Liz Mullinar – survivor of child abuse

Liz Mullinar
Liz Mullinar at Mayumarri in the Hunter Valley

Re-post: First published 23 May 2010. It means a great deal to me that I still receive correspondence from people about this story. With the NSW Special Commission and Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse I thought it might be timely to share again.

I don’t really believe in angels, but if I did, Liz Mullinar would surely be one.  Warm, funny, smiley … smart, tough, feisty.  A woman of two careers.  The first long and very successful career as Australia’s leading casting agent for film and television – from Picnic At Hanging Rock, My Brilliant Career and Dead Calm, to Shine and Little Fish – it is an exhaustive list of fine Australian cinema and television, and many spectacular careers, that had their start in the hands of Liz Mullinar  (I’m looking at you, Cate, and you, Geoffrey.)

Liz Mullinar’s second career was unexpected, and perhaps unsought.  After becoming ill in the early 90’s, for no known reason, Liz began a journey of recognition.  Understanding that having been sexually abused as a child was something that she would have to accept in order to become well again.  But how do you accept something as truly terrible as child sexual abuse and trauma?  How do you find the courage to accept it and admit it, when your life has revolved around feeling … inconsequential.

I left a very rainy day on the coast to drive into the hidden parts of the Hunter Valley, “We are sign-posted from Quorrobolong!” Indeed.  If you are driving from the Cessnock side, not from my side of the Watagan mountains.  “Just call if you need directions … here are my home and mobile phone numbers …”  Great.  No signal.  Sigh.  Nearly an hour late, I finally drove up the correct dirt road, around bends, up and over the hill … and down to one of the most beautiful, peaceful locations I’ve seen.  Mayumarri (now the Heal For Life Foundation).  Peace.

“If you look around you, you’ll notice you can’t see any other homes at all.  This is important.  If you need to scream as part of your healing, you don’t want the neighbours calling the police!”

Liz was one of the co-founders of ASCA – Advocates for Survivors of Child Abuse.  She walked away from her very successful business after realising how little was being done to help people, just like herself, whose lives were damaged by childhood trauma.

Mayumarri is beautiful.  It is picturesque and tranquil.  Would have made a good movie set.  I had read a PhD thesis which includes an interview with Liz in which the author describes feeling like an ‘intruder’, and it gives the impression that here is a woman who will only talk to you, tell her story, against her will.  Grudgingly.  Because she has to for a ‘greater good’.  That she is extremely guarded. Given her childhood abuse it would be easy to assume this is true, and understandably so.  And perhaps, once upon a time, she was.  But not now.  I don’t know that Liz Mullinar.

I arrive, late, at Mayumarri with my family in tow.  The kids’ soccer had been cancelled, and I thought they might enjoy romping around a Hunter Valley property, so I quickly called to seek permission for them to accompany me.  “Of course!”, said Debbie – one of the Mayumarri volunteers, “We’re expecting you for lunch!”  As I parked the car and started to remove recording equipment, cameras, kids, bags of European biscuits I had brought for Liz … a small, elegant, silver-blonde woman came striding towards me, all beaming smile and warm manner to wrap us all up in a warm welcoming hug, “I’m Liz!  Come on, lunch is ready!”

Before we knew it, we were in the enormous earthy space of the main Mayumarri building – a log fire roaring on one side, a bustle of activity in the vast kitchen, and a massive timber table set for lunch for about 30 very hungry people who were all rather pleased to see that I’d finally arrived.  They could eat!  After a communal simple ‘grace’ of thanks, each member of Mayumarri introduced themselves to me.  Carers.  Facilitators.  Guests.

I explained why I was there, and that no-one had to talk to me, to be interviewed, unless they were entirely happy about it.  Comfortable would be the wrong word, how could you ever be comfortable telling a stranger that you’d been sexually or emotionally abused as a child.  Happy is probably the wrong word, too.  I offered that we would stop our interviews at anytime.  That I would delete or edit anything they may have said to me that they perhaps wished they hadn’t. That their privacy and identities would be protected.  Yet everyone in that warm room wanted to talk.  Nearly everyone was happy to be photographed for my stories.

I conducted my interviews in the Mayumarri chapel.  An octagonal building made of rammed earth, timber and glass.  A warm room full of comfortable chairs, rugs … and tissues.  More boxes of tissues than I’ve ever seen.  If these walls could talk, they’d cry.  Yet it is not a sad place.  It’s a safe and loving space.

The chapel at Mayumarri

The youngest woman I interviewed was just 17.  The oldest was 67.  And there was Harry, too.  Harry is a big bear of a man.  Now a carer and facilitator, Harry first came to Mayumarri to heal.  Right there is another myth busted.  Mayumarri is no Dog’s Head Harbour, and Liz Mullinar is no Jenny Field.

