Page 711 - Week 03 - Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

covers a vast number of ways children experience violent behaviour in their own homes.

Exposure to domestic violence can result in a wide range of emotional, psychological, cognitive, social and behavioural issues for children. Children may display fear, anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, excessive worry and depression. They may be more aggressive or oppositional in their behaviour. Children who have experienced domestic violence are often particularly watchful of others because events have led them to believe that people can be dangerous. Others may have significant attachment difficulties throughout their childhood and may suffer from mental health conditions such as eating disorders or episodes of depression. In addition to these difficulties, children exposed to domestic violence may perform poorly in school, have low cognitive functioning ability and have limited problem-solving abilities. As adolescents and adults they may also come to accept and tolerate violence as a normal feature of their personal relationships.

The ACT government is well aware of the needs of the children who are exposed to trauma, including domestic violence, and therefore committed $3.05 million from the 2013-14 budget over four years to establish a new trauma recovery program for children. This program forms an important part of our commitment to protecting children from abuse and neglect.

I was very happy to launch the opening of Melaleuca Place as one of my first duties upon becoming Minister for Children and Young People in July 2014. Melaleuca Place provides a targeted, multidisciplinary, holistic early intervention and prevention service committed to supporting children and young people to heal from the trauma they have seen and experienced, repair existing relationships and establish new supportive and protective networks. Melaleuca Place is a tangible response to the need to intervene early in order to repair damage and to give children the best chance, no matter what might have happened to them or what they might have experienced.

For the children exposed to domestic violence, the intervention is undertaken by trained professionals and the children are supported to develop their own stress reduction strategies to enhance their emotional wellbeing. They are given reassurance that what has happened to them is not their fault, and through counselling and support the child’s sense of safety and security is restored.

Research has clearly established that the brain is altered following a prolonged exposure to trauma and stress. This can lead to permanent changes in the brain’s structure and significant delays in a young person’s development. To address the delays in children’s development, the program provides interventions offered by a speech pathologist and an occupational therapist. At the moment, there are 20 children who are receiving this specialist intervention from a team of allied health professionals comprising psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, a speech pathologist and psychological workers.

All of the children presenting to Melaleuca Place have symptoms associated with trauma as a result of experiencing abuse and/or neglect that impacts on their development, emotional and psychological wellbeing. The overarching aim of the

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video