Child Abuse – A Toxic Heirloom – Watch the Free Seminar

‘Child Abuse – A Toxic Heirloom’ is a presentation by Judith Shapland held at the Byron Bay Community Centre.

Judith Shapland is a public speaker on the subject of child abuse recovery. She works on raising awareness on the subject through her work at ‘Significant Impact’.

Watch Judith Shaplands one hours presentation now for free:

If you have any feedback please feel free to leave us a comment below.

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Housing Project Douglas Shire Final Report

Written & Complied by Judith Shapland – Significant Impact – June 2016



This project was funded by Partners in Recovery (PIR) a program that works with individuals who have mental health issues and identify the need for recovery using the self determinates of recovery principles. PIR reported finding a recurring number of participants struggling with homelessness and housing affordability in the Douglas Shire.

In 2012 James Cook University (JCU) conducted a project, Homelessness in Douglas- ’It’s Much More Than Having a Roof Over Your Head”. A number of recommendations were put forward from this project, unfortunately, due to funding cuts and the lack of provision for an allocated position to follow up these recommendations these were not capitalised upon. There was an incredible amount of information gathered in the project and a request was made to me “not to reinvent the wheel”, but to take this project to the next level.

The report from the JCU project was an excellent document, the data and statistics provided an overview of the difficulties being faced by the Douglas Community regarding housing and the social drivers of this recurring need.

Acknowledging the lack of affordable housing in the region, I met with the Department of Housing (DoH) to understand why there was no increase in stock as this was clearly identified as a need in the JCU report. DoH stated they did “not receive enough housing applications to warrant more stock”, yet support services in the region clearly stated they were lodging significant amounts of applications. This identified an obvious issue regarding housing application processes. These may need to be further addressed in terms of communication, referral pathways or process in the future.

Realising that I would not be able make any significant impact with the houses on the ground in the short time frame of this project. I turned my focus towards the foundation of the project, being to propose a Recovery/Service Model for the Douglas Shire. I broke the homelessness issues down to the main social drivers including: Domestic Violence, Mental Health, and Alcohol and Other Drugs, and Youth Homelessness.

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Speech at the Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium

Judith Shapland has held a speech at the 6th Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium in NSW, Australia.

To listen to a recording of the speech, click on the play button below:

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Suicide – Understanding Drivers of Disappear

Suicide is on the increase, with children as young as 8 years old taking their own lives and it does not discriminate. Old young rich or poor suicide shows no bounds.

The thinking that suicide is an option was something that captured me at a very young age; I grappled with suicidal ideation up until my 40’s.

I had worked extensively on the underlying trauma, and the events that left me feeling so desolate. It was not until I looked at the behaviour that i had developed as a means to survive the life i had experienced. I have named these survivor behaviours.

My belief systems that drove my actions and my actions which created my life

This constant cycle of negative and destructive patterns that kept repeating, which I have called ‘negative looping.

Once i became aware of this dynamic that I myself was creating as a result of my experience i then felt i could make some changes.

I began to analysis my drivers of despair, to pull them apart and change their strong hold.

I developed a Circuit Breaking Tool to challenge my thinking and my outcomes.

I can honestly say i no longer experience suicidal ideation, feeling free from this is an incredible place to be.

The key areas for me are





Through my process of recovery i have come to a true sense of peace and compassion for myself………no I did not find God, i unearthed my authentic self, the self-hidden and cowered in fear, released to stand in my own truth.

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Life Beyond Addiction – is it possible?

We live in an addicted world almost everyone is addicted to something.

If we give up one thing there is always something else to take its place.

Can an addictive personality work for us?

Can we move from being addicted to something that is harmful to something that is good for us?

We know that a large part of addiction is about brain chemicals and neuro respecters’ in the brain, the production of serotonin, endorphins and dopamine releases.

We all want those good feelings, those good vibes; we spend our entire life chasing them.

So, we also know learned behaviours in childhood become our norms, so for a child watching parent’s shoot up or pull bongs, to children who partake in the daily ritual of eating chocolate are their futures predestined.

We now know that sugar is as addictive as cocaine.

I am an expert at being addicted; I have gone from food to toxic love to cigarettes to cannabis and back to food.

I have the transferred addiction down pat. Coming from a family of addicts I watched my father go from alcohol and cigarettes to food and became his eating buddy for many years.

Also, working in the fields of ATODS and Mental Health, Homelessness and Forensics for the past 25 years, I have witnessed the same despair in varying degrees. My wounding has felt very simular if not the same as many of the people have worked with.

Fortunately for me and my clients, I had 10 years of healing and personal growth under my belt before I began in the field.

What did occur to me at one stage, is these happy feeling the production of serotonin must begin somewhere. Infancy would make sense, tickling of tiny toes, the connection of love between mother and child, those beautiful shared moments where your mother delights in your pure existence. Surely this is the place where the brain begins to fire off these chemicals, and then as we build on those happy times the brain works with us to keep creating them.

Here in lies my problem, I did not have a mother like that, I was sexually abused in my infancy and my mother was emotional destitute and cruel towards me.

My childhood was filled with despair, so my search for those happy vibes was external to myself.

This I found was a common theme amongst all the clients that I worked with.

I have come to believe that a large part of our addictive personality type, is filling our hungry hearts and the holes in our souls. What is left over after that becomes habit, ritual and avoidance, anything to keep from sitting with our despair, that deep loneliness that permeates our soul.

That connectedness to self, if we have not felt that joy the wonder of being alive-if we have never had that reflected back to us through someone else’s eyes, we are disconnected to self.

Let alone the impact of abuse and trauma will add another layer.

It has taken me 30 years to make peace with myself to feel calm in my soul and to allow myself those chinks in my armour that I could not panel beat out.

To settle the panic and the drivers of my addictions, however, I am still a work in progress and will be until I shuffle off this mortal coil.

I have found the journey to self-understanding, self-forgiveness, and self-reflection the pathway to my acceptance of self.

Letting go of the past, which is easier said that done but once done is utter relief and release.

Working with forgiveness of others and not in the altruistic sense, rather understanding that forgiving people for what they have put on you, is a choice to let go of resentment, bitterness, hatred. These thoughts and feelings held me trapped in the very cycle I was clambering to escape from.

So 25 years on I realise that in order to be an effectual worker I had to go within my own fractured psyche and make sense of that. Then I could truly assist others to break through and find some peace within their hearts and souls.


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