Mayumarri is for everyone who needs it – man, woman, young, old, confused, broken, bereft. There are house rules: no drugs, no alcohol, no mobile phones (yes, really), no television, no magazines, no anger, no abuse, no power-plays.  Guests arrive at Mayumarri on a Sunday afternoon, and stay until the following Friday.  Behaviour agreements are drawn up so that everybody knows what everybody else needs to feel safe.  You don’t like people standing behind you?  No problem.

The one recurring theme in all of my interviews – aside from the obvious link of childhood sexual abuse and trauma – is one of trying to survive when feeling powerless.  Useless.  Pointless.  Unloved. “How can I care about myself when no-one else does?”  Suicide is mentioned.  A lot.  By young and old.  The dark-eyed Cassie tells me about how she would cut herself in order to feel something. Anything.  Kira tells me about her addiction to crack cocaine.  Kira?  She’s so beautiful, and smart … how could someone like Kira fall so far?  Kristina.  Her isolation from her children and grandchildren.  Harry.  Useless Harry who would never amount to much. Harry? Harry saves lives!  Tears are shed.  A lot.  I wondered why I couldn’t see the negatives these people had seen in themselves. The failings they had convinced themselves everyone else saw.  As I spoke with each one of them, all I could see were their strengths.  And there were many.  Do I live with rose-coloured glasses on?  No.  We all have our stories.  Some of us aren’t brave enough to tell them.

But here at Mayumarri, somehow, over the course of a week, or many weeks and return visits, the damage is undone.  The healing begins.  People who’ve lived their lives in pain and shame come to know their true selves, and their true worth.  And perhaps most importantly, to love and accept love.  Forgetting is impossible, that will never happen.  But acknowledgement and acceptance gives back a little power to those whose power had been taken from them.  By force.  I asked one of the two Chloes, “Is the hardest part letting people love YOU?”  I could see her fight the lifelong desire to prickle as she looked at me for a moment, and quietly said, “Yes.”  I see you, Chloe.

I had interviewed Liz Mullinar once before.  As we were having lunch she loudly proclaimed, “This is Carol.  A few months ago she did the best interview with me I’ve ever done. Ever!”  Thank you, Liz.  It is a great privilege to be able to come to your safe place, to share a meal with you and the Mayumarri people, and to have you trust me to share your stories.  I didn’t feel like an intruder at Mayumarri.  I asked my husband afterwards what he’d been expecting, and he said that he had thought he would feel like we shouldn’t be there.  Strangers.  Intruders. But I knew as soon as I saw Liz striding up that hill that we were, in fact, very welcome.


I didn’t see my husband or kids for the next four hours.  They were wrapped up in warm hugs and sweet biscuits and cups of tea, venturing to the Mayumarri lake where canoes are kept by the barn.  They got rained on.  Which meant more warm drinks and sweet biscuits and hugs and throwing logs on the open fire.

I know we were welcome.  I think my boys were their own little force for good, too.  Mr 8 said to me, “Mummy, the people there are so kind, it’s like they’d never be angry!”  I don’t think my boys understand the tiny little bit of healing balm their bright, open faces, their big laughs and warm hugs offered in return.

They don’t claim to be mental health professionals at Mayumarri.  They don’t pretend to be anything they’re not.  I found them to be so much more.  They offer everything that our wonderful Australian health services (and we are very lucky in this country) don’t offer.  Time.  Warmth.  Compassion.  Love.  Healing.  There is no prescription for what is offered at Mayumarri.  But maybe there should be.


78 thoughts on “Liz Mullinar – survivor of child abuse

  1. I just wanted to post a comment to say that I went to Mayumarri twice, once in HV and once in Vic and am going back in May this year again. I had tears of love and joy in my eyes when I read your description of the chapel. That was the first room in my 40 years of life that I felt safe enough to cry. More importantly, safe enough to let the sunlight of real love shine through a few cracks in my armour and brittle defence. I first walked into Mayumarri a hard coated snail, with a lifetime of walls and barricades built up to keep me safe…….and alone. As I walked into that chapel the cracks began to appear, and for the first time in my life it was OKAY. No one said “get it together” or “your unstable”. I was allowed to cry in a room that gently hugged me with its calm and vibrant echoes of the many men and women who had done so before me with such vulnerability and courage. Is there anything more beautiful and worthy of compassion? In the process of the week at HV, I shed my tough shell and allowed myself (because the people there FIRST allowed me and encouraged me) to be a vulnerable caterpillar with no defences. I cloaked myself in the love and acceptance of the mayu family (of which I am now part) and I began to GROW in a cocoon filled with the purity and innocence of love that was so potent and healing, it was almost too painful to bear. I was shown how to leave mayumarri the beautiful butterfly I am today. A 42 year old woman, a mum to a beautiful three year old girl, who sees refelcted in her eyes every day, the factual truth that she is the most precious and valuable being in the world. I tell her that she and all children, are the true beauty and teachers of this world, and I hold her trust of me to keep her safe and teach her how to love herself just as she is just because she is inside my heart and guard it with my life. I keep going back to mayumarri the way an adult would go back to a loving family, to grow and be nurtured and loved back to life, and to continue to do so until I can begin to help others to the same. My life and purpose was given to me by Mayumarri. I went there as a woman who thought that her personage was the abuse that happened to her. I left there with the truth (in my heart and soul) that I was an innocent child/woman of god (the universe)……..I was pure. If you have ever been the victim of any abuse as a child, you alone, will only know the value of that feeling. Safe hugs. Simone

