Meet Blue Knot’s patron, Thomas Keneally and our Ambassadors – Jane Caro, Chrissie Foster, Rose Parker, Peter Fox, Rida Aleem Kahn and Damien Rider. We thank them for their commitment in helping us to help survivors heal.
Patron and Ambassadors
Thomas Keneally AO
Thomas Keneally is one of Australia’s most successful modern writers with an impressive twenty-seven fiction and ten non-fiction published titles. He has been short-listed for the Booker Prize on 4 occasions, winning it for the novel, Schindler’s Ark which was made into the Oscar winning film ‘Schindlers List’ by Stephen Spielberg. Mr. Keneally has won the Miles Franklin award twice and was awarded an Order of Australia in 1983 for services to Australian literature. His most recent book, released just before his 74th birthday, is the first volume of a three-volume history of Australia entitled ‘Australians: Origins to Eureka’, was launched by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in 2010.
Mr. Keneally published his first book in 1964 after leaving a Sydney seminary where he was studying for the priesthood. This decision was in part due to becoming disillusioned with his churches’ response to child abuse allegations, where he felt the views of lawyers were given preference over a compassionate response.
It is this commitment to compassion, and to telling untold stories about Australians whose lives represent a significant aspect our community history that drew him to support Blue Knot Foundation.
With numbers greater than two million in Australia, yet little visibility, the realities of life for adult survivors of child abuse remain obscure to most in our community.
Blue Knot Foundation is proud to have the support of one of our most eloquent Australians, an Australian living treasure to help break the conspiracy of silence around abuse – and create greater awareness, understanding and support for adult survivors within our community. In accepting his Blue Knot Foundation role Mr. Keneally said he was extremely honoured to be a patron of such a key charity. We are absolutely delighted that he has taken on the role.
Social commentator, Writer and Lecturer
“Like many Australians I have been appalled by the personal stories of many trauma and abuse survivors. The injustice of their experiences and the ongoing effect of such abuse robs people of the sort of life most of the rest of us just expect to live in this prosperous community. That’s why I’m happy to support Blue Knot Foundation and its work to help trauma survivors live better lives. In what is still a society of haves and have-nots, the long-term effects of such trauma are all around us. Many of those we see struggling and who we are so quick to judge and dismiss are the very people Blue Knot Foundation is seeking to help.”
Jane Caro is an author, novelist, lecturer, mentor, social commentator, columnist, workshop facilitator, speaker, broadcaster and award winning advertising writer. The common thread running through her career is a delight in words and a talent for using them to connect with other people.
Today, she runs her own communications consultancy and lectures in Advertising Creative at The School of Communication Arts at UWS.
She has published four books; “The Stupid Country: How Australia is Dismantling Public Education” co-authored with Chris Bonnor (New South 2007), “The F Word. How we learned to swear by feminism” co-authored with Catherine Fox (New South, 2008) “Just a Girl” her first novel (UQP, 2011) and “What Makes a Good School?” co-authored with Chris Bonnor (New South, 2012). Her new book “For God’s Sake! An atheist, Christian, Jew and Muslim battle it out” co-authored with Antony Lowenstein, Simon Smart and Rachel Woodlock, was published in 2013 by Pan MacMillan.
She is sought after as a speaker, MC and workshop facilitator by a wide range of organisations, in both the public and private sectors.
She is a weekly regular on Channel 7 Weekend Sunrise and Mornings on Channel 9. She has appeared frequently on ABC’s Q&A, Sunrise, The Project, The Drum and Playbox. She is also a regular panellist on the ABC’s top-rating show on advertising “The Gruen Transfer.”
She is a regular on radio and has filled in as host for RN’s iconic “Life Matters”. She remains in high demand by advertising agencies as a freelance writer and her advertising work has won many national and international advertising awards including Cannes, AWARD, London International, ATV, Asia Pacific, One Show, Mobius, Kinsale, and Caxton.
She is the only woman to have been Chair of Judges of AWARD (Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association) and both Adelaide and Brisbane Art Directors Awards.
She has a BA in English Literature from Macquarie University. She writes a regular column in Mt Magazine and contributes articles and oped’s regularly to The SMH, The Drum, The Conversation, Mamamia, The Hoopla and New Matilda. She mentors young businesspeople through McCarthy Mentoring. She is on the Boards of Bell Shakespeare and the NSW Public Education Foundation. She is also the mother of two daughters, a wife, a beef producer and a timber grower.
