SURVIVOR LIAISON COORDINATOR

The School provides the services of an independent counsellor (Pauline Ryan) and a Survivor Liaison Coordinator (Renee Handsaker) for anyone in our community who would like counselling or support about issues of child sexual abuse and/or historical harm.

The School responded to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by establishing a Recognition Committee, which was chaired by David Moore, President of the Victorian Association of Restorative Justice. A major recommendation of the Recognition Committee was to appoint a Survivor Liaison Coordinator to provide outreach and support survivors of child sexual abuse at the School. Renee Handsaker was appointed by the School in October 2016.

Renee can be contacted by phone on 0432 707 355 or by email on renee@sustainingconversations.com

The role of the Survivor Liaison Coordinator is fourfold:

1. To connect with survivors of historical child sexual abuse, to listen to them and to provide support by arranging counselling with the independent counsellor or other counsellor. To provide restorative engagement for those survivors who would find it supportive.

2. To encourage other survivors of historical child sexual abuse at the School, who have not yet come forward, to contact her so that she can provide guidance and support.

3. To be a point of contact for those who have any concerns about historical child sexual abuse and want to talk to someone about them. If anyone has any concerns about current students, then they should contact the Principal or Vice Principal at the School.

4. To provide support to those former members of staff who were not themselves guilty of any abuse, but who feel anguish that they did not do enough to question what was going on at the time and thus to stop abuse earlier. This was a particular point raised by the Recognition Committee.

Supporting those who have suffered in the past

There may be former students who are survivors of historical child sexual abuse, who have been reluctant to come forward as it has meant having to speak to the School, which they hold responsible for their abuse. By having an independent figure whom they can contact, it is hoped this will encourage them to come forward.

If you are aware of someone who was a survivor of historical child sexual abuse at the School and whom you believe will not know of this service, you are encouraged to share this with them. Only by being able to reach out to all survivors will we ensure that we have offered support those who have suffered in the past.

Renee Handsaker is a highly skilled practitioner with extensive experience responding to individuals and families who are survivors of violence, abuse and trauma. She runs her own consultancy in Melbourne, specialising in the provision of restorative conferencing, facilitation and mediation. She has previously worked with the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce (DART) to facilitate restorative engagement conferences. Any Old Geelong Grammarian is invited to contact Renee if you would like to discuss with her anything to do with abuse, whether of you or of someone you know who was at the School. The letter Renee sent to the known survivors of sexual abuse can be found here (PDF 93.6KB) in which she emphasises her wish to meet and hold a restorative conference. This invitation is open to all OGGs.

The School also continues to provide the services of an independent counsellor (Pauline Ryan) for anyone in our community who would like counselling or support about this issue. Pauline can be contacted directly during business hours by calling 1800 799 139.