Breaking Free - November/December 2023

Looking after yourself over the holiday season

Image of dinner table

As we approach the end of the year we would like to thank everyone who has reached out for support this year. Thank you for the trust you placed in us and for the opportunity you gave us to walk alongside you. We have learnt a lot from each and every one of you and hope that next year and for years into the future, the support we provide and the services we deliver will get better and better.

We know that this time of year can be especially challenging for people who have had the many varied experiences that can cause complex trauma. While others seem to be full of cheer many of us are left with a range of feelings. The reality is that many people find the holiday season challenging. It’s hectic and can be overwhelming, especially for people whose nervous systems are easily triggered into overdrive.

It is important to know that whatever you are feeling is valid and makes sense for you. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard to feel distressed, anxious or alone.

The holiday season often comes with the added load of having to do a range of things that are confronting. From facing crowds, to being alone, to spending time with family members who you choose to see rarely if at all. For some holidays bring reminders of traumatic events.

We are all individuals and find our own way through in different ways. It’s very hard but we get it and if you want to speak with someone about it, we’re here right through the holiday period. Our Blue Knot Helpline operates 365 days a year between the hours of 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT. So please feel free to call 1300 657 380 and speak with one of our trauma counsellors.

And in the meantime, we thought it might be useful to give you some strategies many people living with complex trauma find useful. Please choose as little or as much as you want from them.

Strategies to help you get through the holiday season

What do you need?

Many of us are not great at saying what we need as we are focused on trying to please others. It is hard to say ‘no’, especially for survivors, but you can say ‘no’ and this includes not going to events if you don’t want to. It’s all about setting healthy boundaries for yourself. Healthy boundaries can help you to feel safe and in control of what you do. You may decide to go to some events, but if you do, you can choose to take time out or stay just a short time. Take time just for you, as long and as much as you need, and try to do more of the things that work for you.

What helps you to be grounded?

Do you have strategies that help ground you? Find out more here: If so, have these strategies ready. Whether it’s taking time out to simply look around and see where you are, noting the colours you see, listening to the sounds, or keeping your feet firmly on the floor.

Maybe you find music soothing and can have some ready-to-go or textured objects that you carry with you. Perhaps speaking with someone who may be near you or making a sound to yourself if no one is there. Vocalising puts you in touch with yourself.

Going out into the fresh air or into nature can bring you into the here and now as can splashing cold water on your face. So too can reminding yourself of where you are, how old you are and that you are safe, now and in the present.

And always remember to breathe – in through the nose and out through the mouth down into your belly. It sounds simple but we can all hold our breath without realising it and we do it more when we are overwhelmed or anxious. So slow deep breaths

It helps to plan

While it can be hard for survivors to plan it is a good idea to think about how you will manage in different situations. This sort of planning can help you feel more grounded, less stressed and overwhelmed. It can also help to know what you will do after a particular event. Something you enjoy which will help you feel calm again.

And amid everything try to do the basics – eat well, stay hydrated and rest up when you can. Many survivors have used alcohol or drugs, self-harmed or tried other strategies to numb themselves or limit their distress. It’s hard when stressed not to use these different strategies but planning other ways to cope, small rewards or gentle ways can help you manage this.

What if you’re alone?

Some people choose to be alone a lot of the time while others find themselves alone without choosing it. Being alone provides you with space and an opportunity to do things you might not normally do. Whether it’s going to visit your special place, watching a movie, curling up with a book, making yourself a meal you would not normally make. Whatever it is try and find something just for you. And if you can, plan a day or time with someone from your support network with whom you feel safe and calm. If you have a good friend or sometimes a family member with whom you have a healthy connection, check in with them or make a time to catch up. It can help.

And most of all be kind to you. Holidays are tricky for many people so be gentle on yourself and patient. Often the hardest thing for survivors to do is to be compassionate to themselves. Self-kindness is everything and remember if you do want to reach out Blue Knot is here right through the holidays. Check out our website for resources at or call 1300 657 380 to speak with a counsellor.

