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Anglicare WA: A Very Different Christmas

Sadly, for many Western Australian children Christmas can be a time of fear as family and domestic violence hits families and communities hard across our state.

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A Very Different Christmas

by Bec Stott | Manager Philanthropy, Anglicare WA

Can you believe Christmas is just around the corner? With the summer weather heating up, carols and Christmas decorations in shopping centres, Advent in churches. All signaling the start of the festive season, I have been reflecting on the whirlwind year that 2020 has been for us all. We are so fortunate here in Western Australia. Fortunate to be able to celebrate Christmas with loved ones - and able to enjoy being in the great outdoors.

For many, this festive period will be a time to get together and celebrate love, health and happiness. For children, it’s a time of excitement: Christmas lights are magical, presents are wrapped and under the tree, we’re all rehearsing our lines for the Christmas play or assembly and snacks are a must for Father Christmas and his reindeers!

Sadly, for many Western Australian children like five-year-old Daisy*, there will be no lights. No presents. No joy. Christmas will be very different - and can be a time filled with fear as family and domestic violence hits families and communities hard across our state, at alarming rates.

Last year, WA Police reported that domestic violence had increased by 10%. COVID-19 exacerbated these dire figures and this year saw a record high number of reported incidents. The financial and other pressures of Christmas can have major impacts on women and children’s wellbeing and as a result, our family and domestic violence and other support services are bracing for a spike in calls for support.

Our Young Hearts program was such a crucial support for Daisy. Anglicare WA’s Young Hearts is a unique counselling service that works exclusively with families to help children and young people experience safety in relationships, regain trust and heal from trauma. Young Hearts ensures children feel valued, cared for and understand that violence is not their fault.

When children, like Daisy, receive counselling from Young Hearts they engage with counselling support they need to work through the traumas they’ve experienced – using play and art therapy. Children get the tools to help them build healthy relationships and the skills to help them thrive in the future.

When Daisy first came to us at Young Hearts, she drew a picture depicting the time when she still lived with Mum. The picture showed Daisy’s mum and stepdad fighting. Daisy drew a wall to show the fighting in one room, and her in the other room – scared and clinging to her brother. Daisy also drew her neighbour coming and rescuing her and her brother. She told us that her neighbour was nice, and they would watch TV at their house and often stay there to escape the violence at home.

No child should have to experience violence. No child should have to go through so much trauma. Daisy has seen more violence in her five years than most will see in a lifetime.

Because of Young Hearts there is hope for Daisy. Her drawings have changed, and her nightmares have turned into dreams. She drew a picture of her Mum and the house they would live in together. It would be quiet, warm and very sparkly. There would be a garden filled with flowers and you could ‘eat lots of chocolate and lollies in the house and the whole house would feel happy’, she told us. Daisy said this would be a safe and happy house. There would be no fighting and there was a rule that meant her stepdad couldn’t come to the house because he was naughty.

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Daisy’s mum was also supported with counselling through our Family and Relationship Services. This was really important to help rebuild her bond with Daisy. Mum attended joint sessions with Daisy and engaged in activities to strengthen their relationship. Daisy’s mum helped to create a special box for Daisy that contained items to help her feel safe and calm.

With Anglicare WA’s help, Daisy and Mum were supported to reunite and live together again. Daisy continues to use her special box and she now feels safe and has a support network around her.

Young Hearts receives no government funding and relies entirely on the generosity of donations to continue. Your urgent gift will ensure that children can get the help they need - as soon as possible.

If you are in a position to contribute this Christmas, we’d greatly appreciate your support. We invite you, as part of our Anglican Community, to join us in this important work. To shape Christmas, and every day that follows as they were intended to be. Full of joy and peace.

Please consider contributing to Anglicare WA’s Christmas Appeal so we can urgently help children like Daisy.

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