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Australian video taps into American film message

Spotlight: Michael Keaton in a scene from the Academy Award-nominated film about the Boston Globe’s expose of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.AUSTRALIA’S leading organisation supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse and trauma has funded a one-minute video to screen with Academy Award-nominated film Spotlight.
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Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) has funded the 1in4 campaign to show that one in four Australians have suffered childhood trauma, to coincide with Australian screenings of the film about the Boston Globe’s expose of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

ASCA president Dr Cathy Kezelman said it was important for Australians to realise how common childhood trauma is in the community, and the role of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in shining a spotlight on broader abuse in the community.

“ASCA’s professional support line reveals that the majority of abuse occurs in the home, family and neighbourhood, with 65 per cent of abusetaking place within the home,” Dr Kezelman said.

“We also know there has been a perennial shortage of appropriate, affordable services and practitioners to access. The work of the Royal Commission is an enormous step in the right direction and continues to raise awareness of childhood trauma and abuse more broadly.”

ASCA’s 1300 professional support line is taking 5000 calls per year, she said. ASCA hopesthe 1in4 campaign will help it raise funds to continue its work.

“The very presence of the Royal Commission and media reporting around it has really put aspotlighton this issue,” Dr Kezelman said.

“As survivors see others coming forward, seeking help and being heard, it really does encourage them to do so as well. This is why it’s so important for those that do come forward to know there are places that can provide professional help throughout what can be such a difficult journey on the road to recovery, but one that is absolutely possible.

“We’ve seen some response from governments related to the Royal Commission in terms of counseling and psychological care, but we need to see a broader response because when people are abused as a child it can potentially affect every aspect of their functioning at all stages of the life cycle.

“Given the very real probability of recovery, it’s a travesty that in a country like Australia, people are unable to afford or access the right care to give them an opportunity to recover.”

The film Spotlight, and the work of Australia’s royal commission, showed that child sexual abuse was a hidden worldwide epidemic, Dr Kezelman said.

A report released by ASCA in 2015 showed that the impacts of unresolved childhood trauma and abuse in adults costs Australia at least $9.1 billion each year.

Dr Kezelman said the inclusion of “Newcastle, Australia” in Spotlight’s credits, showing towns and cities where institutional child sexual abuse had been revealed, drove home that issues related to clergy abuse were substantial.

“While it’s chilling to see the city’s name appear in the credits following the film, it brings home that institutional child abuse is a global issue that has substantially affected so many local communities. We must all work together to respond.”

Help and support is available from the ASCA professional support line on 1300 657 380, 9am- 5pm Monday-Sunday.

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