Healing and Hope

Members of our Geelong Grammar School community have faced significant challenges from hurt of the past. In recent years, the School has been working to provide an authentic response to survivors of sexual abuse.

In a letter to the School community in June 2018 our Principal, Rebecca Cody, observed: "I have met with survivors and I am deeply sorry for their pain and suffering: to be sorry though, is not enough; complying with new legislation is not enough - we need to set an example and lead. We need to move forward by recognising the devastating impacts and effects of childhood sexual abuse and by never losing sight of the learnings from them."

The Geelong Grammar School community is guided by many committed individuals who have listened and learned. They are collaboratively working to lead the way through challenging times.

Healing and Hope - message for survivors - Saturday 25 April 2020 features a message from our Principal, Rebecca Cody (Chapter 1), followed by a prayer from Rebecca and Senior Chaplain, Reverend Gordon Lingard (Chapter 2)

The present COVID-19 pandemic is impacting people in many ways. What has become clear to all of us is the importance of reaching out to our communities, to our families and to our friends to check in on those who may need help.

Confusion and uncertainty impact us all and can be particularly difficult for those already living with the effects of previous trauma.

The GGS Recognition Committee was established in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Childhood Sexual Abuse and comprises dedicated and uniquely experienced volunteers - including survivors, Old Geelong Grammarians, past and current parents, and past and current staff. It continues to collaborate with the School providing advice and feedback to shape a fair and humane response to all.

A unique initiative that has been in the planning throughout 2019 with the support of the Principal and the School Council, looks to provide support and practical assistance to survivors and those who have suffered trauma. Guidance, including direct input from survivors, their families and from many in the School community, has inspired and informed the plan for a coordinated response in 2020.

The School Council's Survivor Engagement Committee is working with the Recognition Committee to establish a governance framework to best support this initiative in the weeks ahead.

As part of this response, the previous ‘Healing Historical Harm’ webpage has been renamed to be more aptly described as ‘Healing and Hope’ and will be monitored and updated in consultation with the Recognition Committee.

For survivors, for victims of trauma, for those struggling in challenging times - there are options for reaching out and finding support.

You are not alone - you are a valued member of the Geelong Grammar School community - we are thinking of you and we care.

Consider reaching out to one another - call someone that you think may need a chat or some company; this may be another survivor, or someone who might appreciate a connection. The benefits of such acts of kindness should never be underestimated.

 

Support and assistance:

Survivor Liaison Coordinator

Renee Handsaker provides outreach and support for survivors of child sexual abuse at the School. Renee can be contacted by phone on 0432 707 355 or by email: renee@sustainingconversations.com

Renee is a highly skilled practitioner with extensive experience responding to individuals and families who are survivors of abuse and trauma. She specialises in the provision of restorative conferencing, facilitation and mediation. Anyone connected to the School is invited to contact Renee to discuss any matter associated with abuse.

If you are aware of someone who was a survivor of historical child sexual abuse at the School who may not know of this service, you are encouraged to share this with them. By reaching out to our survivors, we wish to offer support to those who have suffered in the past.

Independent Counsellor

The School also continues to provide the services of an independent counsellor, Pauline Ryan. This service is available to those in our community wishing to access counselling or support regarding abuse. Pauline can be contacted directly during business hours by calling 1800 799 139.

Pauline is a therapist who has worked with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse for the past 38 years. During the past 25 years, Pauline has worked as a therapist at a Specialist Unit at the Royal Children’s Hospital with children who have been sexually abused or are displaying harmful sexual behaviours.

Child Safety at Geelong Grammar School today:

Geelong Grammar School has in place a Child Safety Risk Management Strategy and Child Safety Policy and Code of Conduct together with a suite of Policies for broader obligations including Mandatory Reporting in line with the Victorian Child Safety Standards introduced into schools following the learnings of the Betrayal of Trust Inquiry and the Royal Commission.

The School’s current Child Safety Policies can be found on the School website.

In addition, the School has partnered with dutyof.Care. This allows the School to conduct real time Working With Children Checks (WWCC) in order to further safeguard child safety processes. dutyof.Care provides email notifications if a WWCC is due to expire, has expired or has been revoked and has allowed for a move away from internal record keeping to an auditable, permanent record of checks. The School’s partnership with dutyof.Care assists in its continued prioritisation of the safety of all current students.

Information you may find helpful:

Blue Knot Foundation Helpline (formerly Adults Surviving Child Abuse)
The Blue Knot Helpline provides information and short-term counselling nationally via telephone for adult survivors of childhood trauma.
Phone: 1300 657 380
email: helpline@blueknot.org.au
http://www.blueknot.org.au

Beyondblue Support Service - Support. Advice. Action
Information and referral to relevant services for depression and anxiety related matters.
Phone: 1300 22 46 36
http://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/get-immediate-support

Bravehearts
To prevent child sexual assault in our society - to educate, empower and protect.
Phone: 1800 272 831
http://www.bravehearts.org.au

CASA House (Centre Against Sexual Assault)
Phone: 9635 3600
http://www.casahouse.com.au

Carer Gateway
Are you one of the 2.5 million Australians who care for a loved one, friend or neighbour? Find out information about the support services available to you, on the Carer Gateway.
www.carergateway.gov.au

Headspace
Headspace is the National Youth Mental Health Foundation. We help young people who are going through a tough time.
http://www.headspace.org.au/

Lifeline
24-hour telephone counselling service.
Phone: 13 11 14
http://www.lifeline.org.au/