Vicki Hamilton, executive director of Heartfelt House at Wollongbar, is excited about the development of a training program that would enable other groups to adopt its program.
Vicki Hamilton, executive director of Heartfelt House at Wollongbar, is excited about the development of a training program that would enable other groups to adopt its program. Jay Cronan

Spreading message of hope

VICKI HAMILTON isn’t ready yet for world domination, but she might not have a choice in the matter.

The executive director of Heartfelt House, an organisation at Wollongbar that helps adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse, is preparing a training program for other groups that want to adopt it.

The Heartfelt House program is virtually unique in having a 100% completion rate of its 18-week course for adults coming to terms with sexual abuse they suffered as children.

The program has been recognised in the Federal Government’s National Child Protection Framework, but is only available at Heartfelt House’s Wollongbar headquarters – and then only when it has funding available.

The organisation gets by on regular funding from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation, occasional government grants and community donations.

Mostly that money is used to fund Heartfelt House’s programs. However, Ms Hamilton said the organisation was now only about six months away from developing a training program for the unique course.

The queue is already growing.

There are already several organisations – both government and non-government – within Australia keen to offer Heartfelt House’s “Taking the First Steps” program.

There are also two organisations in the US keen to offer it.

Ms Hamilton said the Minneapolis Family and Children’s Centre (for women prostitutes) and Sexual Offence Services Minneapolis had both been keen to take on the program since she dropped into the organisations while visiting the city.

However, teaching the program requires “trainers” to spend time at Heartfelt House learning the program and requires the local group to offer follow-up support.

That means, to start with, Ms Ham-ilton is more interested in spreading the program around Australia.

There is one spot left in Heartfelt House’s next 18-week program, which starts at the end of this month. Call 6628 8940 for details.



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