Breaking Free – September 2023

Blue Knot Day – Thursday 26 October 2023

Over 5 million adult Australians are impacted by and living with the effects of abuse, neglect, violence and/or exploitation experienced as a child, young person, adult or throughout the lifespan. Wear a Blue Knot to help raise awareness and show that you support us in building our trauma-informed community.

Join us on 26th October for Blue Knot Day, an Australian National Day on which Blue Knot Foundation calls on all Australians to unite in support of the more than 5 million Australian adults who have experienced complex trauma.

Complex trauma refers to repeated ongoing interpersonal trauma and can include abuse, neglect, violence and/or exploitation. It can be experienced during childhood, but also in adulthood, or throughout a person’s lifespan.

Complex trauma, especially from childhood often has multiple impacts including low self-esteem, difficulties with relationships, completing an education, holding down a job, and challenges with mental and physical health. With so many adult Australians impacted, chances are either you or someone you know has been directly affected and have been left trying to manage the ongoing impacts of their trauma on a daily basis. When communities are more trauma-informed and show their support, survivors receive greater understanding and compassion to support their recovery.

How You Can Get Involved and Show Your Support

This Blue Knot Day we are asking you to show your support by wearing a Blue Knot to help raise awareness, and show you are part of our trauma-informed community. Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Wear a blue knot and show you are part of our trauma-informed community.
  • Get creative and make your own blue knot to wear.
  • You can also purchase a blue knot pin or blue knot bracelet from the online Blue Knot shop. All proceeds help Blue Knot in its work in supporting survivors of complex trauma.
  • Hold an event, help raise funds, and share Blue Knot Day resources to help educate the community about being trauma-informed, and build our trauma-informed community.
  • Make a donation to help us support more adult survivors of complex trauma
  • Share our pre-prepared social tiles which can be downloaded
  • And most importantly, show your support, share images of you wearing your blue knot across social media using our hashtags: #BlueKnotDay #BlueKnotFoundation to help spread the message as far as possible.
  • Follow our social media channels by clicking the links below:
  • Go to our Blue Knot Day webpage to view all of the resources that you can share.
  • We also invite you to register and join our webinar: Understanding Complex Trauma and Strategies to Support Yourself.  Details are shown below.

Join our Webinar: Understanding Complex Trauma and Strategies to Support Yourself

This webinar will provide information about the different types of trauma and gives an understanding of complex trauma. It provides information about the need for both physical and emotional safety and this looks different for each person. There is also a focus on the body and brain and how these are impacted by complex trauma, and subsequently, how we function in the world because of trauma experiences. There are some techniques to support regulation and self-care. This webinar is educational. It is not a therapeutic group; it focuses on safety, self-care and support.

Date and Time: Thursday 26 October 2023 AEDT, 12pm to 1pm
Register for Understanding Complex Trauma Webinar

Further information about Blue Knot Day will be shared in the lead up to the day.  Please follow our social media channels for the latest information.

Announcing Board of Inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in Beaumaris Primary School and certain other government schools

Call for Participation

The Board of Inquiry into historical child sexual abuse in Beaumaris Primary School and certain other government schools is now open for submissions and registrations for private sessions until 12 October 2023. However, if you think you may need more time to consider your involvement in this process, please contact the Inquiry.

You can make a submission and/or register for a private session on the Inquiry’s website: or you can call (03) 8301 0102.

The phone line is available for you to speak to a Board of Inquiry staff member if you have any questions, concerns, or would like help with your submission or registration for a private session. Staff members are trained in trauma-informed practice and will provide a safe, compassionate, and confidential space for you.

The Inquiry also welcomes families, friends, loved ones and other supporters of those who experienced abuse to make a submission or register for a private session and share their experiences.

If you are unsure about whether your experiences are within scope, please call the Inquiry to discuss on (03) 8301 0102. All relevant information provided to the Inquiry will be considered, especially from victim-survivors of historical child sexual abuse.

Disability Royal Commission Reports

The final report and recommendations of the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability have been made public and tabled with government. There were 222 recommendations on how to improve laws, policies, structures and practices to ensure a more inclusive and just society that supports the independence of people with disability and their right to live free from violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The Final Report consists of 12 Volumes plus an additional introductory volume, which includes the Chair’s foreword, our vision for an inclusive Australia, an executive summary and the full list of recommendations.

