P.O. Box 384
(07) 5443 4711
(07) 5443 3550
P.O. Box 512
(07) 5482 7911
(07) 5482 4421
(07) 5499 2096
(07) 5495 1514
• Sexual Violence Awareness Month October 2017
At Laurel House and Laurel Place, the Indigenous Community Liaison Worker provides support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families so that they can access counselling in an environment that is safe and nurturing, and one in which their cultural needs are acknowledged and met to the best of our ability. All clients who attend counselling at our service will be asked if they are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin (refer to Client Information Sheet).
We recognise how difficult it can be to take the first step in seeking help, and we understand that there are sometimes concerns about attending a mainstream counselling service to discuss very personal issues. In an effort to allay some of these concerns, the Liaison Worker is able to conduct home visits on request, to provide information about our Service, and to explain the counselling process. The Liaison Worker is not a Counsellor - there is no pressure to share sensitive information with the Worker at any time – it is up to the individual how much, or how little, they share about the matters for which they are seeking support. It is also a matter of choice to access the support of the Liaison Worker, and it is your right to decline support, or to withhold your information from the Liaison Worker. The Liaison Worker is bound by the same confidentiality conditions as the counsellors.
Once an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is linked in to our Service, the Liaison Worker is able to provide the following:
• Outreach support (home visits)
• Practical support (such as transport in special circumstances)
• In-service advocacy (advocating at the case planning stage; negotiating counselling arrangements as requested by client; etc.)
• Inter-service advocacy (advocating at departmental and stakeholder case discussions; verbal and written support with other agencies, ie: housing, school, Centrelink)
• Ensuring that clients and staff have access to culturally-appropriate resources
• Ensuring that clients are provided with referrals to other Indigenous service-providers where possible and requested
• Ensuring that the professional practice of the service is culturally sensitive and appropriate
Another important role of the Indigenous Community Liaison Worker is networking with the Indigenous communities across the regions where we provide services. By conducting agency visits to Indigenous service-providers, staying in contact with key Indigenous community members and participating in Indigenous community development activities, the Liaison Worker stays informed of what’s going on in the community and what programs are available as referral options for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients. It also provides opportunities to consult with the Indigenous community on the needs of the community – and to improve our service-delivery in line with the feedback we receive.
The Liaison Worker is available from 8.30am to 4.30pm and works 2 days per week in the Maroochydore office, 1 day per week in the Gympie office, and 1 day per week in the Murgon office.
Sexual assault is any kind of sexual activity that occurs without consent. Child sexual assault is when an adult or older person uses their position of trust or power to involve the child in sexual activity. Sexual assault can be violent or non-violent; it can involve touching or non-touching. Sexual assault is a crime and it is against the law. Some examples of sexual assault include:
• Forced or coerced touching, rubbing, kissing or stroking in a sexual way
• Making someone touch them/their genitals in a sexual way; exposure of genitals
• Vaginal or anal penetration by a finger, penis, or object
• Making someone watch pornographic materials/pose for pornographic photos
• Watching, or making suggestive comments when a child undresses or bathes
• Date or acquaintance rape
• Rape in marriage
• Incest (sexual activity by a family member)
• Anyone can experience sexual assault, no matter your age, race, gender, culture etc.
• Perpetrators of sexual assault are usually someone you know, a family member, friend, acquaintance, partner, or someone else you know and trust.
• Although females can be perpetrators, offenders are usually male.
• 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience some kind of sexual assault before 18 years of age.
• Males can also experience sexual assault (by males and females).
• Men who sexually assault males are most often heterosexual (straight).
• Sexual assault does not make you gay.
• Offenders are not usually weird looking strangers but everyday people.
• Sexual assault is more about power and control than sex.
• No one deserves to be sexually assaulted, no matter where they go, what they wear etc.
• Just because you don’t fight or struggle doesn’t mean it’s not sexual assault.
• Just because someone doesn’t say ‘no’ doesn’t mean they mean ‘yes’.
• There are lots of reasons why children don’t tell about sexual assault (like fear of what might happen, not knowing what to say or who to tell, worry that the family might fall apart, fear of retribution, feeling bad about themselves, thinking that they would not be believed).
• Drink Spiking is when someone purposely puts a drug in your drink so they can take advantage of you or sexually assault you.
• The most commonly used drug in drink spiking is extra alcohol.
• There is no excuse for abuse.
• If you are left feeling uncomfortable, unsure or confused then it may not be consent.
• Consent is when both parties mutually and freely agree to sexual activity.
• Consent is when there is NO form of coercion, pressure, force, intimidation or manipulation.
• Consent is when you know and understand what is being asked, and can make an informed decision.
• Consent can be given and taken away at any time (even if you have agreed to sex before or have started to be sexual).
• Giving or refusing consent is a right, getting consent is a responsibility.
• Consent isn’t just the absence of ‘No’. Only ‘yes’ means ‘yes’. If you’re not sure if you have consent ask, never assume.
• Are under the influence of drugs or alcohol (impaired decision making capacity)
• Are asleep on unconscious
• Feel pressured in some way
• Feel that the other person has power over you in any way
• Feel threatened or in fear of harm
• Are subjected to emotional blackmail (eg: ‘if you love me you would do it’)
• Are deceived in some way
Legally, a person under the age of 16 years cannot give consent.
A family member cannot give consent to sexual activity with another family member (this is incest).
