CBERS Redress Service

The Edmund Rice Institute for Social Justice

24 High Street Fremantle WA 6160

CBERS Consultancy

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Contact details

CBERS Consultancy


24 High Street
Fremantle WA 6160

Freecall number:
1800 621 805

Telephone number:
(08) 9433-3644

Facsimile:
(08) 9382-4114

Web: www.cbers.org

Redress WA

CBERS Redress Service is an independent support service funded by the Department for Communities to provide support groups for Redress WA applicants.  CBERS Redress Service operates under the auspices of the Edmund Rice Centre Mirrabooka Inc., which provides project management and accountancy services.

CBERS Redress Service does not have any influence on Departmental decisions regarding the level of payments offered to Redress applicants and is not involved in the assessment or processing of applications.  All such enquiries should be directed to the Redress WA Helpline (Freecall 1800-617-233) or email info@redress.wa.gov.au

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CONNECTGROUPS

ConnectGroups: Support Groups Association WA Inc. is the peak body for support groups across WA and can link you with one of the 850 existing support groups currently operating in WA.

Membership is free and support groups are open to all members of the community.  Groups focus on a wide range of problems such as depression, anger, and family violence, as well as personal development groups focusing on topics such as building confidence and self esteem, personal growth, health, and wellness. 

Connect Groups also offers leadership training workshops for support group members to help groups become self-sustaining, and empower groups to continue running without a facilitator if they wish to do so.  Contact ConnectGroups on Freecall 1800-195-575 or phone 9228-4488.  Web: www.connectgroups.org.au 

FACT: FORGOTTEN AUSTRALIANS COMING TOGETHER

Launched in October 2009, FACT (Forgotten Australians Coming Together) WA Inc. is a support organisation for adults who were in State care during childhood.

FACT Representative Laurie Humphreys says one of the key goals of FACT is to establish a resource or drop-in centre where Forgotten Australians can access services and information, and spend time with like-minded people.

Contact Laurie on (08) 9337-4850 to join the FACT mailing list or to find out how you can help support this important work. 
 

FURTHER INFORMATION AVAILABLE FROM REDRESS WA

The most recent newsletter from Redress WA is available at: http://www.communities.wa.gov.au/News/Documents/DPC15551_NEWSLETTER_V5.pdf 
The full range of support services currently funded through Redress WA is available at: http://www.communities.wa.gov.au/News/Documents/DPC16156_BOOKLET_V4.pdf

It is important to keep your contact details up to date and advise Redress WA of any changes.

Background information: The Redress WA scheme and CBERS Redress Service

The Redress WA scheme was announced in December 2007, and was set up to provide an apology, ex-gratia payment, and other support to adults who were harmed as children in WA State care.

As many people in the existing CBERS client group were eligible to apply for the redress scheme, CBERS Coordinator Philippa White and colleague Gail Green set up CBERS Redress Service (CRS).  In May 2008 CRS was appointed to a panel of independent support service providers funded by the Department for Communities.  During the application phase of the redress scheme a workforce of 29 CRS contract consultants assisted approximately 850 people with supportive counselling; help to locate records; and assistance to prepare and submit applications. CBERS Redress Service also operated an information service, and responded to a large volume of calls from the general public during the application phase of the redress scheme, which officially closed on 30th April 2009, but was extended to October 30th 2009 to allow registered applicants sufficient time to submit further information.

On 28th July 2009 the WA Government announced that the maximum payment level under Redress WAwould be reduced from $80,000 to $45,000.  Community Services Minister Robyn McSweeney’s announcement was released in the following media statement: ‘MEDIA STATEMENT MINISTER McSWEENEY’ (PDF, 20kb)

CBERS joined with redress applicants, service providers, and other concerned community members in speaking out against the Government’s decision to reduce maximum payments, providing media interviews and writing letters to the newspaper.  CBERS’ point of view is outlined in one of the two letters published in The West Australian newspaper: Letter West Australian 4-8-09 (PDF, 79kb). CBERS also supported a series of protest rallies at Parliament House Perth, which were organised by CLAN (Care Leavers Australia Network) PROTEST RALLIES SEPT/OCT/NOV (PDF, 100kb). Groups such as CLAN and FACT WA (Forgotten Australians Coming Together) continue working behind the scenes trying to change this situation. Please contact FACT (08-9337-4850) or CLAN (www.clan.org.au) if you would like to help their efforts.

