I’m Corinne. I’ve been working in education for 16 years, so I’ve supported hundreds of students experiencing complex issues including sexual and family violence. In my early twenties I also had a close friend who experienced sexual violence, then was re-traumatised by court processes. That experience spread throughout my friendship group like wildfire, so the next time one of our friends was assaulted she didn’t seek justice.
In my time working in higher education I’ve had training from amazing organisations like Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia and the Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors Support Centre. This training highlighted statistics and data, expanding on the key facts with emotive survivor stories. I learnt that the experiences of my students and friends are not uncommon. These organisations also taught me that compassion is imperative to healing trauma.
Recently I’ve been part of a working party at my institution, charged with implementing an action plan and recommendations that emerged from the Australian Human Rights Commission’s report into sexual assault and harassment on Australian campuses. Alongside expert academics, practitioners and many smart and hardworking people we’ve brought in trauma-informed response procedures, communication and awareness campaigns to encourage people to report, and training to activate students as cultural change agents and staff in appropriate, compassionate responses to disclosures.
Then, on the morning of the 2nd of February 2020, I read an ABC news article called Rough Justice. I felt incredibly angry and sad as I saw the data and read the survivor stories. I realised that for all the hard work we were doing at my institution to bring about change, we were ultimately relying on Queensland police training and procedures—and Queensland laws—that are disempowering and re-traumatising survivors.
I’m not here to bash the police, judges or justice staff.
I know they are hard working humans whose purpose is to keep our communities safe. That’s why I asked my friends and networks to help create Believe Queensland Women. I truly believe in the best intentions of Queensland police and I believe in the capacity of all humans to grown, learn and change.
And you know what’s amazing? When I asked for help, people said yes. They treated me like a grown up and believed me when I said this is an important issue that deserves attention. Humans are bloody amazing.
So thank you to everyone who has patiently listened to me and encouraged me, asked questions to help clarify my thinking and goals, helped with logo design, and said yes to engaging in uncomfortable conversations with your friends and family to help encourage others to write to the Premier and Minister for Police too.
And to those of you for whom it’s not safe to share the Believe Queensland Women message yet, please know we are working hard to change that. We believe you. We believe in you.
Unfortunately, Believe Queensland Women is not able to provide counselling, accommodation, financial support or legal advice to survivors. We know how necessary that practical help is in making life better, so check out this list of boss services that can help.
Who knows what the future holds for Believe Queensland Women? From little things big things grow.
In the meantime, please write to the Qld Premier, Minister for Police and Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence. You can find some helpful tips and email text here.