Royal Commission reflections: Healing and support for victims and survivors (Week 2)

Helping survivors to heal  

Throughout November we are reflecting on how the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (the Royal Commission) has changed how we understand and respond to survivors’ healing and support needs.  

In Week 1, we looked at the Royal Commission’s recommendations for improving service systems so that they can better respond to those needs. This week, we reflect on knowmore’s role within the service system and how our multidisciplinary, culturally safe and trauma-informed approach helps survivors on their healing journey.  

The need for a national legal service for survivors 

During our October reflections, we looked back at knowmore’s history and our work supporting victims and survivors from across Australia to share their evidence and accounts with the Royal Commission. 

Throughout the Royal Commission, many survivors spoke about their need for legal support to navigate complex legal processes. This included support to report their abuse to police, to seek redress and compensation for the harm they experienced, and to access and amend records held about them by governments and institutions. 

Support services also spoke to the Royal Commission about the importance of legal assistance, particularly for survivors who had lost faith in the legal system due to past negative experiences, and survivors who felt disempowered by legal processes because of the childhood trauma they experienced.  

The Royal Commission responded by recommending that the Australian Government establish and fund a national legal advice and referral service for victims and survivors, to help them to understand their legal options and navigate the legal service system. The Royal Commission suggested that this service should be available to all victims and survivors of child sexual abuse, regardless of whether the abuse took place in an institutional, family, community or online setting.   

The Australian Government has since implemented this recommendation, funding knowmore as the national legal service to fulfil this important role for all survivors of child sexual abuse. 

Supporting survivors on their healing journey a multidisciplinary, culturally safe and trauma-informed approach  

knowmore recognises the strength and resilience of survivors, and their ability to heal from the trauma they have experienced. We also recognise that child sexual abuse can have profound, lifelong and often cumulative impacts on a survivor’s life. We believe that all survivors should have access to appropriate support to address these impacts and help them on their healing journey.   

knowmore is proud to be part of the healing journey of many victims and survivors, including survivors of child sexual abuse and survivors of the Stolen Generations. We have supported tens of thousands of survivors from across Australia on this journey. For some, we have walked with them from the day they first disclosed their experiences of abuse to the day they received justice and redress.     

“It’s been an honour to be part of people’s journey and to hold their hand and walk with them on this journey.” Aunty Glendra Stubbs, knowmore’s Elder in Residence 

To ensure that we provide the most appropriate and high-quality support for survivors, knowmore has embedded 3 important principles in everything we do: 

  • A multidisciplinary approach. We provide holistic support to survivors to address their different needs, including their legal, mental health, social and cultural, and financial needs. We do this by having a team of lawyers, social workers and counsellors, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement advisors, and financial counsellors who work together to provide wraparound support for survivors. While we offer all of these services to our clients, survivors are always able to choose which supports they access at different stages of their healing journey.   
  • A culturally safe approach. We place cultural safety at the centre of everything we do, in recognition of the right of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander survivors to receive support that is culturally safe and appropriate for them. Our staff are trained and experienced in providing culturally safe services, and we offer survivors the choice of receiving individual support from one of our male or female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement advisors during their interactions with knowmore. Our culturally safe approach has enabled many Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander survivors to receive the support they need. As of 30 September 2022, 35% of knowmore’s clients identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander peoples.  
  • A trauma-informed approach. Our staff are trained and experienced in supporting survivors who have experienced trauma in childhood, including from sexual abuse and forced and wrongful removal from their families, communities and country. We recognise that revisiting these traumatic experiences can be very difficult and we approach our work in a way that prioritises safety, trust, collaboration, choice and empowerment for every survivor. Survivors also have the option to receive individual support from our team of specialist social workers and counsellors who can support survivors during their interactions with knowmore and work closely with other support services to address survivors’ healing needs.    

We are proud to provide a service that is truly multidisciplinary, culturally safe and trauma-informed and recognise the many benefits of this innovative service model for survivors. 

We also continue to advocate at all levels of government for survivors to have increased access to high-quality, appropriate and free services that can assist them on their unique healing journey.    

Join us in Week 3 as we reflect on what else has changed as a result of the Royal Commission’s recommendations to improve healing and support for survivors.