Kids in crisis left out in the cold as trauma funds dry up
A LACK of government funding means hundreds of Mackay kids in domestic violence crisis are missing out on vital emotional support.
The Domestic Violence Resource Service is turning away countless traumatised kids as young as four who need urgent counselling.
It is also struggling to find the resources to help youngsters who are on its waiting list.
DVRS executive director Anne Butcher said she had asked the Department of Community Services for extra cash to employ more counsellors to help kids exposed to domestic violence.
Child Safety and Domestic Violence Prevention Minister Shannon Fentiman said she was "aware of pressures on the service” and that the Queensland Government had "more than doubled the hours of (Mackay) children's domestic violence counselling” over the past two years.
DVRS currently has one full-time and one part-time counsellor working with kids aged four to 17.
Ms Butcher said the organisation "could easily be at capacity” if it employed another full-time staff member.
"Hundreds of children in the region are affected by domestic and family violence,” Ms Butcher said.
Ms Butcher said she was thankful for the State Government's increased funding for women's and men's counselling and for men's behaviour change programs but not enough was allocated to support the region's youngest survivors of abuse.
"We constantly have a waiting list of children to see a counsellor,” Ms Butcher said.
"We decided just recently to not continue accepting referrals.
"There is no point having children's names on waiting lists if there is no end in sight as to when we are going to get to see them.”
Ms Butcher said it was vital children and young people exposed to violence received timely counselling.
"Children are traumatised by their experience of domestic and family violence,” Ms Butcher said.
"It means they don't necessarily understand what is going on and their behaviour may escalate at school and at home.
"Parents and schools will have trouble trying to manage their behaviour and children can have nightmares, they can become quite anxious and withdrawn because they cannot express their feelings.
"Child counsellors help them to know that what is happening is not their fault and to understand that their feelings are valid.”
Ms Fentiman said the Mackay Women's Service's funding was lifted from $727,185 in 2014-15 to $1.392 million in 2017-18 and this included money to expand services to Moranbah and Clermont for the first time.
"I'm aware of the pressures on the service regarding counselling for young people which is why we have given an additional $65,000 for mapping available services and to trial innovative approaches to expand options for young people commencing on November 1,” she said.
The Daily Mercury this week reported police applied for 1214 domestic violence order applications with Mackay courts between 2012-15 and 2016-17.
- For 24-hour domestic violence support phone the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732. For 24-hour mental health support call Beyondblue on 1300 224 636, Lifeline on 131 114 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.