Advocate for survivors of childhood trauma
Anthony and Christine Foster’s daughters, Emma and Katie, were raped by Melbourne priest, Father Kevin O’Donnell when they were in primary school.
Early in 2008, Emma Foster died of a medication overdose at the age of 26. Katie had become a binge drinker as a result of her abuse and was hit by a drunk driver in 1999. She was left physically and mentally disabled, requiring 24-hour care.
Anthony and Christine Foster and their three girls, Emma, Katie and Aimee have experienced the horrific impact of childhood abuse first-hand. Now they are doing whatever they can to ensure that the lid is lifted on child abuse and that children just like their daughters are kept safe. We welcome them as Blue Knot Foundation Ambassadors.
The Blue Knot Foundation community was devastated to hear of the untimely passing of Anthony Foster, whose contribution to survivors everywhere is immeasurable. Our hearts go out to Chrissie and her family. The following obituary by Judy Courtin pays tribute to Anthony, a tireless fighter for truth and justice.
Blue Knot heartily congratulates Chrissie Foster, Blue Knot ambassador and Peter McClellan, chair of Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse for being awarded the top Human Rights medalSee the award presented here
By Christine Foster on accepting Blue Knot Foundation’s offer to become Ambassadors…
Anthony and I joined Blue Knot Foundation as a family early in 1997 after learning that our eldest daughter Emma, had been sexually assaulted during her early years in primary school. We later learned that our second daughter Katie was also sexually assaulted under the same circumstances. The offender, our parish priest was sentenced in 1995 to 39 months imprisonment for offences against other children, 10 boys and 2 girls, from 1946 to 1977. The offences against our daughters and other children in our parish occurred in the 1980s, showing he was molesting and raping during almost the whole of his 50 years in the priesthood. Unfortunately there are many other stories like ours.
Our time since Emma first disclosed early in 1996 has been a tough and heartbreaking period. Katie was hit by a car while intoxicated in 1999, spent a year in hospital and now almost 10 years later still receives 24 hour care. Emma died in January this year from a medication overdose after battling a myriad of demons including eating disorders, drug addiction, self harm and low self esteem.
Emma often attended Blue Knot Foundation’s meetings in Melbourne and received much needed help and encouragement from other members. I would read the Blue Knot Foundation newsletters and be encouraged by other people’s stories and poetry. Two Blue Knot Foundation members kindly attended Emma’s funeral. Donations to Blue Knot Foundation instead of flowers were requested and out of that grew the idea for the Emma Foster Memorial Fund. Part of the fundraising effort was Run For Emma in the City2Surf run with a Blue Knot Foundation team, Silvio and Lisa Del Vecchio and Macquarie Group Foundation – an amazing achievement. The fund was launched September at the Joker’s Wild Night with another amazingly generous fund raiser. All to help current and future survivors.
We have to break the cycle, speak the secret, oppose the silence and help the victims.
July saw us return 2 weeks early from a holiday in Scotland. It was a knee jerk reaction to events in Sydney with the visit of the Pope. Our aim was to achieve better treatment for child victims of clergy sexual assault via our family’s story and experience with the Roman Catholic Church. We expressed our “old wounds”. I suppose the rest is history, as they say. Since then I have heard through various sources of the spike in survivors of clergy sexual assaults coming forward with their stories, in particular a 76 year old and an 83 year old speaking for the first time of what they endured as children. After having lifetime difficulties they have finally spoken and our dear wish is that they, and all survivors, have peace and healing.
We were heartened to see our actions empower a large number of silent victims to become survivors by being able to tell their stories.
The support we have received from Blue Knot Foundation has been amazing and has helped us through a very tough time and continues to do so. We look forward to a positive and productive future with Blue Knot Foundation.
Rose Parker is an Occupational Therapist who has worked in private practice for over 25 years, in the area of chronic pain management.
She has been instrumental in establishing some of the first interdisciplinary private practice clinics in Western Australia that provide comprehensive and coordinated allied health services to people living with persistent pain syndromes using a model that combines physical and psychological recovery.
She is a singer, songwriter guitarist who has recorded 4 albums with The Velvet Janes, and toured Australia and the USA in the folk and blues scene, clubs and festivals.
In 2004 she was the composer in residence for The Deckchair Theatre Company, composing and performing the songs and music for an original play entitled… Hysteria….a story of women and mental illness.
She is a survivor of childhood trauma, abuse and neglect, being placed in institutional care at the age of 3 and remaining in the care of the state until the age of 18.
