the town to learn from their experience and to build up a picture of what is actually in place in our local community.
As outlined already on our website and in our discussions, we see our purpose as raising awareness in the whole community, since our children will be safe only to the extent our town is alert to the danger paedophilia presents.
The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence now underway will provide further occasions to learn of the damage that can be done to children even in their own homes. http://www.rcfv.com.au/
See also the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria: http://www.dvrcv.org.au/support-services/victorian-services
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Last month Melinda Dows of ECASA gave a most informative presentation of the work of CASA and the process of healing for victims. We have a number of Information Sheets for anyone who missed out. This is a partial list of titles:
1/. What is sexual assault?
2/. Feelings after SA.
3/. How to respond to someone who discloses SA.
4/. Helping the child victim of SA.
5/. Parents and Caregivers.
6/. True or False Quiz
Our resource library is growing steadily with a variety of useful material. Most can be borrowed, or a personal copy can be provided. Much of this material is on the internet.
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Watch for notice in the Community Diary of Mountain Views Mail. Point it out to friends.
Next meeting: July 28 , at EACH at Comely Bank , 48 Myers Creek Rd, Healesville
Planning meeting August 11 at the Shire Community Link
NEWSLETTER # 4 June 2015
Our next meeting is on Tuesday, June 23, at EACH at COMELY BANK
Please note this new venue, and tell any friends who may be coming.
Melinda Dows of ECASA, East Ringwood, will speak on “Sexual Assault and the Healing Process”. She will explain the impact that sexual abuse has on a victim, and the stages of healing for survivors.
This will be an informative presentation. Educating ourselves is important for those who would help victims whom they may know or who may come to them. Also for anyone simply trying to understand the scourge of child abuse that has been uncovered in modern society.
Perhaps when this newsletter arrives members may find an opportunity to talk about the work of ECASA with a friend or neighbour who may be wanting to get a better understanding of sexual abuse. A visit to the ECASA website will be a good start, including a look at the SECASA website (Centre at East Bentleigh and covering the south-east district). We should be familiar with CASA and its work:
The Victorian (Australia) Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASAs) are non-profit, government-funded organisations that provide support and intervention to women, children and men who are victim/survivors of sexual assault. They also work towards the elimination of sexual violence through professional and community education, informing government policy, advocating for law reform and facilitating research to increase community understanding of the nature and incidence of sexual assault.
In LOOKOUT we have much to learn. Let's make the most of this valuable presentation.
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The problem of finding a place to meet has been resolved – twofold. EACH, the group from Ringwood, have given us use of their facility at Comely Bank, gratis. EACH gave us a lot of support last year when Rosie and Tammy helped us see that our project is valid and could take wings.
The meeting hall at Comely Bank is just the right size for us, and the facilities are excellent. The site is entirely rural, but only 2 kms from the East End. If necessary we can nominate someone to contact when transport needs to be arranged.
At the same time Ian approached our local representative on the Shire Council, Fiona MacAlister, and she has secured for us the use of a room at the Healesville Community Link, at no charge. This connection with the Council is important for LOOKOUT, and represents our first step in integrating our activities with the many projects promoted in our Shire. For the present we will hold our monthly planning meetings there.
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In spite of a small attendance, the May meeting turned out to be a rich experience in sharing. Bob Munro provided a recorded talk by Frank Sheehan who started the group Moving Towards Justice in Ballarat. (Another interview here) The response to this was a sharing among those present, with the result that we ran out of time for Bob's presentation to be completed. However some pages of the talk by Prof. Des Cahill were distributed. DraucherHYPERLINK "http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/73926609/1678587029/name/Child+Sex+Abuse+-+Draucker+Model+of+Healing.pdf"' (Click on title to download to your computer.)
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Another important website: Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria:
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Also on our website is an important piece coming from the Royal Commission. It is the evidence of Professor Carolyn Quadrio of the University of New South Wales and covers her considerable expertise in counselling victims of childhood sexual abuse, and in advocating for more effective measures to be introduced for the safety of children and the care of the wounded.
