Child protection advocate Hetty Johnston says it's a 'human right' of every sex abuse survivor to have medical professionals in their life to help.
Source:
AAP
15 May 2017 - 7:22 PM  UPDATED 15 May 2017 - 7:22 PM

Australia's leading child protection advocate Hetty Johnston has pleaded with the medical profession to better educate themselves on the issue of child sexual abuse.

Doctors must not ignore their role in helping victims, she says.

"It is a human right of of every survivor to have medical professionals in their life who understand what's happening for them," Ms Johnston said.

"Undertake some training so you know what it looks like. It's not the big scary monster you think it is when you understand what it is and how to respond," she said.

Speaking at one of Australia's largest gatherings of specialists in Brisbane, Ms Johnston said the medical fraternity would be across this issue in a "nanosecond" if it was seen as a terrible disease striking down 59,000 children per year.

"I just hope that the medical profession embraces this issue," she said after earlier noting the relatively small number of physicians to turn up to her talk.

"Educate yourselves, please, encourage your peers to educate themselves, listen to people who are speaking on this issue, please understand it's real," she said at the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists (ANZCA) annual scientific meeting.

Sexual abuse survivor and former drug addict Ms Cynthia Morton says a GP was instrumental in her recovery because they "knew what was going on".

The founder of the award-winning Emotional Fitness Program - once funded by the Howard government - told the conference that educated doctors can be part of the solution.

More importantly, discussing sexual abuse in the open takes away a victim's shame, Ms Morton says.

"It's so important to help people once they are in recovery to help them find their voice."