CHILDREN of Phoenix does not believe in giving hand-outs – it wants to give hand-ups.
The Ballarat organisation is about to open its annual education scholarships for sexually abused children, or adults abused as children.
Children of Phoenix Foundation chairwoman Professor Caroline Taylor said previous scholarship holders had gone on to become amazing success stories.
“The ability to access education is extremely important for life chances,” Professor Taylor said.
“Education has often been severely compromised for a lot of victims (and) that affects self-esteem, recovery and identity.”
The scholarships cover most educational costs for primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary education.
Professor Taylor said community support however was needed to help provide the scholarships, with nearly $50,000 donated in the past five years. She said organisations would receive scholarship naming rights, but needed to commit for three years to ensure educational continuity.
“The most rewarding thing is it’s not charity, it’s not a hand-out. It’s a hand-up.”
All proceeds from the sale of CT Feeling Bears also go towards the scholarships, with each bear valued at $25.
The bears, with interchangeable velcro hearts, were designed by children.
Children of Phoenix will also hold a Reclaiming Our City awareness walk at Lake Wendouree at 1pm today, starting at the Olympic Rings.
“It’s a symbolic gesture to victims of child sexual abuse that they have understanding and support.”
Professor Taylor said she had recently finished a five-year research project – the largest undertaken in Australia – which showed the community was a barrier for victims in both disclosing the offence and getting help.
“There are consequences and costs of victims speaking out. They are exiled from their own lives,” she said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the scholarships, buy a bear or get scholarship information can go to www.childrenofphoenix.org.