SAVED: Heartfelt House program development coordinator Heidi Tornow, Page MP Kevin Hogan, and Heartfelt House executive director Vicki Atkins at yesterday’s funding announcement.
SAVED: Heartfelt House program development coordinator Heidi Tornow, Page MP Kevin Hogan, and Heartfelt House executive director Vicki Atkins at yesterday’s funding announcement. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Heartfelt House thrown last minute lifeline

IT was down to the wire for Heartfelt House.

The Alstonville-based charity had a three-year waiting list and less than three weeks of funding left before it would be forced to close its doors - just weeks after its 10th birthday.

Fortunately, the service, which helps adult survivors of child sexual abuse, was thrown a last-minute lifeline with the announcement of $300,000 in funding from the Federal Government.

Heartfelt House provides support to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

To contact Heartfelt House phone 6628 8940.

Executive director and founder Vicki Atkins said the funding was vital.

"We have a three year waiting list of adult survivors who have been sexually abused as children needing our help," she said.

"If they make the courageous step forward ... it's important that we can then offer them the support that they so desperately need and we can now do that. We're over the moon."

The announcement followed nearly two years of lobbying of Human Services Minister Scott Morrison by Page MP Kevin Hogan.

Mr Hogan said it was a difficult campaign because Heartfelt House wasn't recommended by the department and was allocated no funding in the budget.

Mr Hogan credited Heartfelt House clients sharingtheir stories with the minister for the success.

Without the funding, Ms Atkins said the service would have closed at a time when it was inundated with victims whose decision to come forward had been triggered, by coverage of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

"We're getting phone calls, not only from survivors, but from organisations and agencies who need to know how they can help the survivors that are coming forward," she said.

Ms Atkins said the program left survivors more secure in their relationships, better parents, able to start or resume study or work and able to break cycles of alcohol and drug abuse.



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