The important conversation our community needs to have

13th December 2017 11:14 AM
Survivor John Saunders with Naarah Morgan, CASPA General Manager, at Q&A audience and panel session - Survivor John Saunders with Naarah Morgan, CASPA General Manager, at Q&A audience and panel session - "Life After Sexual Abuse” - to better understand the trauma inflicted by sexual violence and discuss strategies for support and healing. At Star Court Theatre in Lismore. Sophie Moeller

HEALTH experts, survivors, family members and other professionals gathered in Lismore this week for an event to help deal with the issue of child sex abuse.

Survivor John Saunders spoke at the event at the Star Court Theatre on Tuesday night, followed by panel of experts who discussed the impacts and healing processes of people who experienced sexual violence.

He said the event was an opportunity to better understand the trauma inflicted by sexual violence and discuss strategies for support and healing.

Mr Saunders said having a frank and open discussion about child sexual abuse helped to "create a safe space for people to ask questions and seek help".

"The Q&A session offered the opportunity for the audience and panel to discuss how we, as individuals and as a community, can contribute to stopping sexual abuse in its tracks," he said.

He also talked about strategies he used to overcome his suffering to become an advocate and a counsellor for people who are still struggling with the past.

The panel of seven specialists involved in the Q&A were:

  • Brad Hodges, Clinical Neuropsychotherapist, Complex Care
  • James Fraser, Clinician, CASPA
  • Kate Loubet, CEO, Heartfelt House
  • Lyn Patman, Therapeutic Services Manager, Bravehearts
  • Magistrate David Heilpern, Lismore Court
  • Professor Judy Atkinson, Trauma Specialist, Jiman and Bundjalung
  • Sharon Brodie, Clinical Lead and Sexual Assault Counsellor, NSW Health.

CASPA general manager and producer of the event, Naarah Morgan, said: "Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are amongst us, they are our family, our friends, our colleagues, our neighbours.

"Child protection is everyone's business and together we can make a difference in supporting those who have endured and survived this trauma but in also implementing safe and child focused environments throughout our community in the hope of preventing it.

"If there has ever been an important conversation we as a society need to be having, this is it."