Julie Cook remembered for lifelong passion to healing trauma

15 Jun 2023

By The Record

Former Abortion Trauma Australia Director, Julie Cook, left with Perth Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB (centre), Archdiocesan Special Projects Coordinator Tony Giglia (far right), Lisette Jas from Pregnancy Assistance, Rod West, formerly from Centrecare Inc and Celia Joyce from the Fullness of Life Centre in 2017, following the launch of the new post-abortion grief counselling service. Photo: Jamie O’Brien.

In 2006 my sister answered an advert for a writer that Julie had placed in The Record Newspaper

On meeting with Julie, my sister advised her that she thought ‘she might need her sister Mary’s help’ in her particular needs. 

Anyone who knew Julie, understood how impossible it was to say ‘no’ to her – and so began our enduring friendship in both a professional and personal journey together.

Julie was the Director of Abortion Grief Australia (now known as Abortion Trauma Australia) for the past 30 years.  She was married to Richard and together they had seven children.

Her work in addressing abortion trauma was remarkable and deserves acknowledgement.

Julie promoted community awareness and professional development as integral in supporting healing and prevention of abortion trauma. 

In 1997, from a simple home-office, she received a government grant for a 24-hour crisis line – which she often manned herself. 

In 2006, through support from the Knights of the Southern Cross, Julie developed the first mainstream marketing publications on abortion trauma.  With the assistance of a Perpetual Trustees Grant in 2007, she employed me, and we developed a website in 2008, thanks to a Lottery West Grant.

In its first year, the website was accessed more than 25, 000 times with more than 6000 downloads of Julie’s publications (predominantly the Silent Suffering and Men and Abortion Trauma).  

Julie promoted community awareness and professional development as integral in supporting healing and prevention of abortion trauma. Photo: Supplied/Richard Cook.

Julie’s holistic achievements over the years increasingly attracted the support of health and community service professionals creating unprecedented opportunities to promote understanding of abortion trauma. 

In 2014, Julie conducted a two-day training program for the Department of Child Protection and Family Services, which at that time was ground-breaking. 

In 2015, she achieved a two-year grant from the Mental Health Commission to integrate the community into the healing, early intervention, and prevention of abortion related illnesses.  By the end of this grant, Julie had trained more than 250 professionals.   

Julie received the Michael Bell Memorial Award from the international alliance of Catholic Knights for her ‘courage and persistence in tackling abortion in the context of the current social and political landscape’.  Competition for this award extends to more than 15 countries.

In the same year, Julie received a ConnectGroups award for her commitment to addressing the issue of abortion trauma in a manner that recognises the seriousness and magnitude of the problem.   In 2016 Julie initiated and held a very successful men’s forum, Abortion trauma: Impact on Men and Relationships.

Julie’s written work was published in the Australian Counselling Association Journal and The Daily Telegraph.  She was most proud when the major US research organisation ‘The Elliot Institute’ emailed the article around the world noting it a ‘must-read article on men, abortion and suicide’.

As Julie became increasingly unwell, and in a painstaking effort to ensure her work was not lost, Julie ‘donned a wig’ and put her training on film. Each filming session was a massive mental and physical effort. 

Julie’s lifelong work in abortion trauma has left enduring footprints on an international scale.  Julie saved lives, not just the unborn – their mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends.

As Julie would always say – if one in three people are involved in an abortion – that’s a lot of traumatised people that our need help.  Julie was relentlessly driven to eliminate human suffering.

Julie Cook, second from left, with husband Richard, far right, and their seven children and a daughter-in-law. Photo: Supplied/Richard Cook.

While Julie’s motherhood and her children always came first – I would categorise her passions as the three Ps:  Property, Politics and Poor Richard.  Julie prided herself on her ability to pick a good property – get to know the good streets and stay away from power lines. 

Julie’s love of history and current affairs regularly resulted in us solving the problems of the world over a wine or two.  As the years evolved our tastes became more polished, from sausage leftovers in the fridge to genuine cheese, crackers & pate connoisseurs – and the odd grazing platter by one of her girls was always a bonus.    

To Julie, Richard was her everything, and she would often say “Poor Richard” for whatever she was putting him through that week. Not letting him hear that of course.

She would see a need and was always there to fill it – bag of sausages or vegies, a toolbox in hand, honey for wound, or an ear for a burdened heart – she was always there. 

Our adventures over the years were endless as two women essentially definable as ever-ready batteries on constant charge. 

Julie always taking the lead and me generally getting her out of some conundrum.    We were content in each other’s company whether we were speaking or not – she was my home. 

Our friendship can be summed up in the words – ‘God Blesses the Yeses & Peace be with you’.

Julie Cook passed away 28 September 2021 after succumbing to cancer, surrounded by her husband Richard and children – Nathan, Lachlan, Lydia, Rowena, Imogen, Helen, Ian.