Surviving in Exile-Trauma to Recovery

VSS Symposium, held 31st May, National Wine Centre, Adelaide

The VSS SA Symposium gathered representatives from around Australia for the voices of victims of crime and abuse. The purpose of "Surviving in exile" was to share experiences, knowledge, ideas and best practice in Trauma Informed Care.

"I wanted to reach out to you for a few reasons, first being to say congratulations. The day went so well and the coordination of all panellists from around the nation was a feat in itself. I caught up briefly with a few of the Victorian and Brisbane panellists on my way out of the Wine Centre and they noted the event was one of the best they’ve been to. I know this was a common theme amongst attendees. For a non-industry attendee, I gained so much insight, knowledge and information and found the day incredibly interesting." 




   View Program here

Keynote speakers were:

  • Alannah Hill – Fashion Designer, Author and Survivor
  • Dr Cathy Kezelman – Blue Knot Foundation
  • Jeanette Walters – Director, Office for Ageing Well, SA Health
  • Professor Patrick O’Leary – Griffith University
  • Felicity Gerry QC – Carmelite Chambers London

Key topics for discussion included:

  • Autonomy and Elder Abuse
  • Systemic Responses to Domestic Violence and Abuse
  • Memory and Triggers- Childhood Sexual Abuse
  • Invisible Women - Trafficking and Justice

The Symposium was a CPD endorsed event through both the Australian Association of Social Workers and Australian Counselling Association. CPDbanner  

Surviving in Exile – Trauma to Recovery was proudly sponsored by The Office for Ageing Well , Fletchers Lawyers and Bronwyn Killmier, Commissioner for Victims’ Rights


Victim Support Service SA is the leading organisation addressing all aspects of trauma associated with crime and providing a trauma-informed response service. The Symposium aligned with forty years of Victim Support Service advocating for South Australians in providing integrated safety, counselling and justice support services to people impacted by crime and abuse in South Australia.


 Dr. Cathy Kezelman AM is a medical practitioner, mental health consumer advocate,
 President of Blue Knot Foundation National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma,
 and member of the Mental Health Community Advisory Council (NSW).
 She is a current member of NSW Child Safety Standing Committee
 for Survivor and Faith Groups, member of the Advisory Panel of Tzedek.




 Alannah Hill Exclusively represented by Saxton
 Alannah Hill is one of Australia’s most loved fashion designers, and author of the
 bestselling  memoir, Butterfly on a Pin. At the height of her trailblazing success,
 the Alannah Hill brand had sixteen stores nationally and thirty-five David Jones
 concessions, and her ultra-feminine collections were represented in department
 stores and boutiques across the globe, in New York, Singapore, London and Japan.
 Alannah’s ornamental vision is a far cry from her childhood tainted with poverty, fear
 and abuse. One of five kids of neglectful parents, she grew up in a milk bar in the
 deep south of Tasmania. At sixteen, she left that past behind, a nobody travelling alone
 to Melbourne with an impossible dream of becoming a somebody.
 In 2019, Alannah was named Momentum's Wonder Woman of the year.

 More details

LEAD PANELLIST Jeanette Walters


Jeanette Walters is the Director of Office for Ageing Well in SA Health.
She leads the development of social policy and programs that address
the needs and wants of older South Australians and engages them actively
in that process.  - Building neighbourhoods that support activity and independence,
communities that are respectful of their contributions and rights
and responding to the opportunities that an older population brings. 

More details




LEAD PANELLIST Professor Patrick O'Leary


 Professor Patrick O’Leary is an internationally recognised researcher
 with significant expertise in child protection, domestic violence/gender-based
 violence, and the long-term impact of child sexual abuse (especially in men).
 He has worked extensively overseas in low and middle income countries.
 Professor O’Leary was an Expert Academic Advisor to the Royal Commission
 into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse with a particular focus
 on male victims and the long-term effects.
 He is currently a Senior Research Fellow with UNICEF’s Office for Research.









 Felicity Gerry is an international QC at Carmelite Chambers, London  and
 Crockett Chambers, Melbourne, largely defending in serious and complex trials
 and appeals, often with an international element.  She is admitted in England and Wales
 and Australia and has had ad hoc admission in Hong Kong and Gibraltar. 
 She was Legal Personality of the Year 2016 and has been recognised in the Legal 500  
 as a leading silk and as “Fearless and independent minded”. 
 More details 


For additional enquiries contact

Dr. Kezelman worked in medical practice for 20 years, mostly as a GP. Under her stewardship Blue Knot Foundation has grown from a peer support organisation to a national centre of excellence combining a prominent consumer voice with that of researchers, academics and clinicians advocating for socio-political trauma-informed change and informed responsiveness to complex trauma. She is a prominent voice in the media and at conferences, as well as author of a memoir chronicling her journey of recovery from child sexual abuse: Innocence Revisited- a tale in parts.

