In 1987 members of Melbourne’s refugee communities joined with a small group of medical and legal professionals and human rights organisations to convene a public meeting to discuss the provision of health services to survivors of torture.
A range of professionals became involved, and developed plans for a unique model – a hybrid that transcended discipline differences and would provide a range of approaches within a holistic service.
In 1988 two philanthropic trusts – The Myer Foundation and the Reichstein Foundation – provided seeding grants to explore the feasibility of a service for survivors of torture. This eventually led to government funding and one community development worker, Paris Aristotle, commenced work in a small house in Parkville.
Over the years that have followed, Foundation House has grown to become a world leader in the provision of services to survivors of torture and war related trauma. Today, the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture employs more than 200 people and provides services to more than 5000 survivors each year. It also provides training, consultancy and support for service providers in the health, education and welfare sectors.
In Our Own Words has been produced to commemorate our 30th anniversary in 2017 and as a testament to our clients and our work. It is a companion piece to More Than Just Words, produced for our 20th anniversary, and continues to document the contribution our organisation makes to supporting survivors of torture, and to the wider community.