Moving On: abuse survivors tell the world

Former child victims of institutional abuse are learning to live with their trauma thanks to a unique project combining drama and counselling.

The project was prompted by the 1999 report of the Commission of Inquiry into Abuse of Children in Queensland Institutions. It uses drama to offer a safe environment for survivors of childhood institutional abuse to tell their stories without being traumatised again.

The group will tell their stories with a theatre performance Memoirs of the Forgotten Ones at the Metro Arts Theatre on Friday, March 30 and Saturday, March 31 at 7.30pm.

The performance marks the end of the three-year project – Moving On – a joint initiative of Griffith University and the Aftercare Resource Centre (a program of Relationships Australia).

Project leader Professor Bruce Burton, from Griffith’s Education Faculty, said many of the participants had major life changes since beginning the project in October 2003.

“Some have taken up further study, jobs or volunteer work with other people,” he said.

“Our group has certainly shown much greater self-confidence, self-esteem and ability to take control of their lives — much of which they have attributed to the program.

“Many of the participants wanted to do a major theatrical production to tell the world what’s happened to them and to get a sense of closure.”

Professor Burton said drama had been used for many years as a major therapeutic tool in helping people deal with difficult or traumatic experiences in a safe environment by enabling them to explore their stories through re-enactment.

“But this is the first time that drama has been used in conjunction with counselling to help victims of institutional childhood abuse.”

The project was funded by a $60,000 Australian Research Council Linkage Grant.


MEDIA CONTACT: Arts and Education Communications officer Deborah Marshall 07 3735 5245, 0408 727 734__