City-wide approach to helping Ballarat’s sexual abuse survivors

Some of Ballarat’s most influential leaders and organisations have joined forces in an effort to establish a city-wide support network for survivors of sexual abuse. 

Helping: UFS Dispensaries CEO Lynne McLennan, CAFS' Justin Eastcott with abuse survivor Andrew Collins on Monday. Picture: Kate Healy

Helping: UFS Dispensaries CEO Lynne McLennan, CAFS' Justin Eastcott with abuse survivor Andrew Collins on Monday. Picture: Kate Healy

The group, which convened for the first time on Monday, consisted of representatives from across the Ballarat community including the  business, education and health sectors. 

Group convener and sexual abuse survivor Andrew Collins said the concept had been developed in order to give everyone an avenue to support the city’s survivor community. 

“The idea for looking to the community for support to see what the community can do to provide ongoing help when it’s needed is what we’re focusing on,” Mr Collins said.  “There’s a lot of existing programs out there already, there’s a lot of things that people are offering, and there’s a lot of people that want to offer something, so it’s a matter of just dragging those people together.”

As part of the new framework organisations across the city will be engaged to assist sexual assault survivors in all aspects of life.  Businesses could lend a hand to help complete simple tasks such as gardening, while other professionals may provide legal of medical assistance.   

Other organisations and leaders would be engaged in strengthening frameworks around child protection and education about the signs of sexual abuse. 

UFS Dispensaries chief executive Lynne McLennan said businesses based in Ballarat were typically very generous and wanted to support the initiative.

“As a community we’re very generous and giving...that’s what we do here.” 

The formation comes as the federal government begins its effort to roll out a National Redress Scheme for survivors of sexual abuse. 

Mr Collins said the Ballarat-specific start-up was about addressing the shortfalls in the federal framework.  “The whole community has been hurt by this and this is a way of bringing everybody together and I’d like to think not only could this be used as a model for other communities, but its something we could expand to help anyone who’s vulnerable.”