Kitchen, laundry, bathroom items and a baby stroller were recently bundled into “starter packs” and donated to a Hervey Bay women’s refuge in recognition of White Ribbon Day by the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast Women’s Network and supporters.
“Imagine leaving your home with nothing but the clothes on your back,” USQ Fraser Coast Women’s Network Co Vice-President Dr Jayln Rose said.
“Yoorana Women’s Refuge identified the need for household items that they can provide to women upon leaving the shelter. Although the women in refuge don’t know the USQ Women’s Network members personally, they appreciate the generosity.”
Following the hand-over, Tanya Park, Program Manager of Bay Safety Mates, a service for children aged 4-17 who have witnessed or experienced domestic or family violence, gave the USQ Women’s Network members an insight into the service and some of the challenges abused women and children faced every day.
“We have two workers who visit Hervey Bay schools throughout the year,” Ms Park said.
“They currently work with eight groups of 10 students each. Unfortunately there’s not much scope for one-on-one assistance but we can refer them to other service providers such as counsellors and psychologists. The students get involved in the group sessions for one to two years. The majority are now free and safe but there are still some kids living in their environments.”
Ms Park said abused children often had speech impediments and/or struggled with friendships and schooling. Many were subject to bullying.
“They’re all different. Even siblings living in the same environments cope differently. Some act out their feelings and frustrations, some withdraw. A lot stop imagining so we get them into art. Most love stories and play therapy.”
Ms Park said that while many abused children struggled at school, some excelled.
“You think you’ve got the perfect student. For those kids it’s very difficult bringing them into the group ¬– it’s like they’re ashamed to be involved.”
“We try to take shame away from the kids and give them vocabulary for feelings. We also tell them they have choices about how they react.”
Ms Park said it was difficult for many abused students to deal with the realisation that things that were not supposed to happen, did happen, and they had very little control.
“With the older students, there’s a lot of frustration and anger. They want people to step in and help, but when it doesn’t happen, they think ‘I did all I could do and no one helped’, and so they shut down.
“Our service is not about trying to fix their problems but giving them the skills to solve them. We encourage them to believe in themselves and plan for the future.”
Ms Park said a whole-of-community response was needed to help stop domestic violence.
She encouraged anyone who was in a position, whether at home, school or community, to help a women or child who was being abused, to help wherever possible.
“Please don’t take a bystander approach – speak out on behalf of women and children.”
About White Ribbon:
The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest global male-led movement to stop violence against women. It engages and enables men and boys to lead this social change. In Australia, White Ribbon is an organisation that works to prevent violence by changing attitudes and behaviours. The prevention work is driven through social marketing, the Ambassador Program and initiatives with communities, schools, universities, sporting codes and workplaces.
Tell a friend!
Jocelyn Watts, USQ Media, +617 4194 3167, M: 0403 191 958,