She lived in 2 children’s homes and 4 foster homes due to her mother’s severe mental illness and her father’s chronic alcoholism She was guest speaker and singer at the launch of the Child Abuse and Mental Health Action Group in 2002 and gave evidence at the 2003 Senate Inquiry into the incidence of abuse in state run organisations which was then used to launch the redress scheme in the state of WA providing compensation to over 10000 survivors in 2010/11.
She continues to speak and sing to educate and raise awareness regarding recovery and survival beyond abuse and neglect She speaks to foster parents, runs music and singing workshops for children in foster care, and speaks at allied health conferences and consults for DCP Her songs create powerful images of the long journey home
She resides in Perth Western Australia with her husband and son and a high maintenance Burmese cat.
Detective Chief Inspector
Peter Fox grew up the eldest of four children in a housing commission suburb in Sydney’s west. In 1978, at the age 18 he joined the NSW Police Force. His first posting was to Central Police Station. The following year he began training as a detective before postings to Fairfield and Newtown.
In 1983, after five years in Sydney he transferred to Cessnock. He has remained in the Hunter Valley ever since. He met his wife there and they married in 1985 and have raised two sons and a daughter. After moves to the Hunter Drug Unit and Singleton Peter was promoted to Detective Sergeant in 1993. During the next 14 years he led investigations into significant murders and other serious crime which took him to China and other parts of Asia. A number of those investigations were featured on television programmes like Forensic Investigators and Gangs of Oz. Author John Sutor-Linton based his 2006 true crime novel ‘Murder at Anna Bay’ on Peter Fox’s investigation into the brutal bashing murder of Judith Brown in 2002.
Peter provided presentations at Sydney Universities and Forensic Science Faculties. He also gave presentations on investigation and interviewing techniques to various courses at the Goulburn Police Academy.
In 2007 after 28 continuous years at the coal-face of criminal investigation he was promoted to Detective Chief Inspector. Peter spent brief periods at Maitland and Newcastle before taking up the position of Crime Manager at Port Stephens in late 2008.
Over the years he has been vigorous in his investigation of police accused of departmental and criminal offences and this has included criminally charging some with sexual and assault related offences. Peter’s view is that, despite policies and public rhetoric in support of such endeavours, the NSW Police culture isn’t as accepting.
Peter has been the subject of criticism and some ostracism, and Peter feels this is related to his ‘straight down the middle’ attitude. This culminated in his speaking out on police conduct with respect to child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in 2012 with his letter to the NSW Premier and appearances on the ABC in November 2012.
Following on Peter’s appearance on Lateline in November 2012, the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard called a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Assault, which has seen thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse in a diversity of institutions come forward and speak out. Detective Chief Inspector Fox is the recipient of the Blue Knot Award 2013.
Rida Aleem Khan
Youth Chair for the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA)
Rida Aleem Khan is a Multicultural & Youth Advocate and is the recipient of 2018 Sir John Monash High Commendation Award for Youth Leadership. She has worked with multiple community organisations for migrants, refugees and youth. And coming from rural Victoria, feels we need more participation of rural women. Rida is the current Youth Chair for the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia (FECCA) and has been a Youth Ambassador of Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) and Centre for Culture, Ethnicity & Health (CEH). For more information on Rida’s work, visit her website: https://ridaaleemkhan.com/
“It is extremely exciting to become an Ambassador of the Blue Knot Foundation that has a legacy of helping adult survivors recover from childhood trauma, especially child sexual abuse that leads to complex trauma. I look forward to expanding this Ambassadorship to Multicultural Australia and become the face of the People of Colour (POC) who struggle with childhood trauma.”
Multiple World-Record-Holding Adventure Athlete
We are delighted to welcome Damien Rider as our new Ambassador. Damien is a multiple world-record-holding adventure athlete, author, creator of One Breath Meditation, and global motivational speaker. Recognised for his International humanitarian work and physical feats, with two National Geographic feature documentaries, and as a speaker in TED talks Asia Pacific and the United States.
Damien was the featured baton-bearer during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. He was also invited to be a keynote speaker for the Royal Commission for his work on raising awareness on Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. His work and dedication have led him to become a globally respected wellness and mindset coach.
Always finding the positive in every situation in life, he has an undeniable resilience to keep moving forward. He continues to challenge himself, discovering what is possible mentally and physically, sharing his discoveries with others
Damien has his own lived experience of childhood trauma and abuse and his unique and inspirational path to healing and resilience. He has come on board as a Blue Knot Ambassador combining his passion for supporting people with experiences of complex trauma and possibilities for healing and recovery with his drive to challenge what is possible.