Friday, September 20, 2013

Sex abuse victims told to seek support

Territorians affected by childhood sexual abuse are encouraged to connect with Relationships Australia NT ahead of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses in Child Sexual Abuse, which comes to Darwin on Tuesday 15 October for the first round of private hearings.

The Commission, which started in Western Australia last month and held the first public hearing was in Sydney this week, will be in town to hear from victims and survivors in private sessions over several days.

 Relationships Australia NT CEO Marie Morrison said the organisation can support anyone who has experienced institutional childhood sexual abuse including people who wish to share their story with the Commission.

“It can be a very emotional, challenging and confronting experience for people to talk about what happened to them,” Ms Morrison said.

“We have been counselling in the Territory for 40 years and worked with many people affected by childhood sexual abuse and abuse experienced in a variety of intuitional settings.  

“Our counsellors are available to help victims explore and collate their story, provide referrals where appropriate and in addition we can provide appropriate liaison through our Aboriginal advisors.”

During the private sessions, people will have one hour to present their story to one or two commissioners in a confidential and informal setting.

Ms Morrison said a high number of those sexually abused as children in the Northern Territory are Aboriginal and/or living in remote Territory communities.

“Where appropriate our Indigenous advisors, cultural consultants and Aboriginal family workers assist in connecting counsellors with victims,” she said.

“On the Tiwi Islands alone, including Nguiu, Milikapiti and Pirlingimpi, we have a qualified counsellor and three Aboriginal staff who will help those who were abused in coming forward to give evidence.”

Relationships Australia NT was awarded $650 000 in funding over the next three years by the federal government to support survivors of childhood sexual abuse that will take part in the Commission.

It was the only support service for victims presenting at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses in Child Sexual Abuse to be funded in the Northern Territory.

“Our staff will be there for people before, during and after the Commission,” Ms Morrison said.

Territorians who want to present their story to the Commission are required to register their interest via  but Ms Morrison said her staff can help victims through this process.

To contact Relationships Australia NT for more information or support please visit or call 1300 364 277.