National Counselling and Referral Service - Important Announcement

Sadly, the National Counselling and Referral Service is closing on Sunday 31st December 2023.

The National Counselling and Referral Service (NCRS) operated by Blue Knot Foundation is closing. The last day of the service will be Sunday 31st December and we are so sorry this is happening. It is not what we want, and we understand how difficult this may be for many of our callers. At the end of this article, we provide some other options we hope will provide you with the support you need after 31st December 2023.

Why is the service closing?

The NCRS was set up to support people engaging with or impacted by the Disability Royal Commission. It is closing because the Disability Royal Commission has ended and funding is also ending.

To everyone who contributed to the Royal Commission, a very big thank you goes to you for your role in improving the lives of all people with disability. There have already been some early changes as a result of your courage, persistence and determination.

What about the Royal Commission?

The Disability Royal Commission ran for 4 ½ years, with hearings conducted across all States and Territories. It heard from close to 10,000 people – received close to 8,000 submissions, held 1,785 private sessions and published 14 Issues papers. The Commission listened and heard and as a result made 222 recommendations and those recommendations are sitting with government.

The Commission’s final report sets out a vision for a more inclusive Australia for the one in six Australians living with disability, in which people with disability live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation; where human rights are protected; and individuals live with dignity, equality and respect; and can fulfil their potential.

It was the culmination of disability advocates, people with disability, their families and carers fighting to have their experiences listened to and their rights upheld.

The final report issued 222 recommendations in 12 volumes, and a staged and thoughtful response will be required.

To immediately begin work on responding to appropriately triaging the report’s recommendations, the Government has established a Commonwealth Disability Royal Commission Taskforce to work across departments and agencies to coordinate the Australian Government’s response to the recommendations, engaging closely with the disability community.

National Counselling and Referral Service

It has been a privilege for Blue Knot to operate the NCRS. Not only have we been grateful for the way in which people from the disability community have engaged with us, but we have been incredibly moved by the ways in which our callers have responded to our support.

Not only have we had the privilege of supporting people with disability with trauma experiences, but we have also provided counselling sessions to inmates in Correctional Centres around the country. A big thank you to everyone who has opened their hearts to provide some of the most meaningful feedback we have ever received. Rest assured that we will continue to reflect on the difference we have been able to make in this short time.

We understand that this service ending will affect many of you, our callers, especially those of you who have found the emotional support provided by our counselling team invaluable. We are just so sad that we won’t be able to continue to provide this support through the NCRS service beyond December 31st.

How many callers has the NCRS supported and in what way?

As at 31st October 2023, the NCRS had supported over 8,000 individual clients. Because many callers to the service chose to remain anonymous, we supported far more people than this but are unable to provide the exact number of clients we did support.

While the vast majority of people engaging with the service are people with disability with experiences of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, some are carers, support workers, advocates, health practitioners and agencies.

Up to 31st October we provided 43,568 Occasions of Service which included 17,728 counselling calls and 4,840 referrals. Since February 2012, a large part of our work has been supporting inmates in Correctional Centres nationally. During this time, we have provided 2,883 booked counselling sessions of up to 45-50 minutes to 856 inmates, from 4,893 booked sessions.

It is challenging to deliver services into Correctional Centres and many are cancelled for one reason or another. However, the booked sessions have been some of the most significant work our counsellors feel they have undertaken. This is matched by the feedback we have received from inmates and the testimonials we are collecting.

There is little doubt that there is an enormous need for a trauma-informed counselling service in Correctional Centres, evidenced by the rapid growth in the number of interactions from 200-300 a month growing to 800-1000 per month. As the service draws to an end, we continue to collect invaluable data from our Correctional Centre work which will inform an Evaluation of the service in partnership with the University of Queensland. We anticipate the release of the Evaluation Report in the first half of 2024.

