Institutional child sexual abuse trauma remains part of a ‘hidden public health crisis’

One year on from the National Apology to Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse the complex trauma experienced by survivors remains part a hidden public health crisis, says Australia’s National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma, Blue Knot Foundation.

Blue Knot Foundation President Dr Cathy Kezelman AM said that while much has been achieved since the historic apology, the public health crisis of complex trauma affecting more than 1 in 4 Australian adults was not being adequately addressed.

“Today is a day on which we recall how Australia and its government  acknowledged and honoured the experiences of survivors of institutional child sexual abuse; told them that Australia ‘believes you,’ and said sorry for the systemic failures to protect children, respond appropriately and provide support, redress and justice to survivors,” Dr Kezelman said.

“Since the historic apology to victims and survivors, we have welcomed the implementation of many of the Royal Commission’s recommendations. These include the new National Office of Child Safety and reforms to civil litigation, criminal justice and mandatory reporting, and the announcement of a National Centre around Child Sexual Abuse – still to be established.

“We have also seen the first wave of redress for survivors and victims, with the National Redress Scheme having received 4,800 applications by August and making 512 payments.

“However, the complex trauma experienced by victims and survivors remains part of a serious public health crisis, which is not being adequately addressed.”

More than 1 in 4 adults are living with complex trauma in Australia including not only victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse, but many other adults who experienced abuse, neglect and violence as a child, as an adult, or both.

“We recognise that sadly the abuse of children did not stop when the Royal Commission closed its doors in 2017. Almost daily, new cases of child sexual abuse are reported, some within institutions, others within the home and family,” Dr Kezelman said.

“The latest government statistics show an alarming rise in child abuse and we are also seeing an increase in online child sexual exploitation, abuse and grooming and an epidemic of bullying.

“The lack of awareness of complex trauma in Australia means many survivors are not receiving the trauma-informed support that they need.

“This is why Blue Knot Foundation is calling on the Federal Government to prioritise a complex trauma strategy as a pillar of mental health policy. We need best practice trauma-informed approaches to care and services to ensure that all survivors – including the victims of institutional child sexual abuse – have the support they need for their recovery.”

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