Phoenix Support and Advocacy Service: Empowering Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma

Since 1978, Phoenix Support and Advocacy Service has been at the forefront of support for individuals who have endured child sexual abuse. Over the years, we have shifted our emphasis to concentrate on adult survivors, addressing a significant gap in services within Perth.

A Focused Mission

Louise Lamont, our CEO, highlights the strategic focus of our work:

““There are other services working with children in Perth, but not so many that are working with the adult survivors, so that is the area we focus on.”

Our Comprehensive Support Services

We offer an array of services including psychoeducation to aid survivors in understanding the effects of their trauma and training for professionals to enhance their capabilities in supporting these individuals effectively. The organisation recognises that the impact of childhood sexual abuse extends beyond the individual, often creating ripple effects throughout families and communities.

The Challenges of Disclosure

The ramifications of child sexual abuse are far-reaching and often extend into family dynamics, sometimes for decades. It generally takes survivors about 23 years to disclose their abuse. “When someone discloses, particularly when it’s within a family, it can send shockwaves through the family if no one was aware,” she says. “Then sometimes it can cause divisions in the family, depending on whether the person who disclosed is believed and where the loyalties are within the family. And if they’re financially dependent on the offender, that can also present some challenges.”

Making a Difference

The work at Phoenix, while challenging, is deeply rewarding for the team. Our efforts are often validated through the profound feedback we receive from those we support. Lamont shares, “Many of our clients have expressed that our support marked the first time they felt genuinely seen and understood.” This feedback motivates our team and highlights the essential nature of our work.

Funding is an ongoing challenge

Securing consistent funding is a perennial challenge. The specialised nature of Phoenix’s services can limit access to certain funding sources. Additionally, Lamont highlights a persistent issue: “Over the past decade, we’ve observed a significant discrepancy between the income from government contracts and the necessary increases in employee salaries to keep pace with awards.”

“The other challenge is that contracts are generally for three years with the opportunity for two one-year funding extensions,” she says.

“But we went through a period of about four years of one-year funding extensions and often weren’t told whether we’re going to have further funding until the end of the financial year.”

This impacts the organisation’s ability to forward plan, strategise and retain skilled staff.

Phoenix Support Advocacy Service for Adult Survivors of Childhood Trauma

L-R: Phoenix Support and Advocacy Service CEO Louise Lamont, Accountant Marc Spradbury and Project Manager Jay Bradley.

Employee relations support through CCIWA Membership

The organisation has found valuable support through its membership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA), particularly in navigating complex human resources matters. “The CCIWA’s Employment Law services have been instrumental in helping us develop robust employment contracts and stay informed about changes in awards,” Lamont explains.

The Need for Greater Corporate Support

Looking ahead, Lamont emphasises the need for greater corporate support and community awareness to address the prevalence of childhood sexual abuse in Australia. Recent studies indicate that 28% of Australians have experienced child sexual abuse, underscoring the urgent need for action.

“It’s a difficult topic that many find uncomfortable to discuss,” Lamont acknowledges. “But we can’t afford to ignore it. Our silence only perpetuates the cycle of abuse.”

Continuing Our Mission

Phoenix Support and Advocacy Service continues to welcome community and corporate support in its mission to empower survivors and advocate for change. As a registered charity, the organisation relies on the generosity of donors to sustain its vital work.

For those seeking support related to childhood sexual abuse, Phoenix can be contacted at 08 9443 1910. Alternatively, the national sexual violence helpline, 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), is available for all matters related to sexual violence.

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