Towards the end you'll find this, which is really staggering and demands our attention:
Commissioner Murray asked:
Q. In what respects, do you think, a public health model approach might facilitate much less abuse and a more secure and more safe environment for children?
A. Well, I think it's absolutely essential that we have a public health approach, because the biggest risk to children is abuse and violence, and family violence and abuse and trauma, and we have public health approaches to all kinds of illnesses, but the biggest cause of morbidity is right under our noses and we don't have a public health approach to it.
Family violence and abuse and trauma are huge morbidity factors; there's not a psychiatric diagnosis that's not correlated in some way. 50 per cent of people who are hospitalised with mental illness have a history of childhood trauma. If 50 per cent of people who were hospitalised had a history of drinking cow's milk, or whatever, we'd ban it instantly, but we don't have that public health model at all...
And the transmission... the transmission of trauma is extremely significant. For example, 40 per cent of boys who grew up in a domestic violence household are likely to become domestic violence perpetrators themselves. Now, there are not many genes that have 40 per cent penetration, and yet, there's a massive amount of research money that goes into looking at the gene that causes depression and the gene that causes schizophrenia and the gene that causes ADHD, and we've got causes under our noses that we're not doing anything about, which is that if you brutalise children when they're little, they're going to behave in bad ways when they get bigger. But we're not doing enough.
Q. Professor, ... I'd be interested to know from you what do you think the main constituent elements of a public health model should be in the area of child sexual abuse?
A. Understanding first of all that childhood abuse and neglect and adversity is the single greatest pathogen that children are exposed to, over and above all other pathogenic influences in our community. If you put together all the problems of childhood adversity, so then you look at poverty, neglect, abuse, violence, all of that, they are the biggest components, and they cost the community a fortune. So, it's important that we deal with it as the biggest pathogen. It's not easy to deal with a pathogen that's so widespread and that there's a huge amount of denial about, but we've been able to do it in other areas and we can do it in this area.
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A small group met with Fr Arsenio Tuazon, parish priest of St Brigid's, and the leadership team on Thursday, June 11. The meeting was both pleasant and fruitful, with the parish giving us a warm welcome and the assurance of their blessing. Notice of our monthly meetings will appear in the parish bulletin, and in due course a short explanation of our group and our concerns.
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Watch for notice in the Community Diary of Mountain Views Mail. Point it out to friends.
Next meeting: June 23 , at EACH at Comely Bank , 48 Myers Creek Rd, Healesville
Planning meeting July 14 at the Shire Community Link
NEWSLETTER # 3 May 2015
Our next meeting is on Tuesday, May 26, at COMELY BANK / EACH
Please note this new venue, and tell any friends who may be coming.
Bob Munro will speak on the “Stages of Recovery from Child Sexual Abuse”. Bob has experience in counseling. He established the group For the Innocents http://fortheinnocents.com/ He suggests we might benefit from advance reading of a paper authored by Prof Des Cahill, a Summary of the Stages of Recovery. Download from http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/73926609/1678587029/name/Child+Sex+Abuse+-+Draucker+Model+of+Healing.pdf
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The April meeting had a small attendance of 8 or 9 people and some apologies. Carmel Rafferty gave a moving account of the trauma experienced in the Doveton parish school, among children, teachers and parents, and the lack of effective action on the part of authorities.
From her first interview for the position of community liaison it was apparent that something was wrong at the school, though no one would say what it was. It was a thriving school, yet infected with paranoia, tension, and concern about the safety of the children.
In time it became apparent that the parish priest was interfering with children.
Approaches were made from 1991 to the Catholic Education Office, to the regional bishop (Bishop Pell), to the local Community Health Centre and to the Police. It seemed that nothing could be done to remove the parish priest even though it was generally known he was abusing children.
