For-purpose national organisation Act for Kids is seeing a significant increase in demand with hundreds of children and young people experiencing trauma or at-risk of harm in Victoria.
Act for Kids alone has experienced a sustained 30 per cent increase in referrals for therapy support, including at its Broadmeadows therapy centre since the beginning of the pandemic.
“We are continuing to see an increase in the number of children, young people and families needing urgent support. Many of our clients are experiencing significant mental health problems, including high levels of depression and extreme anxiety as a result of the past three years,” Doctor Katrina Lines, Act for Kids CEO said.
45,548 children experienced abuse and neglect across Australia during 2021-22. In Victoria there were 15,307 cases of substantiated abuse.
“We are seeing more calls for support at our centre in Broadmeadows with families facing increasing challenges including, financial pressure, stress within the household, and an increase in domestic and family violence,” Dr Lines said.
This week marks a special milestone with the official opening of a purpose-built sensory garden that is set to help Act for Kids expand its therapy spaces and help kids heal from trauma through meeting the needs of the community.
“When children go through traumatic experiences, it can affect how they grow and develop, especially in their ability to connect with others and handle their emotions,” explains Occupational Therapist Angela Tieman.
The sensory garden provides opportunities for sensory experiences which help children and parents to feel safe and connected.
Studies show engaging with nature in a controlled and calming space can encourage mindfulness and provide a safe space for processing emotions, particularly after a child has experienced trauma.
“The special space has been purposefully designed to soothe and comfort, uplift, energize, enable meditation, reflection and connection with others,” says Angela.
The opening of the sensory garden opening follows a three-year project where funding kindly contributed by Property Industry Foundation saw major updates to therapy rooms inside the centre as well as outside.
“We are so grateful for the generosity and long-term support of the team at the Property Industry Foundation and Buildcorp for this project. Investing in our work and our therapy centres, where the magic happens, means we can continue to support children in-need in a positive and uplifting environment,” Dr Lines said.
“The therapy spaces are already helping children to not only better regulate their emotions, but also ensure they can feel safe and happy while here with Act for Kids.”
“Each project we realize brings us one step closer to having a tangible impact on youth Australians in need, and we’re thrilled to be instrumental in creating a safe space here at the Act for Kids Broadmeadows therapy centre,” said Priscilla Heathwood, State Manager Victoria, Property Industry Foundation.
“Thank you to the generosity of our Building Partner, Buildcorp and our landscape and gardening partners Jeavons and RORR Landscapes for creating this unique therapeutic garden,” Ms Heathwood said.
In April to June this year, the Broadmeadows team delivered more than 300 therapy sessions to more than 40 clients.
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