A new program in Dubbo is hoping to break the cycle of family violence by working directly with children.
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The first-of-its-kind program run by Orana Support Service is already helping 70 children and young people whose parent or guardian is homeless or at risk of being homelessness due to domestic violence.
"Since this pilot began just a short few months ago, we have already had some great outcomes with the children and young people referred into the program," Orana Support Service CEO Tina Reynolds said.
"This is a much-needed program for children in regional NSW, it is a person-centred and trauma-informed program that is provided in our women's refuge and outreach service."
As well as providing counselling for kids, the program helps parents fleeing family violence to meet their children's everyday needs.
"What we found is that when parents are trying to heal and go through their trauma stages sometimes the kids' basic needs are neglected," Candice Golding, the program's coordinator, said.
"They might not get to school on time, don't get the right clothing, miss medical appointments. We pick up what they can't and we hold that space until they're ready to pick it back up again.
"We even provide lunch boxes if mum's struggling to put a lunchbox together."
Visiting Dubbo on Wednesday, Minister for Women Jodie Harrison, announced the NSW government has committed $5.2 million in funding to the program - which will also be rolled out in Blacktown in Western Sydney.
"When women flee domestic violence with children, it is often an urgent and desperate escape that leaves them feeling confused and displaced," Ms Harrison said.
"The Accompanied Children's Support Service will be focused on addressing the lived experience of children and young people who have survived family violence and help to empower them to regain a sense of control over their lives."
The funding will sustain Orana Support Service's accompanied children's program until 2026.
Asked what the government was doing to turn around the growing number of domestic violence related assaults across the state, minister Harrison said the key is working with children early.
"Support for children is very important because that breaks the cycle. All the evidence shows us that if you work with children who've experience violence then they're less likely to use it in the future," she said,
"We know that a large number of people who are currently in our correctional facilities have experienced domestic violence themselves as they were growing up - so intervention for children who lived in a house with domestic violence is really important.
"We also need to do more work in schools - and that's something we would like to work on."
According to data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 9 men experience physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15.
Studies show these children are at greater risk for repeating the cycle as adults by entering into abusive relationships or becoming abusers.
Ms Reynolds agreed that supporting children is crucial to curbing domestic violence.
She hopes her organisation's program will be an important part of that process.
"This is where it starts, we really need to be working with the youth and helping them and changing their lives around and giving them the support they need to flourish in the years to come," she said.
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