Safety and privacy:

Heartfelt House is committed to create a safe, nurturing environment for all survivors, to make it as easy as possible to embark on that journey of healing.
We have a large, well established garden surrounding us, which includes the car park, it gives privacy to anyone coming to Heartfelt House.
On the days when the groups are run, we put strict limitations on who is allowed into the house other than the participants and the team of Heartfelt House. If people are driven to Heartfelt House, we ask them to be dropped off and for the driver to come back at the end of the session.
We are a stand-alone service and not connected to any other services or government bodies and therefore there is no exchange of information.

Confidentiality:

Being sexually abused as a child destroys the natural trust the child had in others; it is of huge importance for survivors to know that what they disclose in the group is kept confidential. Every person working at Heartfelt House has to sign a confidentiality contract and every participant signs a privacy policy before joining the group.
We understand how close knit the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is and how far reaching the influence of the extended family can be. Unless there is risk of harm to an individual, we will not identify participants; eg: facilitators will not acknowledge participants when they meet in a public setting.
We will establish with you before the program starts, who the person is that you turn to for help. We will get your permission to contact this person should you need extra help.
We have received feedback from Aboriginal community workers, that in their experience it I sometimes easier for Aboriginal survivors to come to a mainstream service, as there are no links what-so-ever with community.

Transport:

Heartfelt House is located opposite the TAFE in Wollongbar, on the main bus route between Lismore and Ballina. We have set the time for the group meetings to make it convenient for bus commuters – and the bus stop is situated directly opposite our premises.

Our program ‘Taking the First Steps’:

‘Taking the first Steps’ is an 18-week, structured, group program for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Each week we look at different aspects related to the abuse and explore ways for making positive changes.
Each group has six participants (women only) and a team of three female facilitators. The facilitators in our team have culturally diverse backgrounds.
‘Taking the First Steps’ is also offered to men at the Men and Family Centre in Lismore. The men’s group is facilitated by a man and a woman.

In the words of a group participant:

“I can’t begin to express how I feel about Heartfelt House. I don’t know if my words will ever truly describe what I feel inside about this place. The love, understanding, care, and support is indescribable. The course, the facilitators clearly understood with great insight everything I have ever carried and lived with all my life this felt like love for all the times I was hurting and confused, dying in pain wishing back then after he hurt me that someone would rescue me, it felt like they had finally come.” (Aboriginal survivor)