Recently, I tabled a Change.org petition as a paper, with over 12,500 signatures. The e-petition is titled “No Wrong Door” and addresses the sub-optimal approach we still have in Victoria in dealing with survivors of childhood sexual abuse.
I thank Members for providing me leave to table such an important document and more specifically, for continuing to allow survivors and their loved ones a voice.
A No Wrong Door approach is one where victim-survivors of childhood sexual assault are not turned away when they disclose their ordeals and are given more effective pathways for recovery. It is recommendation 9.1 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for an accessible integrated model. The Victorian Government’s submission to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System recommended “service reform initiatives indicate it is important that intake into services is person-centred, with multiple entry points and a ‘no wrong door approach’” Unfortunately, this has not been accepted, nor implemented by Victoria.
We don’t know why, despite its success in New South Wales.
Integrated health and care systems, such as NSW’s Integrated Prevention and Response to Violence, Abuse and Neglect (IPARAVN) Framework, increase accessibility to specialist services for survivors and their families.
This is done by creating safe, trauma-informed places for disclosure of abuse and means staff are trained to go beyond ‘What’s wrong with you’ to ask, ‘What happened to you?’
Staff can then provide, or link people to specialist services, as a ‘no wrong door’ for disclosure of sexual abuse.
Increasing accessibility to trauma informed services and supports for survivors, will save lives, and reduce pain and suffering for many Victorians, their families, and communities. Integrated service systems also create significant economic benefits, should we even need to touch on the financial side of things.
In short, this petition asks the Victorian government to pilot the implementation of integrated service systems, in two communities devastated by institutional child sexual abuse: the Ballarat and Bayside communities.
The NSW model has been implemented with great results. In fact, an interim review of the scheme showed that two thirds of respondents participating in the new approach agreed or strongly agreed that their system integration had led to improvements in health and wellbeing outcomes. A full evaluation by NSW Health will be published in just a few weeks.
- the NSW framework sits alongside others in the USA, that are specifically for integrated systems for forms of sexual abuse, domestic violence and other trauma.
- the UK is leading the world in implementation of integrated systems of health and care at scale, for all citizens. Now is the time for Victoria to do the right thing by victim-survivors of childhood abuse and implement this pilot
Karen, the principal petitioner, makes a great point that the very sensible push for national healthcare system reform could be partly addressed by primary prevention strategies earlier on. It’s not rocket science.
- Learning from the UK is a no brainer, as they’ve proven it reduces the burden on the NHS, reduces costs and increases health and care outcomes,
- We need to learn from the NSW framework, which could be integrated into a citizen model of integrated care.
- We need to learn from Victoria’s own Better at Home initiative from the recent Budget, which integrates allied healthcare and subacute services into a single service model.
We decided to table the signatures and names only, instead of the comments page as well as there were quite a few recounts of traumatic abuse, but I’d like to reflect that this petition allowed many survivors to share their story.
In some comments people shared sympathies for lost loved ones include:
“In memory of my cousin, Trevor” and “I love you Dad”.
Others reflected on their own experience:
“I need to find out why we had our innocence taken from us by convicted paedophiles being placed at Beaumaris primary” and “I also was a victim of institutional abuse”.
One of the comments really highlights my thinking when I first spoke to Karen. The comment is “Why on earth is this not being dealt with? After a national Royal Commission!”
A great question.
’d like to thank Karen Walker and her incredibly tireless advocacy on behalf of not only her late brother Ian but her partner and all other survivors.
Ian’s story is one I won’t share here today due to timing, but I’m sure Members in this place can only assume the troubles he had after his abuse. This is where Karen’s motivation and passion comes from.
I’d also like to thank the other survivors my office and I have spoken to in preparation for this petition and to discuss this issue in more depth. You are the definition of brave.
Lastly, thanks to the 12,000 signatories who gave their name to a great cause. Know that myself and Derryn Hinch’s Justice Party are fully committed to supporting you throughout the journey.
I commend this paper to the House.