After nine years, Kempsey Families has had to stop their program aimed to support children of domestic violence due to a withdrawal of funding.
The SpeakOut4Kids program has worked with women and children in the Kempsey LGA since 2015, with group sessions for children aged 5-8 and 8-12 and for women who were victims of domestic violence.
The aim was to create a safe space, building on confidence and self-worth and to promote the capacity to trust. Delivering a strength-based model to promote resilience and encourage improved attachment to their parents/carers.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2017, more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of mothers who had children in their care when they experienced violence from their previous partner said their children had seen or heard the violence.
Kempsey Families executive officer June Wilson said it was heartbreaking.
"It was obviously very disappointing, after the level of investment and growth of the program, gathering the staff to do that work and also gaining the faith of the community," she said.
"Children are often the unseen and unheard victims in domestic violence, and it is imperative that there be support in place for children impacted by violence."
Funding for the program was through the The Benevolent Society, who use a tender process to assess community agencies and services applicants that are required support systems in the community. 12 agencies tendered and the four successful applicants were: Mission Australia, PCYC, Dalaigur Preschool and Shine For Kids.
The feedback Kempsey Families received was that their program was deemed too expensive.
"I just don't put a dollar value on children's safety and development," Ms Wilson said.
"I look forward to see what's coming in these newly funded programs, but at the same time I have some concerns about how long it takes organisations to get up and running."
Staff members who work in the program will be redeployed into other positions within the organisation.
The Benevolent Society has been contacted for comment.
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