She is co-author of multiple seminal Blue Knot Foundation documents - Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service DeliveryThe Cost of Unresolved Childhood Trauma and Abuse in Adults in Australia and Trauma and the Law: Applying trauma informed practice to legal and judicial contexts , the Talking about Trauma series and The Truth of Memory and Memory of Truth. On Australia Day 2015 Cathy was awarded an AM "for significant service to community health as a supporter and advocate for survivors of child abuse".

Current work
In 2018, Hardie Grant published Alannah’s bestselling memoir, Butterfly on a Pin. Part rebellious fairytale, part rags-to-riches story, it is also a timely cautionary tale. This fierce and poetic account of how a freckle-faced teenage runaway metamorphosed into a true original reveal how ‘against all odds’ Alannah Hill created one of Australia’s most successful fashion brands from scratch.

Alannah inspires people from all walks of life with her courage, wit and intelligence, and her ability to stare down adversity and find humor in the darkest places. The memoir was also nominated for memoir of the year.

Alannah is currently writing a book titled Pearls of Wisdom: How to go from knowing nothing to everything – Sticky beak Style. The book revolves around ten autobiographical confessions that grapple with emotions that have often overwhelmed Alannah. Resentment, greed, complacency, despair, and teenage rebellious activity are just a few. Veined throughout is the acknowledgment that our failures can elevate us.

Failure can give us a vantage point from which we can help others. Pearls of Wisdom shows how not getting what we want can inspire us to search for new meaning, change and personal growth.

Previous experience
Fashion Designer: After leaving her abusive, poverty-stricken childhood behind, Alannah moved from Tasmania to Melbourne where she unleashed her wild talent for reinvention. Alannah adopted a veneer of fearlessness, embracing the breaking New Wave of 1980s Melbourne, immersed in glamour and make-up. She knew intuitively what women wanted to wear and built an instantly recognizable brand ~ she didn’t want to look like anyone else, but welcomed the army of girls and women who adopted her look. The upstart from Tasmania set the fashion world on fire.

In 2013, after eighteen years, Alannah parted ways with Factory X, her financial backer, sending shock waves through the industry. Unable to use her own name, Alannah understood launching a new fashion label would be problematic. With her typical all-or-nothing drive, and drawing on all her creative forces, she threw herself into writing her story, to call a truce with her own troubled past and offer other ‘unjoined girls’ the glorious hope of reinvention.

In 2015, Alannah launched her new fashion brand LOUISE LOVE online, retailed exclusively through David Jones.

Alannah has also been a stylist for such big names as INXS, Danny Minogue, Kylie Minogue, Debrah Conway, Ross Wilson, Neighbors.

Film: In addition to her work in fashion and entrepreneurship, Alannah has also had multiple film appearances, most notably in U2's Documentary When Love Comes to Town, where she had the privilege of interviewing the band's lead singer Bono and even David Bowie.

Click here for Client Comments about speaker Alannah Hill 

As the Director of Office for Ageing Well, Jeanette is actively involved in the new dementia precinct at the Repat and the CCTV pilot in aged care within SA Health, Jeanette also is interested in exploring new models of aged care that consider resident choice and the meaningful connections that are important to build and maintain - no matter where you live. The newest initiative in Office for Ageing Well is the implementation of the Adult Safeguarding Unit under the new Adult Safeguarding legislation.

Felicity Gerry led the appeal in R v Jogee in the UK Supreme Court which was described by the BBC as a ‘moment of genuine legal history’. She is one of the few women silks to defend in a terrorism trial  and recently led a team of academics and practitioners who were given leave to file an Amicus Curiae Brief in the ICTY Radovan Karadžić Appeal.

She is  Professor of Legal Practice at Deakin University where she lectures in Criminal Law and Modern Slavery and is involved in the clinical programs. She is also an Adjunct Fellow at the University of Western Sydney and Charles Darwin University where she has lectured on International Criminal Law, Transnational Law, Terrorism, Cybercrime, Criminal Law, Evidence Law, Science & Law and Feminist Legal Theory. Her current PhD candidature involves researching Using Technology to Combat Human Trafficking.

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