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Get voting for child sexual abuse advocate vying for regional woman of the year award


Sharlene King
24 January 2019

The manager of a North Coast organisation that supports adult survivors of child sexual abuse, and whose Honours research investigated the effectiveness its group therapy programs, is a finalist in the 2019 NSW Regional Woman of the Year Award.

The winner will be determined by an online poll so, with the result in the hands of the community, the people of northern NSW and beyond are encouraged to vote for Kate Loubet, CEO of Heartfelt House before Friday 15 February.

“This nomination is a great honour and I am humbled and excited about being a finalist,” said Ms Loubet.

“This is fantastic news for Heartfelt House, and a great opportunity to showcase the Northern Rivers for our work in the community with adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in the community.”

As part of the NSW Women of the Year Awards, the Regional Woman of the Year celebrates women who have made significant achievements in areas that are important to regional or rural communities.

Ms Loubet has supported adult survivors of historical childhood sexual abuse for more than 13 years during her long association with Heartfelt House: from starting as a volunteer while studying a Bachelor of Social Science at Southern Cross University, to group facilitator, to being appointed CEO.

She presented to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2017 on the topic of resilience and strength in the case study for the nature, cause and impact of child sexual abuse.

Ms Loubet has recently completed her social science Honours degree. She saw the potential to research the impact of Heartfelt House’s group therapy on survivors and conducted her thesis around the effectiveness of the program. She will graduate with First Class Honours on March 22.

“The participants in the study have embraced this research which looks at how attending a group therapy program can impact on the social and community connections of survivors,” Ms Loubet said.

“The findings were positive and encouraging particularly as survivors commonly report feeling disconnected and alienated from their community networks.”

The study showed that attending a group therapy program may enhance participants’ social networks, including making new support connections and increase their capacity to manage these connections in a positive way.

Since 2005, hundreds of survivors have completed Heartfelt House’s tailor-made program Taking the First Steps, an 18-week, non-residential, structured, trauma-informed group therapy course for adult survivors.

“In 13 years we have provided 41 groups, with six women participants in each group and we’d like to increase the service to provide more group programs for female and male survivors as well as offer support to family and friends of survivors,” Ms Loubet said.

“This unique program aims to provide a pathway to recovery in an environment where participants feel heard, validated, accepted and empowered to realise their potential as an individual, partner, parent and member of the community.

“The consistent feedback we have received from participants is that after completing this program, they have an increased sense of empowerment, freedom and choice.”

Ms Loubet’s determination and dedication to ensure ongoing funding for Heartfelt House translated into successful submissions to the federal government, after the organisation was at risk of shutting its doors in December 2017.

The not-for-profit organisation based in Wollongbar, near Ballina, is the only program of its kind in Australia. Participants come from all over the Northern Rivers and some travel from as far north as Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

“Currently we have a 12-month waitlist as there is no other specialised group therapy service like Heartfelt House,” she said.

Ms Loubet is hoping people will vote for the cause that Heartfelt House stands for rather than her personally. 

“This nomination recognises the invaluable service that Heartfelt House provides in the community,” she said.

“Our work remains underfunded and this award could put a spotlight on the benefits of group therapy for adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse.”


Let’s make Kate Loubet the 2019 NSW Regional Woman of the Year. Click the VOTE NOW button and select Kate Loubet.

Voting closes 11.59pm on Friday 15 February.

The 2019 NSW Women of the Year Awards will be held in Sydney on Thursday 7 March on the eve of International Women’s Day.