Professor Caroline Taylor (Founder and Chair of Children of Phoenix) comments about an unfolding vision:
“Prof. Caroline Taylor harboured a private dream. Having survived long term sexual and physical violence, described by one judge as the worst case of abuse they had come across in their time on the bench, Caroline had to rebuild a new life with no family support or connections and with very little formal education.
Determined to rebuild a life on her own terms, Caroline set out on her journey, and entering university education as a mature age student. Achieving stunning success in her educational pursuits Caroline went on to do a PhD that won a national award and produce two highly acclaimed and influential internationally published books.
Acutely aware of the traumatic impact of childhood sexual violence Caroline was increasingly aware that so many child and adult survivors of sexual abuse had their healing and recovery compromised by a lack of meaningful access and connection to knowledge and personal development.
Education – all types and at all levels – not only improves our life chances and our life choices, but enables us to sculpt and create new landscapes and new vistas that widen our own horizons; allow us to achieve our dreams; to have knowledge for greater, more informed choices, and; to rebuild a life on our terms and not those forced upon us through the actions of an abuser and associated trauma.
From her own experiences of rebuilding a life and the role education played in enabling a deeper level of personal growth and development, Caroline dreamed of developing a foundation that would provide tangible and supported pathways to education for children and adults affected by childhood sexual violence. A foundation that assisted survivors to remain connected to education, to improve their access to educational, vocational and personal skill development; to assist adult survivors re-access education at all levels where their education had been disrupted and compromised or even denied them, as a consequence of sexual abuse.
In 2004 Prof. Taylor’s dream was realised to found a Foundation that assists making the dreams of survivors a reality. A small number of dedicated members began to fundraise and provide small amounts of money to survivors to create educational pathways. From the start Prof. Taylor knew what she would call the Foundation: Children of Phoenix. Caroline worked closely with Carol Trusler, CoP co-founder to generate funds to assist local children and adults create their own pathways with the assistance of Children of Phoenix.
Prof. Taylor said the title “is in recognition of the magical and poignant legend of the phoenix which renewed and resurrected itself from its own ashes – that from the ashes of destruction, that same life rises to make life anew – the phoenix is a symbol that honours the triumph of the human spirit that epitomise survivors everywhere.”
And, in addition, the tears shed from the phoenix are able to heal the deepest of wounds – and for Caroline, survivors are themselves, wounded healers who, despite their suffering, undertake complex and courageous journeys to not simply heal themselves, but to give support and hope to enable the healing of others.
One of the most noble and healing contributions you can make to the life of a survivor is a future because they can be robbed of that…Children of Phoenix is not a charity – it is about change and that is why it is so empowering for survivors and for those who work with, and support the foundation. It represents a deep commitment and passion to providing resources that allow a person to achieve their own potential that is so often hidden or compromised as a consequence of abuse”
To date Children of Phoenix has assisted a small number of survivors to rebuild assisting with all levels of education from primary school to University; formal and vocational training; or to just learn a new skill that realises a dream and gives confidence. An annual fundraiser supported by Mary Kay and HSU sponsored Charity Golf Day in Melbourne has provided the main fundraising efforts.
With the support of a growing and dedicated number of foundation members and a number of businesses her personal dream is being realised, Children of Phoenix will be able to assist more survivors. A board is in place that has been selected based on skills and professional ability who will complement the Friends of Phoenix, many who have been an incredible support for me and other survivors.
The foundation has an exceptional event calendar planned with both events that Children of Phoenix are managing and events that we are gaining the proceeds from. The Health Services Union is providing outstanding support by sponsoring our annual fundraising day, now in its fourth year and also running a Charity Golf Day.
Thanks to the very kind and generous support of Integra (aka Roadcon) CT Feeling Bear was developed in 2008 and launched in December 2008. The bear is another dream of Prof. Taylor’s and will provide an important communication tool about feelings and emotions between children and their parents and carers.
The foundation has great expertise among many of its members. In 2007, two of our founding members, and another volunteer, provided a specialist workshop for teenage girls staying in Secure Welfare Accommodation in Melbourne. These members gave generously of their expertise and time in the area of life education connected to teenage pregnancy. The workshop was a brilliant success with staff at Secure Welfare making explicit the tremendous impact the workshop had for all the girls involved. Please read about this wonderful workshop provided by Carol Trusler, Jo Braybrook and Coral on our website. In addition to this workshop the foundation has also provided a donation of $1500 for the continuation of art therapy courses for children and adolescents in Secure Welfare. More recently, the foundation has purchased and donated to Secure Welfare a lifelike doll. The doll is valued at $1800 and is specially programmed so that it behaves like a real baby – with specific and special needs so that teenagers given the doll develop a full appreciation of the care needs of a baby, and possibly a baby with special needs. The doll assists girls to gain an insight into the responsibility of caring for a baby and the care and nurture that is paramount to a baby’s welfare and healthy development. More news about this donation will be forthcoming on the website.
Police Commissioner Christine Nixon continues to show her support to sexual assault and Children of Phoenix by agreeing to be ambassador for the organisation. In 2005, in The Age newspaper Christine Nixon described Professor Taylor as a “courageous reformer” in recognition of her courage in rebuilding her own personal life and her explicit contribution to law reform and advocacy for children and women. Prof. Taylor has spoken of her profound respect and admiration for Christine Nixon, a fact shared by many many thousands of people, and has said how “moved” she is for the “respect and wonderful support Christine has always shown my professional and voluntary work.”
Caroline is Professor, Foundation Chair of Social Justice at Edith Cowan University in WA and is located in Victoria. She has an international reputation as a scholar and human rights advocate. By invitation she has presented her work and ideas for reform to police and government bodies both in Australia and internationally. The author of several books and numerous scholarly articles and reports she also heads up major national and international funded research grants. She also provides expert evidence in sexual offence proceedings. Outside her professional work, Caroline is passionate and dedicated to the foundation and all that is represents and embodies.
Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes survivors are given wings to fly high, to transform their lives and in doing so help heal the emotional trauma with thanks to the hard work of Children of Phoenix friends, supporters and sponsors.”