Where can you find support after 31st December?

We know that our callers will find it hard that the NCRS will not be able to provide support after Sunday 31st December, but there are other options.

If you do want to speak to a trauma counsellor, you can call the Blue Knot Helpline on 1300 657 380 AEST/AEDT. This service is for people with experiences of childhood trauma and operates 9am-5pm x 7 days/week.

If you are in crisis or need urgent support, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you live with disability, you can find more services and information at the Disability Gateway via or call
1800 643 787 between 8 am and 8 pm AEST/AEDT Monday to Friday.

Help raise money for Blue Knot Foundation while you shop

Blue Knot Foundation has partnered with Doing Good Rewards, a platform that helps charities raise money while you save money on your shopping.  Just by registering, you can save at over 150 retailers, and at the same time help Blue Knot Foundation raise funds to help empower adult survivors of complex trauma.

So how does it work?

Sign up here , register your Visa, Eftpos or Mastercard and get automatic discounts of up to 25% at local merchants and over 150 online retailers. A proportion of your saving is passed on to Blue Knot Foundation as a tax deductible donation.  You don’t have to show your card and you don’t have to give extra dollars!  Not only will you save money on your transaction, you will also be donating part of your saving to Blue Knot Foundation just by shopping as you do now.

We thank you for your support!

Redress - A Contribution from Casey Chandler

White Candle on Black Round Holder

I read the newspaperweb
I listen to the radiopod
I see the TVstream

I hear apologies to babies
pulled from their mothers and passed on
by a destitute postwar morality.
To the mothers, emptied of the right
to struggle with a child
by a state with no mercy.

I read apologies
blessed apologies
powerful apologies.
I weep for them.
But I know there’s no sorry for us.

I read judgments, words
shot from benches in quiet, seething rooms.
Pointing the justice bone
at men of the cloth, stained
with viscera, postwar guilt, bile
and desire (for what?)

I read judgments
blessed judgments
Raging judgments.
I weep for the children, lost.
But I know there’s no judgment for us.

I see redress, the rusted gears
of restoration
scrubbed by the wire of truth
and sorrow
clicking together, one by one
as slowly the injured come forth and say
this was me.

I see redress
gentle redress
insufficient but maybe enough.
I weep for them, I wish them healing.
But I know there is no redress for us.

I hear no apology from anyone
who refused to speak
when they saw how a father spoke to his children.

I read no judgment from anyone
no court heard
the story of a handstruck child,
a sibling hiding, silent,
or a daughter, walking
in circles by day at school.

I see no redress for us
whose very family
whose very house
whose very sanctuary
was their greatest threat.
Who had nightmares
in the place of nightmares.
The ones who were good
but never slept.

I weep for us.
Because for us,
the ones who need the most,
something, anything
there is nothing.

    • – Casey Chandler

AGM and Board Update

The Board is welcoming a new Chair, Jillian Harrington, who has been on the Blue Knot board for 2 years. Jillian is a Clinical Psychologist with over 25 years’ experience helping and learning from survivors of complex trauma and supporting the work of colleagues through mentoring and supervision. A graduate and a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Jillian is an experienced Board Director in both corporate and not-for-profit settings.

At the same time as welcoming Jillian we say farewell to Silvio Del Vecchio who is stepping down from the board and as Chair. We thank Silvio for his commitment to Blue Knot, the Board and the people Blue Knot supports. At the same time Dennis Clark has stepped into the role of Company Secretary.

You can access the Blue Knot Foundation 2022-23 Annual Report here

Holiday Support Hours

Man Having Breakfast

If you would like to speak to one of our counsellors during the holiday period, please call:

Blue Knot Helpline and Redress Support Service on 1300 657 380 Monday – Sunday
between 9am – 5pm AEDT.

Please note that the Blue Knot Office – administration will be closed from 23 December 2023 and will reopen on 8 January 2024