News from Open Doors Sept 2019

Alison Campbell Rate Executive Director (Hon.)

A lot has been happening at Open Doors since our June newsletter and we thank you for your continuing interest in this work and for your financial support. Your donations ensure our Counselling services continue to be available to those who need us. Our Education work of course is self-funded through our presentation and program sales and the news here is all about the launch of our brand-new Wonder of Living, 2019 video series!

  • “We are delighted with the new videos. Parent feedback from the session is very positive.”
  • “Contemporary, sensitive, great new messaging around body image and internet safety.”
  • “So much better than other sex education material I have seen in schools.”
  • “Is the family in the video real? They look so natural together!!”

These are some of the comments our presenters have received from teachers and parents this term as we have introduced the updated series into our Family Night sessions in primary schools. I do many presentations myself across Melbourne and the Geelong area and it has been wonderful to witness the positive reactions all around. As a small organisation we are privileged to have been able to renew this landmark series once again for the sake of the children in our collective ‘village’ who are growing up in a challenging, and potentially harmful, digital world.

In particular, it’s been wonderful to hear feedback from various dads after the Year 5/6 sessions who are so appreciative of the messages about steering clear of porn and being respectful of others. They don’t want their sons growing up thinking girls are objects and they don’t want their daughters to believe that message either.  With 11 being the average age of first exposure to violent internet porn, more dads need to have these conversations with their children.

We have also produced a companion book for parents to use at home, based on the content of the video series. The Wonder of Living Book, a guide to growing up has chapters covering the development and birth of a baby, the amazing human body and how a baby starts, puberty changes for boys and girls, body image and making safe choices in the digital age. The WOL Book is proving popular with parents who can follow up with their child after the presentation and continue the conversations at home. It can be obtained via our website catalogue.

Our Director of Counselling, Eileen, has a client story to share with you –

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NEWS FROM THE COUNSELLING WING  All identifying details have been changed –

Eileen Carison Director of Counselling

‘Michelle’ was 6 weeks pregnant when she rang Open Doors for assistance. She told the counsellor she was shocked and confused and wished to come in to discuss her situation and explore her options. When she attended her appointment, she told the counsellor that she had initially been very excited when she found out she was pregnant, but this had been short lived when her boyfriend of 12 months suggested abortion. He said that a baby would cramp his style and there was no room in his life for kids.

She felt very disappointed with his response as she hadn’t even thought of abortion as an option.  However, she did say that she felt trapped because she was studying and not working and depended on him for her keep. She said that they lived in a share house and the weekends were generally filled with drug and alcohol fuelled parties. She expressed that this was not the environment into which she wanted to bring a newborn.

The counsellor encouraged Michelle to look critically at her relationship, especially after her partner’s response to her pregnancy. She also asked her to consider what positive support she may be able to access from family and friends to make this baby possible.

When Michelle returned for her second session, she said she was still confused and not yet able to make a decision about her pregnancy. However, she stated that she needed to end her relationship with her partner if her baby was to have a future. This would mean a big change in her lifestyle; cutting herself off from their mutual friends, accessing help from her family and financial help from other sources.

This session was spent exploring options and Michelle left armed with many resources to follow up – housing, finances and other supports and even the possibility of adoption or foster care.

During her next session, Michelle told the counsellor that she had moved out of the share house and was back with her mother who had offered support for her and the baby. She had also been to Centrelink and organised her first hospital appointment.

Although this had solved her accommodation and support dilemmas, she still felt unsettled. She said that she had recently realised what an impact the baby would have on her life and she didn’t know if she would be able to cope with the dramatic changes single motherhood would bring.

The counsellor encouraged her to look at the steps she had already put into motion to secure a future for herself and her baby; i.e. leaving her partner and accessing medical and government support.  As the session progressed, Michelle relaxed and left feeling confident and empowered.

When making a decision about an unplanned pregnancy it is normal for a woman to move backwards and forwards in her feelings regarding the pregnancy. The non-directive pregnancy counsellor walks alongside her, listening to her hopes and fears, validating her feelings, providing information, encouraging her to critically reflect on her situation and ultimately to uncover her own strengths so she is empowered to make choices that reflect her true wishes.

What was evident in Michelle’s case was that her deep desire was to continue with the pregnancy. With the help and support of her counsellor at Open Doors over several sessions, she was able to make this happen despite the challenges she faces.

Michelle contacted us recently to let us know she was happy and that all is going well with her pregnancy. She knows she is always welcome to re-contact if she needs further support or counselling down the track.  EILEEN

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Eileen’s story demonstrates the vital difference effective pregnancy counselling can make to a woman in crisis who feels the walls closing in and sees abortion as her only option. Thanks to your support, her team of volunteer counsellors is able to do this great work. 

Educating about post-abortion grief

In July I was invited to speak at the inaugural Good Summit conference in Melbourne. Good Summit brought together speakers from a wide spectrum of community groups and businesses, some faith based, some not, but all with a common goal to bring more ‘good’ into our world. I shared about the hidden nature of post abortion grief and trauma and how Open Doors is working to reach those women and men who are struggling, usually alone, with the fallout from their abortion. I titled my talk ‘an unpopular trauma’, as that is certainly where it sits on the spectrum of possible traumatic events in a person’s life. Very few people want to talk about it because it attracts reactions like anger, hostility, condemnation and discomfort.

Only yesterday as I began writing this letter, a new client contacted us about an abortion she had had many decades previously, had not spoken about since but had never forgotten about or recovered from.    Incredibly, Open Doors is one of a handful of places in Australia where her story will be listened to and believed and where she will find real help and real hope. With no government funding or corporate sponsorship, we rely on you to continue partnering with us. Thank you for ensuring this work continues.

with our prayers and warm regards,

Alison and all at Open Doors.

Annual report for the Year 2018