In 1993 a secret investigation resulted in Carmel receiving a letter accusing her of disruptive activities and generally of unsatisfactory work. She was ostracised and bullied through the following months, and at the end of the year she resigned. She has been unable to get another position since. In 2010 she received a small compensation payment.
The experience at Doveton revealed that the various authorities had their hands tied. Beneath the surface there was collusion, whether conscious or unconscious, in respect of the power of some positions and the persons who filled them.
We can only hope that this will no longer be the case, following the various Inquiries and much publicised indictment of many offenders. However vigilance is required, and courage to speak out when one has reason to think that children are in danger.
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Keep an eye out for notices in the Community Diary of Mountain Views Mail. Point it out to friends.
We are grateful to EACH for the use of a room at Comely Bank at no charge. The Shire has made a similar offer of a room at the MEMO. This is yet to be finalised.
email: email@example.com [Right click and select Open Hyperlink]
Next meeting: May 26 , at Comely Bank / EACH, 48 Myers Creek Rd, Healesville
Planning meeting June 9
NEWSLETTER # 2 APRIL 2015
Our next meeting is on Tuesday, April 28, at the Living and Learning Centre, 1 Badger Creek Road, Healesville. Please note this new venue, and tell any friends who may be coming.
Carmel Rafferty will speak on the secondary effects child abuse may have on a community, particularly from her own experience of the difficulty of getting something done when the issue is brought to the attention of authorities. Carmel is a former Catholic Primary School teacher who lost much after alerting the responsible people about the abuse of children in the parish school by the PP.
A very small group came together in March. A number of apologies were acknowledged. We opened with the reading of an Orientation Statement. We have put together a few with different wording, and the intention is to begin meetings with one of these or some other short reading that may express our purpose.
Ian gave an account of growing up on a housing commission estate in the 50s. The title of his entertaining talk was “My Wonderful Life”... Ian has been untiring in protesting against the indifference of the church and society to the damage done to children, and in contacting victims with support and friendship. In this talk he made clear that his strength comes from his absolute trust in God.
CASA, the CENTRE AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE is a government-funded organisation with centres across the state. Melinda Dows gave an outline of the purpose of ECASA [E for Eastern] and the work they do in counselling people who have suffered sexual abuse. The office is in East Ringwood, not far from the Maroondah hospital, and there are various outreach centres, including Healesville. Contact is first to the East Ringwood office, Telephone Access to Counselling: (03) 9870 7330. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Leaflets will be available at out next meeting. We anticipate that Melinda will give a presentation at a future meeting this year. It will be very useful for us to become familiar with ECASA to be able to refer people there for the help they may need.
It is hoped that LOOKOUT will develop a relationship with ECASA. We have made a proposal and await their response. EACH in Ringwood are not able to continue the assistance they provided last year.
There is available a list of groups which offer support and assistance to victims in our area.
Keep an eye out for notices in the Community Diary of Mountain Views Mail. This could be a way to expand our group, if members point out the notice to friends.
The website is intended for this purpose too, to give interested people an idea of what the group is doing:
Material for the Newsletter may be sent by email to email@example.com [Right click and select Open Hyperlink]
Meeting dates: April 28 , May 26
Planning meeting May 12
NEWSLETTER # 1 DECEMBER 2014
Final Meeting reviews progress of Group
In the final meeting for 2014 the first half was spent in looking back over our journey so far. Four questions guided the process. The review was a simple sharing of responses to these questions; mostly issues were not discussed. The following is not a complete report but a representative collection of thoughts and hopes shared.
1) Is it what you expected?
Members expressed satisfaction, even marvelling delight at the progress made so quickly. Those with experience of similar groups confessed they were inspired by the open sharing witnessed in our meetings. A member of the original small group said that he had tried for five years to be heard by the Parish; this present group is the realisation of a dream.
2) Is it useful?
