Help the victims, not the offenders

VICKI Hamilton can't understand why millions of taxpayers' dollars are spent protecting pedophiles like Dennis Ferguson when her group can't get funding.

Ms Hamilton founded Wollongbar's Heartfelt House three years ago to help child sex abuse victims.

However, Ms Hamilton, a child sexual abuse survivor herself, said she had spent nearly 12 months sending funding applications to the Federal Community Services Minister's office with nothing to show for it.

Ms Hamilton was upset that taxpayer funds - admittedly spent through the Queensland Government - had been used providing safe housing for Ferguson while her group went without.

"Why can't some of that money come to us? Ferguson is never ever going to be rehabilitated," she said.

"From what we hear (Page MP) Janelle Saffin understands our cause and is lobbying on our behalf, but nothing is happening."

Heartfelt House offers a weekly support program for women and men dealing with childhood sex abuse.

"We've had 50 women through our programs and everyone will tell you of significant changes in their lives - and that's because they no longer feel alone," Ms Hamilton said. "We ease them of the shame and guilt, and just to have that eased lightens the load on them straight away.

"We're trying to get across to (Community Services) Minister Jenny Macklin's office that by supporting these people you add security to the whole family."

Ms Hamilton said the program acknowledged the pain suffered and identified behaviours occurring as a result of abuse, so victims could move on.

With 95 per cent of sex abuse perpetrated by a family member, she said the much-touted 'stranger-danger' was a small risk.

"That's why you hear about Dennis Ferguson," she said.

"He's the absolute model of stranger-danger. He even looks like a pedophile, and those people are feared by the public. But it is often the people next door we need to worry about."

Heartfelt House is funded by community sponsors and churches.

Ms Hamilton wants $140,000 a year in Federal funding to pay for two workers, facilitators, rent and insurance.

"I just can't understand why we don't seem to be getting anywhere with this," she said.

Janelle Saffin said she was trying to secure funding for Heartfelt House.

"It's a service that cries out for support and I'm doing all I can to get it," she said.


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