Art at work: Dalwood glass artist and child sexual abuse survivor Jacqueline King with her artwork ‘Angels All Around’, part of the Artfelt exhibition being held at Ballina in July to aid the work of Heartfelt House.
Art at work: Dalwood glass artist and child sexual abuse survivor Jacqueline King with her artwork ‘Angels All Around’, part of the Artfelt exhibition being held at Ballina in July to aid the work of Heartfelt House. Cathy Adams

Child sex abuse survivors crisis

JACQUELINE KING thought she was doing just fine.

The Alstonville resident had suffered about five years of sexual abuse as a child and then been sexually assaulted as an adult.

She wasn’t sleeping properly, was so alert to any hint of danger she could no longer work in her former job as a corporate executive, her personal relationships were stumbling, but that was just life. You coped.

It wasn’t until last May, when she began Heartfelt House’s unique 18-week program for survivors of child sexual abuse at Als-tonville, that Ms King realised just how deeply those attacks had impacted on her life and that she gained the tools to start her recovery.

She still suffers post-traumatic stress syndrome, but the course has allowed her to start the healing process and to recognise behaviours she had adopted to cope with the abuse, but were impacting on her relationships.

However, Ms King is one of the lucky few. Heartfelt House executive officer Vicki Hamilton said the organisation would have to stop providing the course in three months unless government funding could be found.

Ms Hamilton said Heartfelt House last year was one of only two groups to be endorsed as able to help survivors of sex abuse in the Federal Government’s national child protection framework.

That recognition came with more than $60,000 to fund the organisation’s program for abuse survivors until last September.

Since then, the program has been getting by on donations and a sponsorship deal with Newcastle Permanent, which provides $33,000 over three years.

At the same time, the waiting list to get into the program had blown out to a year.

Now Heartfelt House is down to its last $12,000, which Ms Ham-ilton said would cover wages for professionals running the program for the next three months.

Ms Hamilton said she had been told by Federal Page MP Janelle Saffin, who was pressuring Families Minister Jenny Macklin to find money for Heartfelt House, that the Government valued the organisation’s work.

However, that had not translated into funding.

The organisation wanted $200,000 a year inrecurrent funding, but had been told by the Government there was not even a program it could apply for funding through, despite last year’s framework coming with a commitment to help adult survivors of child sexual abuse.

“We just want the Federal Government to live up to its commitment to support adult survivors and one of the main ways of doing that is through Heartfelt House,” Ms Hamilton said.



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