  2. I am so very encouraged to see that Mayumarri has not changed, as the healing week I did in 1999 was so liberating. I will continue to encourage suffering survivors to check it out find deeper healing and freedom, in their timing…

    1. Hi Janet, The only thing that’s changed is their name. They have recently become the Heal For Life Foundation, but are doing more work and healing more lives than ever. x

  3. Hi Carol,
    I wanted to let survivor’s out there know that there is some justice out there. As of yesterday my abuser was sentenced to 13 1/2 years in jail with a none parole period of 11 1/2 years. It has been a long 2 years in the court system but it has also been 28 years of silence for me. Mayumarri helped me so much that I had the courage to come forward, even knowing that my abuse stopped 16 years ago, he never did. He had abused 3 other members of my family, my nieces. His 2 daughthers and another niece. It has been worth all the ups and downs that I have gone through in my life. For me now it’s a chance to start a life one without fear or self blame, and hope in writing this that it does give someone the courage to come forward and report it. And if someone does, it would mean so much more than I could ever had hoped for.
    Thank you Mayumarri and thank you carol for giving some of us a voice instead of silence. We all need to talk about childhood abuse instead of hiding the secret. There is an article in today’s age on page 14 about some of my case. If you can read it, hope it helps. There will also be one in tomorrow’s age as well.
    I am no longer affraid and scared..

    Once again THANK YOU
    Tracey xoxo

    1. Hi Tracey,

      What a day for you, huh? People keep coming to this story or contacting me at work to tell me their own stories. “Me too.”, they say.

      I received a beautiful card from the woman who organised my mother’s funeral in 2007.

      “Me, too.”

      I could weep.


  4. I am crying reading this – tears of joy for those helped and tears of pain for myself… If only I had the courage – if only.

    Most people, who havnt been thro childhood abuse, find it hard to understand our need. Fair enough I guess – have to have been thro it to know it.

    Thank you – all of you wonderful people who help others.


  5. Carol I was writing when your comment came through and I am glad funding is still coming.I Think I will get in touch with Liz for more info on Mayumarrie for our art and book opening in July . At end of Month Thanks jeannie

  6. Did not say comment waiting moderation!! It is a better than good words fail me and so they should becaus what has happened is very good inaworld that does not understand or head, what the adult survivors all need. Aplaceto feel safe and freedom to share.. There should be more support for what is stilla taboosubject.The legal system needs a radical overhall as it does not take into account the injuries and the damage that can be done by child abuse .So many people never complain so hold the shame. Why? because it is an unfair system dealing or not dealing with the needs of the survivor….

  7. I came to Mayumarri when only Liz and Rod’s house was built, It was like meeting an old friend when I met Liz . I spent a lot of time here doing workshops for running groups. Helping around the place and being among people on a similar journey of healing. A safeplace to start. I was there when the Govenor General opened Mayumarri, was at This is your Life, when Liz was the life being revealed and honered. I came back for a Healing workshop for 5 days and they were memorable.Realise that isolation brings only hurt,anger and dispair. Being with like minded people is very healing. We have an Art Workshop in Wollongong,which is run by volunteers. We have a writting book and art exibition at the end of July 2010. This will be our 11th year so tho funding is not always available for a bigger service,Isee and feel the courage to do this. My best wishes always for Mayumarri Love and blessings xxoo

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment. I had the pleasure of speaking with Liz again yesterday. The federal government has given them $50,000 to do some more healing weeks and so on. Nowhere near enough but at last recognition that what Liz is doing with the Heal for Life Foundation (Mayumarri) is valid and worthwhile.