• Go to a safe place (maybe the Police, a friend’s place, the hospital).
• Contact someone who could support you.
• Remember that you have the right to make your own decisions and choices about what you need or what happens next.
• You may decide to seek medical attention (to address any injuries, to check regarding STIs or pregnancy, to obtain the ‘morning after’ contraceptive pill, to reassure yourself that you are OK).
• You can decide whether or not you want to report to Police. There are different ways to do this (including Alternative Reporting Options – information is available about this on the QLD Police website). You can decide to report immediately or later on.
• You can decide to have a forensic medical examination, which is a procedure where parts of the body are examined for evidence, if you think that you might want to report to the Police. This is best done within 72 hours of the assault.
• Remember that you have the right to information and support.
• Everyone who experiences sexual assault will go through their own experience, however there are lots of common things felt by many:
• Having all different feelings. Feeling scared, unsafe, lost, confused, angry, distressed, guilty, ashamed, shocked, numb, powerless, alone, feeling bad about yourself in some way.
• Worried to go out, fear of running into the perpetrator, mood changes, loss of confidence.
• Nightmares, sleeping difficulties, thoughts and memories of the assault, things that trigger thoughts and memories, panic and anxiety, depression.
• Difficulties in functioning at school or at work. Difficulties in thinking clearly or in concentrating.
• Changes in relationships and trust.
• Feeling mixed up about the person who did this – especially if it is someone you know, trust, or even love (like a family member, a partner).
• Feeling physically unwell.
• For children, they might be extra clingy, regress to more ‘babyish’ behaviour, show behavioural changes (these can also be signs of other problems, not only sexual assault).
• Listen to them and believe them.
• Help them get to a safe place.
• Give practical support.
• Validate their feelings.
• Give them as much choice and control as possible – don’t take over.
• Don’t tell anyone else about what has happened without seeking permission from person who has experienced assault (unless telling someone else is necessary for person’s safety)
• Tell them that it is not their fault, that the only person to blame is the perpetrator.
• Ask them what they need from you, let them know that you are there for them.
• Encourage them to seek support.
• Respect that they will heal in their own time.
• Don’t make promises you can’t keep, don’t ignore it, don’t blame them or sympathise with the abuser, don’t press for details, don’t expect them to look after your feelings.
• Make sure that you also look after yourself and your needs.
• Counselling with Laurel House and Laurel Place is free and confidential (limits to confidentiality apply when there are safety concerns).
• In counselling you have a right to be believed, to be treated with understanding and respect, to be supported in any decisions you might make, to be provided with accurate information.
• You have the right to decide what you need from counselling, to say as much or as little as you want, to feel comfortable with your counsellor, to talk about any concerns you might have.
• Counselling is about YOU, it is for YOU, and YOU get to choose what is right for YOU.
• Contact our service directly on 5443 4711 (Maroochydore) or 5482 7911 (Gympie and Murgon) for information on the referral process and accessing counselling and support.
• Sometimes we have a short waitlist – you will be advised of this when you contact the service. Clients are prioritised on the basis of need. We endeavour to make an initial appointment with you to discuss your needs as soon as possible.
• You will be provided with information about our service, including client rights and confidentiality, on your initial visit to the service.
• You have the right to information – please feel free to ask any questions or discuss any concerns.
• All of our counsellors are professionally qualified and experienced.
• Generally people attend counselling until they feel that they have resolved the issues that prompted them to seek counselling.
• It is normal to be nervous attending counselling for the first time – please let us know if there is any way we can support you in this. We recognise your courage and determination.
• That you are not to blame, it is not your fault. NO ONE ever asks to be sexually assaulted.
• That you can heal from sexual assault.
• That you have the right to be safe.
• That nothing is so awful that you can’t talk to someone about it.
• That you deserve care and support.
• That there is life after sexual assault.
• It is my right to decide whether, when and with whom I’ll be sexual
• I have the right to trust my own values and decision making about being sexual
• I have the right to be in control of my own sexual experience and to set my own sexual limits
• I have the right to say yes. I have the right to say no.
• I have the right to stop at any time
• I have the right to control touch and sexual contact
• I have the right to stop sexual arousal that feels inappropriate or uncomfortable
• I have the right to say no even if I have been in a long term relationship or marriage and my partner assumes I will agree to sex
• I have a right to say no even if my partner thinks he has the right to sex. No one has the right to sex. I have the right to say what happens with my own body.
• Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 010 120
• Domestic Violence Helpline - Womensline 1800 811 811
• Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
• Parent Line 1300 30 1300
• Living Well (Men’s Sexual Assault Service) 1300 114 397
Laurel House and Laurel Place recognise the importance of offering additional options of support for survivors of recent sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse through the provision of group work programs, and acknowledges the enormous gains which can be made for some women through group work.
Contact us if you would like to talk more with a counsellor as to whether or not a group is right for you and to register your interest for future groups.
Creating Safer Families is s psycho-educational group program which has been developed to assist non-offending parents and all adult caregivers in providing safety for children in their care. The program aims to increase awareness and understanding of child sexual abuse, including potential risk factors and barriers to safety, and assist in the development of strategies to respond to and overcome identified risks and barriers. The program is offered over 4 weeks for two hours per week in addition to an individual pre-group interview and post-group review session. We aim to offer the program several times per year as resources allow. Please contact the service for further information.