Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

New funding to help keep children safe from the start

An Australian Government funding boost will help vulnerable young children affected by recent fires and floods in Tasmania and Queensland gain access to a therapeutic resource kit aimed at reducing the impact of trauma, abuse and violence.

The Minister for Community Services, Julie Collins, announced the additional $15,000 funding for the Salvation Army Tasmania Safe from the Start training program at a meeting today with workers and families in Hobart.

“This resource kit is a valuable tool to help children understand their emotional responses to the tragedies they have witnessed, and shows them ways to cope and deal with their trauma,” Ms Collins said.

“Research shows that the stress of living through a natural disaster can result in an increase in domestic violence and marriage breakdowns.

“The training program and resource kit assists professionals who work with children up to five years of age who have been exposed to family violence, abuse and trauma.

“The new funding is on top of the $200,000 we provided to Salvation Army Tasmania for its Safe from the Start project last June.

“These funds have allowed Salvation Army Tasmania to implement national training programs in 16 locations around the country, including rural and remote locations.

“More than 1000 people have participated in training and 700 resource kits have been distributed.

“There has also been interest in the program from New Zealand, Canada and Singapore.

“There has been great demand on the resource since January and February, when many children in Queensland and Tasmania were exposed to the destruction of the floods and fires, and witnessed the grief and devastation of their families and communities.

“With this additional $15,000, the project will roll out to more rural and remote areas. In particular, vulnerable children in fire and flood-affected areas in Tasmania and Queensland will continue to be supported,” Ms Collins said.

Developed in partnership with the University of Tasmania and Swinburne University, the resource kit includes children’s books such as A Terrible Thing Happened: A Story for Children Who Have Witnessed Violence or Trauma by Margaret M. Holmes.

It also includes cards, puppets, posters, training resources on CD and DVD, and some tips on ways to deal with violence and trauma.

Ms Collins said Safe from the Start won the Australian Institute of Criminology’s top Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award in 2011 and a Child Protection Award in 2010 from the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services.

“The Australian Government is committed to giving children the best start in life and mitigating the impact of early childhood trauma,” Ms Collins said.