  8. Hi Carol

    Love what you’ve done and seeing the effect it’s had on others in reading these comments. I too am a survivor and have been to the retreat in WA. Evee has done a magnificent job here in WA, I feel so humbled by her efforts to bring Mayumarri to our far corners. My life continues to grow following this amazing 5 days, it truly is the start of the next chapter in my book of life. Also the friendships that develop from the safety and respect shown at Mayumarri are heartfelt and truly valuable. I would love to see an Australian Storey too.


  9. Hi Carol

    My daughter sent me this link as she is a survivor and if not for Mayumarri I am sure she would not be here today… Yes we need to get the word out how many people have suffered and for far too long. Mayumarri has helped not only my daughter but myself to cope and heal. Too many have experienced such tragic childhoods… Liz is amazing as well as all her staff, Harry is one in a million.

    Thankyou for getting the word out.

  10. i love maymarri .the freaky thing about this blog is , i found salted caramel from auctiva reading advice about business and here i am again talking about mayumarri .freaky coincidence . anyway please keep up the good work and keep telling people about mayumarri .

  11. Ive done several healing weeks both in Victoria and the Hunter Valley.The reason I went back,more than anything else Mayumarri offers,is because it was SAFE….finally I’d found somwhere which was safe but even more than that, I was LOVED because and despite who I am and where Id come from.
    I woke up on my 4th day of mayumarri (Wednesday is learning about joy) and realized I actually wanted to live.That mightn’t sound like much to some ppl but Id never wanted to live before. I thought life was something to be endured and then you die and I frquently tried to speed that process along both through suicidality and other risk-taking behaviour.
    In my life Ive had many issues as a result of the abuse in my childhood.This has included being a heroin addict,neing a prostitute for 15yrs, starting at age 14, being in and out of the psych ward being diagnosed with everything from borderline to bipolar,depression to OCD,but the cause was never explored and Ive been told by the ‘top psychiatrist’ in my town that ‘ppl like me’ are just a drain on the mental health system.Ive struggled with certain criminal behaviours and have a long record of petty offences,I was a self-harmer and now have to live with visible scars for the rest of my life.I hadnt passed school since grade 6,I’d never had a real job,Id struggled with eating disorders,exercise addiction and been a street kid and in foster care.I cant tell you how many suicide attempts I had but it was many.I was completely unable to function.Basically life sucked.
    It wasnt instant and Ive needed to return to Mayumarri several times and may need to return again but slowly I stopped self-harminfg I no longer work as a hooker, I dont have a paid job but I do lots of volunteer work which I love and which has taught me skills and shown me i dont have to be a working girl,I volunteer for Mayumarri too and it truly is a labor of love,reaching out to others who are survivors like me and are floundering for something, anything….to truly adress the roots of their issues,not just the symptoms. Ive had lots of therapy, been in a couple of drug rehab,stried outpatient programs and of course the ever-present psych system,and nothing is like Mayumarri.Never has anything even come close.To heal somewhere where everyone is on their own healing journey and where we’re allowed to be loved, to be held, to be accepted and not judged and not have to fit into a box is truly miraculous. Its the first place ever where I havent been put in the too hard basket.Its the first place where Ive been told Im normal and as as Kira said Ive just reacted normally to abnormal situations.To me the benefits of a week at Mayumarri is roughly equivelent to a year of therapy.(I dont want that to scare anyone-that doesnt mean we sit in groups all day and talk about our story,in fact we dont share story at all unless we want to with a carer so that we can all heal at our own pace and we’re not driven to despair by eachothers devastating stories.)
    I have found spirituality at Mayumarri and yes Liz is a minister but I would have absolutouly FREAKED if Id been told Mayumarri was a religious organization and know many ppl feel the same.It is not.If you happen to have spiritual beliefs of any kind thats perfectly acceptable and if you believe in nothing (very understandable considering what we’ve been through) thats just as acceptable.Finding spirituality has been part of my journey for me but its not for everyone and Mayumarri’s only focus is to help guests heal and feel safe,the rest is up to the guest themselves.We do run 3-4 christian hw’s in the Hunter Valley each year but all the rest of the hw’s and hw’s run in other states are non-denominational.
    At Mayumarri we’re allowed to feel,we’re allowed to cry without shame,laugh without restrictions,rage in safety and finally feel the terror that is the burden of all survivors of abuse.
    I find it easier to eat and keep it down these days, Ive had relapses but havent had a habit in many years, I have no desire to add to my scars and no longer need to cut up but am no longer ashamed of them as they are part of my journey.Im learning to do the basics so many ppl take for granted,looking after myself physically,trying to keep my house clean,trying to be organized when I come from chaos.Best of all, I am incredibly grateful to be alive and now wouldn’t take back a thing, not because I would wish an abusive childhood on anyone but all I can do is make the best of it so Im grateful for the compassion,determination,lovingness and strength Ive gained as a result.
    Im in the process of writing a book,determined to tell my srory while some of my perpetrators are still alive and to talk about recovering memories and how that feels.There’s lots of survivor books out there now which is wonderful,survivors are finally finding their voice and the world has to start listening,but I could write two seperate books about surviving the stuff Ive always remembered and then the stuff I remembered later and continue to remember.I know this will be contreversial but I know my truth and the truth of so many others who’s trauma caused them to block it out in order to survive.The brain is an amazing organ.
    Thank-you so much Carol for your beautiful article on Mayumarri and the pictures of our special place.I consider Mayumarri my family and I love Liz dearly and I also love her sister Lucy and her husband,so many of the carers who have walked alongside me on my journey, volunteers and ppl from our community forum for ppl who have been to Mayumarri. Mayumarri is a healing place and a home for anyone who opens their hearts to take in the care that is so freely and lovingly on offer there.
    Mayumarri is an indigenous word for Peace and Peace is truly what Mayumarri is about.

