16 Days Against Violence Campaign Day 8

Children must be kept safe and heard

Currently, children and young people’s voices are not included in the development of responses to family violence.

Jocelyn Bignold, CEO of McAuley Community Services for Women, says this has to stop.

“Children experience family violence differently to adults and require a different and tailored response. Their voices must be heard.”

Each year, McAuley Community Services for Women accommodates and/or supports between 200 - 400 children.

“We see the direct impact of violence on these children ranging in age from infants to young people including children as young as 3 years old trying to run away from home; six year olds exhibiting distress at being unable to protect their mothers; school aged children too frightened to go to school while their mothers are at court; and children expressing relief when they know that they are included on their mother’s intervention orders.” Ms Bignold said.

McAuley Community Services for Women would like to see funding become available for case management of all children in crisis, refuge and temporary accommodation.

“We also want to see funding for adequate levels of counselling and other health related needs such as speech therapy and children’s dentistry,” Ms Bignold said.

Of special concern are the needs of young adolescents experiencing family violence who are falling through the cracks.

“We need specific research on the needs of these young people. We are not seeing them in our family violence services, and we are concerned that they are tipping into homelessness because there is no early safety net for them.”