Children’s exposure to domestic and family violence has enormous hidden consequences. It can have detrimental effects on their behaviour, education, mental and physical health and even their chance of becoming homeless in the future. The effects are often life-long and severe.
Children thrive in safe, stable and nurturing home environments where they have a routine and know what to expect. Secure, loving relationships with their parents and quality, uninterrupted learning opportunities at home and in school are key to future well-being.
A sudden or significant disruption in one area often leads to a domino effect in the others. Whilst being vital for their safety, finding themselves entering a family and domestic violence refuge can be extremely stressful for children of all ages and affects children’s feeling of security.
Many children enter a refuge with nothing but the clothes they are wearing. The urgency of their situation has meant that all their possessions have been left behind. Everything they know and love. Everything that brings them comfort. The immediate sense of loss is huge.
We aim to lessen the impact of that sense of loss for children entering refuges across Australia. In so doing, we hope to reduce the deep and lasting impacts that their displacement can have on their development physically, emotionally, and cognitively.
The exact number of children entering domestic and family refuges in Australia each year is not known. Funding is provided to refuges based on the number of clients that they service but, for funding purposes, only the mothers are considered to be clients – so only the mothers are officially counted. There is no national data collection agency for refuges, making the task even more difficult. Best estimates put the number at over 50,000 children. Last year, the first year of the program, we supported 400 children. This year our target is 1,000. Please help if you can.