About the HVSG – Services Offered
When a family member or friend is murdered, the emotional and physical pain is immense. There are no words to describe the range and depth of your feelings and the burden can sometimes seem too much to bear.
It is understandable that you may think no one can comprehend your suffering and it would be true to say that no one can fully appreciate YOUR pain – it is unique to your own experience.
However, our members are people who have been affected by the murder of their loved one too and are therefore able to begin to understand the devastation and sorrow that you may be feeling.
Our members have told us that it has helped to have the opportunity to tell their story, sometimes repeatedly, to others who have been through it too.
The Homicide Victims’ Support Group offers such an opportunity and also offers assistance in the form of our many services.
The Homicide Victims’ Support Group (Aust) Inc. employs five fully qualified Trauma and Bereavement Counsellors to provide a professional service for our members. They offer individual grief counselling in our office, or in your home if it is difficult for you to get to us. They can arrange referral to a counsellor in your area for those living out of the Sydney area. You can also speak with a counsellor over the phone at any time during office hours.
Support meetings are an excellent opportunity for you to meet others who have experienced the death of a loved one through murder. According to a large majority of our members, being able to sit and meet and talk with others in a similar situation to themselves is the most positive and helpful aspect of the group.
Our trauma and bereavement counsellors attend all meetings (except the Ebony House Get Together’s) and offer support and help whenever required. We often invite interesting guest speakers to talk at our meetings and of course, give our members a chance to ask questions.
Meetings are held in our office, in Parramatta and at Waterfall.
Support meetings are also held in the following areas:
- Wollongong / Kiama
- Newcastle / Warners Bay
- Ballina / Byron Bay
- Wagga Wagga
We keep our members informed of upcoming meetings and events via our monthly newsletter. Family members will receive a personal invitation to meetings in their area.
Attending court during a trial is often a stressful time. Support is available to help you understand the Criminal Justice System and court process. It includes explanations of court procedures, etiquette and legal terms.
The level of support you receive during any proceedings will depend on your needs. Someone can be with you in court if necessary.
Before the trial begins it can be helpful to become familiar with some aspects of the courtroom, such as the layout, who will be there, what their roles are, where the offender sits etc.
If you are to be a witness in the trial, there will be support provided by the Witness Assistance Service (WAS), which is part of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Court support may be provided by one of our counsellors or by one of our members who have been through the process themselves.
We also have a booklet called “The Survivor’s Guide to the Criminal Justice System” written specifically for families going through the court process.
24 Hour Support Line
1800 191 777 – Someone is available to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
During office hours, a counsellor will talk with you and after office hours, a volunteer will be available. Volunteers are sometimes counsellors and sometimes, family members who have been through a similar experience and have now trained to help others.
It is important to remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Help is a phone call away, day or night.
A good rule of thumb is, if you are considering whether you need to call – you need to call! This is your service – use it when you need it.
We publish a monthly newsletter to keep our members, particularly those living outside the Sydney area, informed about things happening in the group.
We include articles, items sent in by families, meeting dates and photos and, most importantly,
anniversary and birthday dates of your loved ones.
Contributions of letters, poems and stories are warmly welcomed. Please contact the office if you wish to be put on our mailing list.
The Group has books covering such topics as Grief and Trauma, Family Survival, Children and Grief. All are available for loan.
Ebony And Ivory Houses
The concept of Ebony House came about after Christine Simpson, from her own experiences, identified the need for some kind of ‘recovery’ centre for people affected by the murder of a loved one.
Christine’s vision of this place was that it would be in a quiet, semi-rural environment, far enough away from the scrutiny of the public and press but not too remote as to limit access to those in the Sydney metropolitan area.
After meeting with Christine and Peter Simpson and hearing about the work of the Homicide Victims’ Support Group (Aust) Inc, Premier Bob Carr gave the group the use of two cottages in the grounds of Garrawarra at no cost.
After much hard work from members and friends Mr. Bob Carr, Premier of NSW, officially opened Ebony House on 8th December 1995. The house was named in memory of Ebony Simpson.
The purpose of Ebony House is to give people affected by homicide a place to go when they feel overwhelmed with everyday life.
There are two cottages where families or individuals can stay, the second named Ivory House. There, in beautiful and safe surroundings, families have the opportunity to spend some quiet time alone or with each other.
For many people experiencing the trauma of the death of a loved one through homicide, there is sometimes a need to get away from everyday things – from all the well-meaning people who phone and drop in, from
the media and from all the reminders of the loved one in their homes. It is for these reasons that Ebony and Ivory Houses were created.
Some people like to be alone at this time and this can also be arranged. One of the cottages will be made available to you and you need have no contact with anyone unless you wish to do so.
Support meetings are held regularly at Ebony House. This is an opportunity for families and friends of homicide victims to get together and provide care and support for each other. The day is casual and relaxed and everyone is made welcome. Please contact the office for more information about these meetings.
Accommodation for families at Ebony House is totally free of charge. Families from NSW, interstate and overseas who come to Sydney for court cases or just for a break away, also use the houses.
Ebony House is not only a tribute to Ebony Simpson but also a memorial to all murder victims. It is also proof that grief and anger can be channelled into positive energy with astounding results.