  12. I have to say your story captured beautifully the essence of Mayumarri wonderfully. I too am a survivor of childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse, I was crying out for somewhere to go to heal that would allow me to feel safe and was culturally appropriate as an Aboriginal woman. Mayumarri allowed me to begin my healing journey without any judgements for the first time in my life, I am now 46yrs old so I have lived with my pain for a long time. Liz, Rod and Harry to me are absolute gems in life, not only have they reached out and warmly welcomed me to heal at Mayumarri but Liz saved my daughter from certain suicide, we count ourselves so lucky to have had an amazing place I call my healing home to come to and begin our healing journeys as survivors of abuse, without Liz’s dream to develop Mayumarri I dont know where my daughter and I would be. I will always be grateful for all Liz and Mayumarri carer’s have done for us. I have worked in the health system for over 15yrs and can tell you it will never be able to provide a program such as Mayumarri because it is totally devoid of love, caring and warmth, thank god for Mayumarri and all who love it. Warm hugs and kisses Sharon xoxoxo

    1. Thanks Sharon, and I’m glad you left a comment. Once the interviews are edited and on air, I will try to put them here, too. x

  13. Dear Carol…. There are so many of us, the less-than-people who found a place to become more-than-victims. Three times my healing journey has included giving away some of my pain and shame and fear, and being able to believe that my life didn’t have to be in darkness; that I didn’t have to fight just to have some sense that life was what you were hit around the head with until you turned up your toes.
    And finally coming to the place where I could look at me in the mirror and say: “I love you.” And say to my baby son: “I am the dad that you have a right to have”.
    Catalyst recently did a segment on recovered memories. Perhaps you could talk to them about what you found at our place of safety – how many of us have found and relived ugliness that no child should ever have faced, and reclaimed the parts of ourselves that were buried with the memories.
    Thank you for speaking the truth.

    1. Joe – never less-than-people. Becoming more-than-a-victim, yes, but never less-than-people. Others might have allowed that to happen to you, or caused it to happen, but it’s how the rest of us react, help, protect that truly matters. Which is why it needs to be talked about, and why people need to have the courage to tell. Love to your boy!

      1. Carol, how very true, alot more people need to talk about there abuse, and need to come forward in hope that we can stop it happening from others.. I know that so very well. It took me 28years to report my abuser, only after I found out he was abusing one of my nieces. Then came, he was also abusing 2 of my other nieces. Two of which are his daughters!!! I found my voice and told my secret in hope to stop him from hurting anyone else. And after a long 2 yrs, he now gets sentenced on the 27th of july. I am not affraid anymore of speaking out, I just wish and hope more people could hear!!!

  14. Dear Carol …Your Love and attention to this beautiful story causes organic movements for me and Mayumarri to successfully be able to go onto a wider community audience bridging a much needed correctional place of Understandings which truly does work to do it own work on you continuely and for the ever wonderful tireless Liz and Rodney whom are recognised for bringing that Love within all of us well alive again in such a Magnificent Place of such Prue Wellbeing though this Inner Healing space which surrounded me and supported my own personal development and growth by facing up and thru my own incredible Breakdown to Breakthough of Abuse cycles journey 8 years on. My love and support grows and grows for this place out there where the whole world can benefit out there by sharing the love around like this place shows and gives … thru its people out here ..
    blessing of love, laughter and thanks for the reminder of remembering this too. cheers Allison

  15. Mayumarri is the only place in this world i feel truly safe. The people associated with it are very accepting and non judgmental.. where else do you find that in this world? I am ever so grateful to Liz and the wonderful carers who give of their heart and soul for others. I one day hope (when my family commitments permit) to be able to give back by doing the training so i too may help others affected by child hood trauma. Thank YOU for your support. Sarah xxx