In the area of concern about sexual abuse of children there are a number of things going on that our group has been part of or even initiated, for example: a) The discussion of Kieran Tapsel’s book Potiphar’s Wife has been a valuable help in understanding some of the causes of abuse from the side of the institutional Church; b) The visit to the Parish Centre is a step towards healing in our parish; c) Members of our group ensured that child abuse and family violence were highlighted on the candidates' agenda in the State election.
This group by its very existence is a sign of hope. We do more together than we could achieve individually. The Church ought to have pastoral concern for picking up the wounded, but in this case, “we are the Church”, active in healing the wounds of our town.
3) Is it going in the right direction?
There is a need for us to develop our counselling skills; first and foremost our ability to listen which involves ‘slowing down’ to hear what the other person means and to appreciate where they are coming from. Children in particular have a different perspective.
Many people who come simply need someone to talk to in a situation where they will be allowed to talk about their hurt and their shame. But they don’t necessarily want to approach an organisation. The role of LOOKOUT would be as facilitator, rather than provider of professional help.
Appreciation was expressed for the help we have received from EACH and the professional guidance that Rosie has provided. It is hoped a close relationship will be maintained.
Adults who were victims of abuse as children, the suicide rate among them, their needs, together with the need to discover the causes and the far-reaching impact of clergy sexual abuse of children, should be among our priorities.
The characteristic of LOOKOUT is that it consists of ordinary (non-professional) people who are trying to be open to those who’ve been hurt by abuse. While the hurt can go so deep as to leave family members floundering, no longer knowing what to do, or in what direction to look for secure faith or hope, if ordinary people can at least understand such a situation it is a help.
The story of Lazarus being raised from the dead after three days might make very good sense if applied to a family member whose spirit has been snuffed out by these traumas. There is hope that we can trust in the goodness of God, the goodness of Life, in that love which shares another’s pain.
4) What I’d like to see...
Following the above considerations, the main thing is to keep going. Things have happened that were not right: now that we have started this movement to put them right, we can’t stop. We can hope for New Life to come back into our parish, into our families, and into our town.
Lay people, the ‘laity’ in the church, need to take responsibility and, faced with wounded families and neighbours, to do whatever they can.
We need to be linked into the network of providers of support and care.
We need to continue to learn: “Six Stages of Grooming” is now available; an article by Fr Tom Doyle is in the library, along with a small selection of books and articles; a video that might be given to any victim would be useful (two programs are being used in primary schools); a large collection of leaflets povides information about ways to help and services available.
This collection of reflections, thoughts, hopes and dreams may not include everything that was shared. If you want to add something that has been missed, please let me know. EMAIL
LOOKOUT puts abuse on election agenda
One week out from the State elections, candidates for the seat of Eildon faced questions from a gathering of alert voters in the MEMO on Friday November 21. LOOKOUT presented the candidates with a proposal to fund a social worker to organise child safety policies and programs in the town. Outlining the proposal towards the end of the meeting, Kersten Gentle received an encouraging response from the candidates, all of whom showed awareness and concern for the issue.
Our proposal may be summarised as follows:
- The person would be trained in recognising the signs of child abuse. It would be a pilot program to show the way for other towns. Training by NAPCAN or ACHF.
- LOOKOUT is only raising the issue. The program would be in response to community needs, and run by a committee raised within the community.
- Victims of child abuse are to be found everywhere. Mostly they are silent. But today's children are at risk in every town.
- Some training is required, and some organising is needed. Funding would ensure these needs begin to be met.
In a letter of appreciation to Kersten and Pam, Tony said they had put the issue of child abuse on the election agenda in our town. Having the backing of LOOKOUT meant that the candidates took the proposal more seriously since it already has the support of a local group.
The proposal itself is a practical step this town community could take, he wrote. Behind the shock and pain expressed by many people there is a felt urgency to do something.
We should continue to develop and refine the proposal, while waiting for funding from government or other sources. Over coming weeks we ought to take this proposal as far as we can in defining what it entails, how it would work, what outcomes might be expected from it, and so on.