After such a promising start to the Redress scheme, during which many people found help to deal with the aftereffects of childhood abuse, and some had opened up to family members for the first time, we were dismayed to see the positive gains become overshadowed by a sense of betrayal and disappointment at the decision to reduce maximum payments. We also saw a lowering of morale among the staff at Redress WA, who were caught in the crossfire of a decision not of their own making.

Moving Forward: A Focus on Healing

CBERS’ primary role has always been a therapeutic one, with a focus is on personal growth and healing.  In psychological terms, the decision to reduce the maximum redress payment damaged the trust of a group of people who had already been let down by a government authority, and for whom trust is a major issue.  However, we believe wholeheartedly that healing comes from the inside, and that successful recovery from the aftereffects of childhood abuse can occur without apologies, prosecution of offenders, or financial redress.  If managed well, these things can assist with healing, but survivors of childhood abuse often don’t receive external acknowledgement of their experiences, yet successfully recover.

The first step to recovery from the aftereffects of child abuse is to break the silence and talk about your experiences to someone you can trust.  Regardless of what happens with the redress scheme, talking about childhood abuse is always a positive first step towards resolving problems caused by the abuse.

Some people find that they are relatively untroubled by memories of childhood abuse during their middle years (20-55), when work and family commitments tend to keep us busy, but on reaching retirement age may begin to suffer from persistent bad memories and unpleasant feelings.  This is normal, and happens because our short-term memory diminishes with age, while our long-term memory gets better.  Also, there are generally less distractions and more time to reflect during our senior years.

When we try to block out memories and feelings associated with childhood abuse, a snowballing effect takes place and feelings can build up to a point where they start coming out at inconvenient times.  This might show up as flashes of anger or overwhelming sadness in response to seemingly minor triggers.  Clinical psychologist Christabel Chamarette describes a ‘jar of emotions’ that starts to fill up during childhood, and is added to each time we can’t express our feelings.  The very strong emotions caused by childhood abuse quickly fill the jar, and start to build up pressure. When there is no opportunity to express the emotions in a healthy way, the backlog starts to leak out in unexpected and inappropriate bursts.  Talking about traumatic memories vents the pressure in the jar and allows us to feel less vulnerable and more in charge of our emotions.   

Trying to block out memories of childhood abuse simply doesn’t work in the longer term, because one part of the brain tries to pretend the abuse didn’t happen, while another part knows it did.  This creates psychological conflict, which over time can lead to further problems as we try to block out memories as well as cope with an internal conflict.

Sometimes people feel worse when they first talk about childhood abuse, and might wish they had never opened up this ‘can of worms’.  However, these bad feelings pass, and as people continue processing the memories and feelings, they start to feel better and more in control of their lives than ever before.  Once the bad memories are unpacked, taken out and examined, they lose all their power because they are no longer bubbling away just below the surface, ready to be triggered by events in our daily lives.  

Revisiting memories of childhood abuse through adult eyes also allows us to see ourselves with greater understanding and compassion.  Children take on an excessive amount of responsibility for what happens to them, and commonly feel an unwarranted sense of guilt, while any positive experiences associated with the abuse can lead victims to believe they were complicit in it.  Children are never to blame for their abuse, even if they took part in the activity or enjoyed any aspect of it.  Discussing memories of childhood abuse with a trusted person gives us an opportunity to see past events in context, and to understand why we might not have said anything for all these years, or why we may have given the appearance of consent.

Healing starts on the inside, and during this interim period of the redress scheme it is important for applicants to focus on their own internal wellbeing.  You have taken the important step of sharing traumatic memories, and if this still feels ‘unfinished’, or you are troubled by bad memories, it might be time to reach out for support.  Ask yourself “What can I do for myself at this time?”, and take steps to achieve that. True healing comes from developing a compassionate understanding of ourselves, and we can find that through sharing our personal feelings with someone we trust.

CBERS REDRESS SERVICE

Director:

Dr Philippa White

Address:

24 High Street, Fremantle WA 6160

Telephone:

(08) 9433 3644

Freecall:

1800 621 805

Fax:

(08) 9382-4114

Office email:

Website:

www.cbers.org