My story: Survivor Debbie McFarlane

Survivor Debbie McFarlane tells her story about applying for redress through the National Redress Scheme. Debbie worked with knowmore to prepare her application for the National Redress Scheme and has received redress for the abuse she survived.

Thank you Debbie for your courage in sharing your story.

If you are a survivor of institutional child sexual abuse and need free legal advice or support, please contact knowmore on 1800 605 762.

My story: Survivor Debbie McFarlane

DESCRIPTION: On a grey background, the knowmore logo. Logo text, with the letters K and W in teal and the phrase “no more” in white: knowmore, free legal help for survivors. In a park, a woman walks on a boardwalk over a lake. She watches the ducks swimming in the water.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: I grew up from the age of seven mostly in care. My parents died and I was split up from my siblings. I am a Forgotten Australian. I am Aboriginal from the Bpangerang mob and another mob up in New South Wales. I’m a mother of three daughters, ten grandchildren, a great grandchild. I am a survivor of sexual assault.

DESCRIPTION: The woman sits on a low stone wall. Text: Debbie McFarlane. She sits in a house and speaks to camera.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: To get me through I’ve been, for the last nine years, admin on several Facebook groups with other people and that helps us. We support each other through Facebook.

DESCRIPTION: A montage of shots of the exterior of the brick house. A bumper sticker on the car outside reads: No Room for Racism, with a yellow map of Australia on top of the black and red background of the Australian Aboriginal flag.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: But day to day, my daughters, my grandchildren, that’s what life’s about.

DESCRIPTION: A woodblock-style decoration on a shelf reads: LOVE.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: We didn’t have photos in the children’s homes, and what photos I could… I’ve managed to scrape together over the last 45 years are faded or distorted. I want to get a program where we can start fixing the photos up. And photos mean a lot, something that says you existed, that you were there, that someone cared enough to take a photo of you. That there is a photo of you with your parents or with your siblings.

DESCRIPTION: The spine of a book reads: Our Family Album. Debbie sits on a couch and leafs through a photo album. White text on black: knowmore was established in 2013 to provide legal help to survivors like Debbie, whose experience informed the work of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: When the Royal Commission was completed, they put out notices about knowmore and the Redress. 12 years earlier I had gone civil, halfway through had to employ a lawyer. I’d also had to make five different statements to police officers about the five different abusers that had abused me and it was a hard process. And knowmore has got more knowledge. Before I went to knowmore, I… I had to re-go through my file, and it was hurting to go through that. But I knew I had to re-look at it.

DESCRIPTION: Debbie walks further along the boardwalk in the park.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: There was three sentences in my file that I was able to point knowmore to which they were able to use and which they did to my advantage. And that helped with my claim. It was a lot easier for me than when I did civil. Civil took me five years, redress took me less than a year. If you were sexually abused, in a type of institution, if you were touched in an inappropriate way, then you have a claim and don’t feel guilty.

DESCRIPTION: In the kitchen, Debbie makes a hot drink.

DEBBIE McFARLANE: The more that people know about this, the more it can be stopped, because this is going to add to a pile that is going to say to the world, these things happened and could still happen.

DESCRIPTION: White text on black: With knowmore’s assistance, Debbie received a payment through the National Redress Scheme. She will use some of these funds to purchase photo editing software that will help others recover their lost memories. She also plans to take her whole family on a holiday. To receive free legal advice and support please contact us at 1800 605 762,