HISTORY OF HEAL FOR LIFE
The Heal For Life Foundation began as one person’s dream to meet a very specific need; establish a safe place for survivors of childhood trauma and abuse to find healing and be empowered to heal from the effects of their childhood trauma or abuse (depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, mental illness and adverse coping strategies).
When Liz Mullinar began recovering memories of childhood abuse in 1993 she found that few services existed which understood her need or those of other survivors. In response to the lack of services Liz, and her husband Rod Phillips, helped found a nationwide charity ASCA (Advocates For Survivors of Child Abuse). ASCA was dedicated to raising awareness of child abuse and providing advocacy and support for survivors. As the organisation grew, the need for a Healing Centre to help survivors became apparent. Liz and Rod started looking for land half way between Sydney and Newcastle and, quite by accident, in 1996 they found and purchased 200 acres at Quorrobolong, near Cessnock in New South Wales, Australia. The land was named ‘Mayumarri’, an aboriginal word meaning ‘Peace’. Half of the land was gifted to the Mayumarri Trust in perpetuity and in 1998 the building of a centre began with a few accommodation cabins. In 1999 the main service building and chapel were built. Mayumarri was officially opened by the then Governor-General, Sir William Deane, in October 1999.
In the early months there was no structured healing program and guests stayed for as long as they needed. In 2000, the current one-week healing program for survivors of child abuse and trauma was introduced, with counsellor Margaret Williams as facilitator. Margaret was supported by volunteer carers who were also survivors of child abuse. Since then over 5,500 guests have attended the programs.
Many of the guests feel called to volunteer their time to help Heal For Life grow. Some guests have even made the commitment to join Liz and Rod and live on the property as volunteers, devoting their life to serving other survivors of child abuse. Usually 6-8 people live on the property in NSW.
Over the years extra facilities have been added including a barn for workshops and accommodation for the volunteers and carers. Another 120 acres adjoining Mayumarri were purchased in 1999 and gifted to the charity and in 2003 the Kids Kamp was established on this new piece of land. Mayumarri has now expanded its services to include Hennessy House, a residence for young women aged 16-25 years who have survived childhood trauma or abuse. Hennessy House is situated in the southern section of the property and was opened by the Hon Tony Abbott, Minister for Health & Ageing, on March 13 2006. In 2010 The Heal For Life Foundation opened “Phillip House” which is for young men 16-25 yrs – the male equivalent of Hennessy House.