The Royal Commission has also published A brief Guide to the Final Report. This guide explains how information is organised in the Final report. It is for a broad audience including people with disability, their families and carers, other members of the Australian community, disability advocates, service providers and people looking to quickly find the information they need.

Additionally, the Royal Commission has published a brochure called Listening to First Nations people with disability. This brochure describes what we heard from First Nations people with disability and their families and communities about the issues and challenges they face. It also describes some of the changes needed to create an Australia where First Nations people with disability are included.

To read the full report or peruse the different volumes go to Final Report | Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability

National Counselling and Referral Service
1800 421 468
Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm AEDT
Saturday, Sunday and Public Holidays: 9am – 5pm AEDT

If you live with disability, or are supporting someone living with disability who has experienced violence, abuse, neglect or exploitation, and need support please call or contact the National Counselling and Referral Service.
This service is available until 31st December 2023

Unveiling the Complex Link Between Childhood Trauma and Mental Health

Pondering man with black coffee resting in countryside house

Recognising the intricate relationship between childhood trauma and mental health requires addressing misconceptions, and embracing a nuanced understanding. As the President of the Blue Knot Foundation, Australia’s National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma, I’ve witnessed the profound impact that acknowledging this connection can have on people seeking support.

A recent article on the harmful depression myths Ian Hickie wants busted, underscores the urgency of grasping this intricate interplay.

One of the proposed misconceptions addressed in the piece is the notion that all depression is connected to childhood trauma. It states that ‘the idea childhood trauma is the root cause of mental health issues leads people to place heavy emphasis on the cause of the depression, rather than the path out of it’.

It’s evident that not all cases of depression can be attributed to childhood trauma. However, there’s little doubt that a significant proportion of individuals grappling with anxiety, depression, and mental health diagnoses have experienced childhood trauma. Let’s delve deeper into this connection.

Insights from the Australian Child Maltreatment Study:

The groundbreaking Australian Child Maltreatment Study, involving 8,503 randomly selected Australians aged 16-65, found that Australians who endured maltreatment as children were 2.8 times more likely to experience a mental disorder in their lifetime.

It revealed those who experienced childhood maltreatment were 3.2 times more likely to have had a major depressive disorder and were also 3.1 times more likely to have a current generalised anxiety disorder.

Disturbingly, in the last 12 months, individuals experiencing child maltreatment are 2.4 times more likely to have been admitted to the hospital for a mental disorder and are 2.4 times as likely to have seen a psychiatrist.

Rejecting Dichotomies:

In our quest for understanding and support, it is counterproductive to cling to ‘all or nothing’ dichotomies. Recognising the trauma underpinning many mental health presentations does not negate the possibility of recovery. Instead, it offers context and insight into the origins of particular vulnerabilities and sensitivities.

So what does this all mean? We must adopt a holistic approach to recovery.

We must move away from the ‘either or’ mindset and embrace a more integrated approach that acknowledges the role of trauma histories in mental distress. By combining psychosocial and medical perspectives, we can pave the way for holistic recovery. The reality is that with the right support and approaches, recovery is absolutely possible

This approach includes some or all of the below:

  1. Trauma-Informed therapeutic approach: A trauma-informed therapeutic approach, which supports a felt sense of safety and grounding in the first instance, trauma processing as and when appropriate, and finding a place in the world of meaning and connection, when able.
  2. Utilising Various Therapies: Drawing from a diverse range of therapeutic and experiential approaches which suit different people with their unique needs.
  3. Considering Medication: Evaluating the potential role of medication as part of the treatment plan.
  4. Developing Emotional Regulation Skills: Empowering individuals to enhance their emotional regulation abilities.
  5. Self-Care: Encouraging self-care practices that contribute to overall wellbeing.
  6. Leveraging Support Networks: Harnessing a range of supports and resources to aid in the recovery journey.

Let’s continue to work together to break down myths and misconceptions surrounding mental health and trauma, fostering a more compassionate and informed society.

Dr. Cathy Kezelman, AM President Blue Knot Foundation

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