Women’s Refuge Appeal Focuses on Their Smaller Clients
With over 40,000 women and children referred to Women’s Refuge last year, just under half of those referrals were for children. This year the Women’s Refuge Annual appeal focuses on raising money to help kids in Aotearoa lead lives free from violence. The nationwide campaign is targeted at raising funds to go towards meeting the costs for services that Refuge provides for children across the country.
“We know that the impact of exposure to family violence is devastating for children; with some kids saying that witnessing family violence is more distressing than being the direct victims of violence by adults,” says Women’s Refuge Chief Executive Dr Ang Jury.
“Living with violence creates a sense of constant anxiety and stress, and this stress can damage if it’s too much or lasts too long; when these tiny minds are exposed to severe, frequent, or ongoing stressful situations it can lead to an over sensitive stress response. We can help them heal from this by providing one on one advocacy, programmes and workshops, groups - channels where kids can talk about their experiences in a safe and healing space.”
Disturbingly, recent Refuge statistics indicate that the demand for refuge services for children will increase over the next 4-5 years; they will need more child advocates, and more money to help fund the critical work they do to reduce the trauma of children’s experiences, and break the cycle of violence.
While Women’s Refuge has government contracts with Ministry of Justice and Child Youth and Family to provide children’s programmes, the organisation is largely unfunded for the one on one specialised work they do with children which is mostly absorbed in to other streams of income, or shouldered by the refuges themselves.
“Trained child advocates and child focussed services are critical to addressing family violence. Lack of funding for these services for children means that many refuges are unable to retain trained and skilled child advocates, or that the child advocate role is amalgamated into another existing role; essentially our refuges have to choose between being able to offer appropriate services for tamariki and paying the power bill.”
“The kids we work with tell us that they just want to be listened to, have their opinions, thoughts and ideas taken seriously, and be told what is going on. We need to be listening to, and supporting children who experience family violence in the ways that they need. For us to do this work we need the help of the New Zealand public to donate money to our annual appeal.”
The 2017 annual appeal will run for 4 weeks and donations can be made via the website www.womensrefuge.org.nz, or by looking out for Women’s Refuge Street collectors.