This month our intrepid Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Liaison officer Chris Lee visited Mt Isa and Rockhampton with Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services Community Legal Education worker, Donna Hensen.
The main aim of these outreach visits to remote areas is to let Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people know about the Royal Commission, and answer any legal questions they might have, and to support them through the process if they want to talk about their experience.
Given the high rates of institutionalisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, knowmore is committed to providing accessible information and advice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have experienced child sexual abuse in an institutional context.
Working with Aboriginal communities can take time, particularly with such traumatising and painful subject matter as child sexual abuse.
For some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, this may be the first time they have ever discussed what happened to them – so it is important that they are supported to tell their story in their way, on their terms.
Since commencing operations in Sydney in July 2013, 12 per cent of clients assisted by knowmore have identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
As at March 2014, knowmore has given face to face legal advice to 156 clients on an outreach basis.
knowmore also conducts Community Education events and seeks to start the conversation with people and let them know about the support that is available to them.
As Cultural Liaison officer Chris Lee puts it: “it’s about reaching out to people in their communities and making sure they know that they can talk to us – if they want to.
“Letting people know what knowmore does, passing on clear information about the Royal Commission and helping our mob engage with it if they wish to, is what we are here to do. Spreading the word and simplifying things so that people can prepare to tell their story if or when they feel ready to.”
knowmore regularly conducts outreach across the country. If you think your community might benefit from a community education session or a face-to-face chat with one of our Liaison officers or a lawyer, let us know by ringing 1800 605 762.