  16. Thank you for all you are doing and by that I mean every person who has read and written something in relation to this site. I am going to Mayumari for the first time soon. I live in WA so its a big thing for me and can’t happen very often. I read the whole blog and everyone’s messages and comments word for word and am excited, inspired and scared (of course) as I wait until it’s my time to journey a little further along the path to healing at Mayumarri. I wondered if you could say a little more about the chapel. Is it a religious chapel?
    best wishes Jane

    1. The chapel is what you need it to be. I am not a religious person, I believe in many things. Liz is a woman of great faith, and I have faith in Liz! I don’t think your religious beliefs, or otherwise, are of any importance to what Mayumarri offers you. x

      1. Hi Jane
        The chapel at Mayumarri is a room where the day begins and ends with an opportunity for people to connect with their own sense of spirituality – whatever that may be. Mayumarri believes in non-judgement and acceptance of all and that includes faith or a lack of. Some people find it challenging to think of the room as a chapel and that’s okay. When I first arrived there i could not even walk in because it is called a chapel. A carer helped me to find another name for it that sits better with me and it made all the difference. Perhaps there is some way for you to find peace with the room regardless of what it is called too? Good luck. xxx

    2. Liz is religious, but her views are not forced on others. I am not religious and did not find anyone there to be a “preacher” .
      A quirk of Mayumarri is that the door handles are lower than average. I asked Liz why this was (im of average height), and she said she wanted them lower because that is they way she likes them. It may seem silly, but the religious aspect is like the door handles, It is what it is, and Liz created it, so she can choose where the door handles go, or what religious principles it is founded on. If you find god at Mayumarri it is because you chose that path, not because Mayumarri preached it in any way.
      The Chapel itself is a georgeous room, filled with light, love and GOD (Good Orderly Direction)

      1. It sounds like a wonderfully inclusive space. Thank you for your reply. I too am not a religious person but I am deeply spritual and embrace all paths that lead to a deeper understanding of myself. For me that path has finally led, at te age of 49, to a place of healing from the violation and abuse forced upon me as a baby until teenage years. Its good for people to understand the essence of the spiritual inclusivity of Mayumarri so there is no fear of religious dogma. I’m so looking forward to coming over. I liked the door handle story and immediately thought, thats for people in wheelchairs and children who might not be able to reach the doorhandles to get out of or into a room. Liz’s preference has a practical application too don’t you think? Jane

  17. Mayumarri has literally saved my life.There is not enough words in the english language to describe the true beauty and LOVE that is Mayumarri.

  18. Oh carol. I have just had a big cry. You and the mayumarri people have touched my heart at the end of a crazy week. Thankyou. You are amazing and you are making a big difference doing what you do. Xx

    1. Suz, thank you. I just had a quick look at your own blog – I will read more of it later. Oh my … your own story … yes, the telling is crucial. For you, for others who love you, for others who may walk in your shoes. xx

  19. I got the email from Mayumarri asking for people to be interviewed and didn’t reply, but now I sort of wish I had. Mayumarri did wonderful things for my life and I still have friends I met there three years ago. Thank you for telling people’s stories.

  20. The seeds sown by child abuse can grow into the most horrendous anxiety disorders, punishing self-harm, poisonous and damaging relationships with others. Every time a newspaper mentions a case of abuse the editor should ensure that an article about Liz & the other advocates of healing & love appear in the same edition.

    1. I just wish I had that power. You’re a writer … see the brave words above from people who’ve been there? Wow. Just … wow.

  21. Hi Carol,
    Eva House @ Mayumarri is the best place on earth.
    How could i fall so hard? Its so easy, the world is a very harsh and unforgiving place. Sexual and emotional abuse caused me to react in a normal way to an abnormal situation, i did what i needed to do to survive. I know you know that, but wider society put people like me in the too hard basket, i get labelled and judged. At Eva house i was supported and nurtured back to a state of wanting to live, i did the hard work, but the support and understanding of the carers is invaluable. IT HAS SAVED MY LIFE!!!
    Having a mention in this article is amazing beyond words, it has turned a hard day day into a day of validation.
    Thankyou for allowing the collective community to have a voice
    Smiles and Sunshine
    P.S. Your kids were a ray of sunshine on an overcast day

