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NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors

Support for People Affected by the Events in Israel and Palestine

STARTTS Statement

In October 2023, the Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT), of which STARTTS and other agencies are members, issued a statement [1] calling for a ceasefire and expressing its grave concern that the escalation of violence in Israel, Gaza and the surrounding regions was “inflicting enduring and devastating humanitarian consequences including loss of life and widespread trauma.”

The International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims, of which FASSTT agencies are members, decried the “unprecedented escalation of violence and cruelty in the conflict between Israel and Hamas” and stated that “the international community must place human dignity at the centre of its actions and focus on identifying the paths to prevent further violations of international law, in particular the right to life and the right to be free from torture and other ill treatment.” [2]

Similar calls have been made by many others.

Sadly, they have not been heeded. The situation in Gaza has dramatically deteriorated and violence has extended in the region, including the Occupied Palestinian Territories of the West Bank.

FASSTT is shocked by the humanitarian crisis affecting the Palestinian population in Gaza. Thousands of civilians, children, women and men, have been killed. Many thousands more are at severe risk of being killed, maimed and injured by violence, disease and starvation.

FASSTT is also dismayed that hostages seized in Israel in October continue to be detained and their wellbeing is unknown.

FASSTT reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire to allow the effective delivery of humanitarian aid and an end to the targeting of civilians, and condemns all forms of violence by any party that breaches international human rights and humanitarian laws. [3]

Our members are supporting affected individuals, families and communities in Australia and assisting schools and other services to be trauma-informed in their work. [4]

We continue to be very aware that millions of people around the world have been and are being forcibly displaced by war and human rights violations, including torture. As the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture remarked to the UN Human Rights Council just one year ago:

“The global picture is a desperately bleak one. I do not need to remind you of the millions of people affected by armed conflicts, where torture is increasingly being applied as a standard brutal practice rather than as a grave crime of exception.” [5]

A significant number of those affected come to Australia as refugees and are clients of STARTTS and other FASSTT member agencies.

We urge all governments and other actors to work for a world free of war, torture and all other human rights violations.

The Forum of Australian Services for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (FASSTT) is a network of Australia’s eight specialist rehabilitation agencies that work with survivors of torture and trauma who have come to Australia from overseas. Most clients of FASSTT agencies have come to Australia as refugees or humanitarian entrants. FASSTT agencies also work with survivors of torture and trauma who have come to Australia as asylum seekers.

There is a FASSTT agency in each territory and state of Australia. STARTTS is the FASSTT agency in NSW.

How to get support

STARTTS is available to support people with a refugee or refugee-like experience living in NSW. On 24 November a national version of our Witness to War support line commenced with our FASSTT sister agencies to be able to provide support and assistance to anyone experiencing distress related to these events across Australia.

Click here for more information, opening hours and the telephone number for the Witness to War National Multilingual Telephone Hotline.

Click here to make a referral.

[1] https://www.fasstt.org.au/statement-on-israel-gaza-conflict/
[2] https://www.omct.org/en/resources/news-releases/israel-opt-gaza-urgent-need-to-protect-civilians-on-all-sides-and-to-ensure-humanitarian-access-to-those-in-need
[3] FASSTT notes that the United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution on Gaza, demanding an immediate ceasefire, and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages – https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-68658415. Calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and release of hostages have been made by Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the UN e.g. https://www.un.org/sg/en/content/sg/speeches/2024-03-11/secretary-generals-opening-remarks-press-stakeout-the-beginning-of-ramadan; and the Prime Ministers or Australia, Canada and New Zealand https://www.pm.gov.au/media/joint-statement-prime-ministers-australia-canada-and-new-zealand
[4] https://www.fasstt.org.au/witness-to-war/
[5] https://www.ohchr.org/en/special-procedures/sr-torture – Remarks of the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Dr. Alice Jill Edwards, to the 55th Session of the Human Rights Council, 7 March 2024.


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