    1. Kira … there but for the grace of God or someone/something else go I. I could have *so easily* been in your shoes. As I said in my post, some of us don’t tell all our stories. Perhaps mine pales into insignificance when compared to the sheer horror of what you have been through. But I can assure you … I saw the edge of the cliff. Why didn’t I fall off it? I don’t know. You were all a ray of sunshine for me. Such smart and impressive young women … obviously in different stages of ‘repair’, but just amazing. Twenty years of interviews have taught me a few things (not enough, I’m sure …), one of those things is that when something terrible happens to someone, it is quite often the catalyst that helps to bring the next *true* stage of their lives into clear focus, the THING they will do that will give them meaning and purpose. I refer to my job as ‘using my evil powers for good’. I’m not perfect … I’m as flawed and messed up as the next person, I have plenty of skeletons in my closet, but I KNOW I WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Somehow. Maybe by giving a voice to amazing women like you. Love, Carol xxx

  22. Hi Carol,
    I just read an email sent to me from the lovely Cathy at the Mayumarri office. I am stoked at the wonderful piece you wrote about Liz Mullinar & Mayumarri I am a surviver and have been to MM many times as a guest & carer in NSW & QLD. Mayumarri is truly a magic place the healing , love and acceptance that I received from everybody at MM has enhanced my life so much & Liz Mullinar is a inspration and somebody I look up to & admire with great respect who I love very much.
    Thank You

    1. Hi Susan, thank you for leaving a comment. I am so pleased that my story is starting to filter out to people. It is hard to find the words to truly portray what a special place Mayumarri is – although it’s not the place, it’s the people and the environment created by Liz and nurtured by her wonderful volunteers. I am very touched that people like you, who have been through things I can’t really imagine, are taking the time to write to me.

  23. Carol, thank you for such a wonderful report on what i believe to be a fantastic place. It would be wonderful for more people to know about Mayumarri and know there is a place to go to begin to heal, as i too have done. The support and care of Mayumarri and its community cannot be found the health system which from my own experiences has let down so many. Without Mayumarri this world would be a much darker place, without Liz ther wouold be no Mayumarri and for my family, welll what can i say…………… that would’ve been disasterous!
    Once again thank you for this great report

    1. Thank you, Ruth. I am working on editing the many interviews I did at Mayumarri and hope to have them on air in a week or two. I’m glad you found Mayumarri.

  24. Hi Carol, It was lovely to have you and your lovely family at Mayumarri. As a Health Professional and volunteer at Mayumarri I am deeply moved by the stories I hear and have an amazing sense of fulfillment in knowing that my involvement in Mayumarri helps people to heal and to change their lives. Mayumarri has also helped on my healing journey.

    There should be more places like Mayumarri or at least more funding for this amazing place that has already operated so successfully for the past 10 years. I am so glad Liz had the vision & courage to set up Mayumarri. Thanks Liz, and thanks Carol.


  25. Dear Carol,
    Thankyou for coming out to visit us. It was a great Day.
    You are an amazing writer and interviewer. It was lovely to meet you and so kind of you to come out and interview us all. It’s been a hard road for each of us for many different reasons but we are all still here today! For so many people Mayumarri is their last resort..We need to get our program out to more people because sadly there is alot of people looking for what we offer…hope, love, safety, understanding, but never find it. I am so grateful i did! Thanks for helping us get the word out..We are extremely grateful to you..

    Love Cassie xxx

    1. Oh Cassie! You are so brave. You all are. A friend of mine, a person I love very much and a person who has great compassion – read this post on my blog and has been very moved by it. I am still editing the interviews, but I have sent him your story to listen to. He is a board member of a major Australian charity, and is a man who can help bring about changes. I hope one day he will let me bring him to meet Liz. Be strong, Cassie. The greatest gift you give is sharing your own story with other people. I am so thrilled to hear from you and I hope you will stay in touch … somehow. Don’t give up, and don’t let go. All of you Eva House girls are so smart and caring … you just didn’t believe it in yourselves!!! But it’s true … I saw it!! Thank YOU for helping ME to make a genuine difference. Even if it’s just one person … it matters. Love, Carol.

  26. wow that is a great blog .i have been to mayumarri many times .it saved my life and my families demise .It still saves my life .whenever i struggle i just remeber the peace the love and Liz and the friends at mayumarri .i couldnt come meet you i had family committments but i can recommend mayumarri and tell you it works and i am so ever grateful for stumbling to Mayumarri after a life time of feeling unloved useless and worthless .Now i am busy with business and family and sharing love .
    thanks for shraing this with people

    1. Hi Jane, thank you for your comment. I am so moved by my day at Mayumarri … and by the wonderful people who shared their most personal stories with me. It takes great courage to share things that are so private and that you might feel very ashamed of. We all need to feel safe, to feel like we matter. And Liz Mullinar is just about the most splendid woman I’ve ever met. I’m glad you found your way to her care.

  27. Dear Carol. As a survivor of sexual abuse and having been to mayumarri myself, i wanted to thank you for your story.We are lucky to have a place that feels so safe and loving in Australia.Than god for Liz and all the carers.

    1. Hi Michelle … thanks for your comment. We need more Mayumarris, don’t we. I am in awe of what is done there … by volunteers … with love.

  28. What a lovely piece of writing Carol! I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this – thank you. I love Mayumarri and all who find peace there – it certainly helped me heal and I do feel like I’m HEALING, not just existing anymore but truly LIVING my life for the first time. thank you, thank you thank you Mayumarri and thank you Carol xxx

  29. Carol, this is an amazing place that we need more of in Australia. I also visited Mayumarri for just 2 days, the kindness, the peace and most of all feeling safe at Mayumarri is something that I will never forget. I have a voice now. Due to some very amazing people there…
    Thank you for sharing

    1. Hi Tracy, I’m glad you found your way to my post on Mayumarri! It *is* an amazing place. We were warmly welcomed by everyone there, including the guests … we all had lunch together … I’m wondering if maybe helping there in some way might be in my future. I’d like to think there was always somewhere like that for people to go and be truly cared for. 🙂

  30. Sometimes I anticipate what I’m about to read and honestly, I skim a lot of stuff. I didn’t skim a word of this though. The place looks like it is meant to be home. For a lot of people who have never truly felt like they have a home or feel safe. I love the fact that you’re kids felt safe there too. x Thanks so much

    1. Bern … I know exactly what you mean. I know I will let you down at some point and you will sigh a deep sigh, and skip off to Mia’s website (!) … but I’ll try hard, OK?

  31. Dear Carol, Thank-you for taking the time to visit Mayumarri. A great post – you have captured the essence of Mayumarri beautifully. I am looking forward to your interviews, particularly because they may give some people hope and they may lead more people to heal from childhood abuse. A child in Australia will probably be abused while I am writing this post. We can no longer keep ignoring this major issue that has such an impact on our society – often masked or unseen. You have helped already, your interviews will help more. Best of all you took your boys…My kids enjoyed this strangely tranquil place when I took them up for work one day too. Children, much cleverer and knowing than we oft give them credit! Craig

  32. What a great story Carol – well done to you. It seems that your lovely nature encouraged these brave people to share their stories with you and I am sure your handsome and adorable boys gave everyone a boost. xx

  33. How brave for them to be at the point to acknowledge the need for healing. I wonder how long that takes, or how one gets there. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Cate, I don’t know. How do you get ready for doing anything hard? Maybe you just *are* ready. Like when I gave up smoking. I was ready. I asked each of the people I interviewed what the catalyst was for seeking help, or how they knew they needed hope. To distil their answers would be something like, “When I knew I didn’t really want to die.” Maybe that’s it.

      1. It was “when I knew I wanted to LIVE”. To die is the easy option, to live free of thoughts that burden you daily is the challenge and Mayumarri does teach you basic skills to live unburdened.

        I have also found meditation to be essential to my daily life and have spent every day since being at Mayumarri practicing and feeling the benefits. This was something I did for myself not something Mayumarri advocates you do once you leave but they do plant the seed of self empowerment for you to help yourself.

        1. To die is NOT the easy option. After 27 years of fighting to stay alive and to be treated as a nobody saying goodbye to hope is NEVER an easy option. It means you have worked so hard and it hasn’t mattered at all. Don’t perpetuate a myth

  34. Carol this was a wonderful post to read. I love knowing there are places like this that break away from the mainstream and in a way offer support that is so badly needed. I wish, how I wish my aunt had been able to access support like this when she needed it so badly.
    Thanks you for writing this. x

    1. Sarah – I wish your aunt had found help, too. Young Cassie said to me, “I spent 18 months in a psychiatric hospital because of mental illness – depression, self-harm, etc. They treated me for mental illness, but they didn’t treat me for what caused it.”

  35. I thought you’d write today when I saw your tweet last night about your day. I was hoping you would and you did. It sounds like an amazing place and Liz sounds like an amazing woman who I would love to meet one day. Please let me know when the interviews are airing, or at least if you podcast – I would hate to miss them. I wish I lived nearer to this place – I’d love to be able to help somewhere like that in such a supportive environment. I wish I could have been your recording assistant. You do such great work Carol. xx

  36. That was wonderful Carol. You can feel the warmth and security of the place just through your words.

    I like that there are no claims of being therapists, but that people are able to heal on their own terms, in their own way, but ultimately still heal in a supportive and caring environment.

    It gives me hope for all sufferers of abuse.

  37. Hi Carol,

    Thank you for telling us about your visit to Mayumarri and the wonderful healing that people experience there. I look forward to reading more about it soon.


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