Grace’s Story

" At four years old, Grace experienced an extremely traumatic removal from her parents during which she witnessed violence, verbal abuse and threats. She had been exposed to domestic and family violence for years, parental drug use and was severely neglected. "

Children who have been around domestic violence are often highly alert and sensitive to changes in their environment. They're constantly on the look out for cues which might indicate a situation about to turn dangerous.

Jumpy and on edge

When four-year-old Grace came to the Act for Kids she was constantly on edge. She was jumpy, emotionally reactive, had difficulty concentrating, and had difficulty engaging socially with peers.

There were concerns about her ability to enter the school system the following year and to progress and learn with her peers. Grace had not received the attention she needed to develop as she had never lived in a safe environment, making it difficult for her to engage with learning and focus on anything other than her immediate safety.

Teary and terrified

She was constantly terrified and would often become easily upset and cry. She had difficulty engaging appropriately with peers as she was constantly trying to make sense of her experiences. Grace would often engage in play reflecting the trauma she had experienced – scenes that no four year old should ever witness.

Constantly Anxious

How we helped

At Act for Kids, Grace was given a place in the Early Education Program, providing her with specialist educational support given her background of trauma. In this small group environment, her teacher focused on helping Grace establish a sense of safety, routine, and safe relationships with adults and peers that assisted her to feel less threatened. This new environment of safety increased her capacity to focus more on other important aspects of functioning, such as learning, relationships, and wellbeing. Through her engagement with the Early Education Program she has developed skills in the areas of emotional literacy, reading and writing, fine and gross motor skills, and protective behaviours.

Early intervention makes a world of difference

In individual therapy sessions, Grace was provided a safe space to process her experiences of trauma. There was a noticeable change in her engagement, and as she began to feel safer in the space and at the centre, she was able to open up more, be more relaxed, focus more and was not as hyper-vigilant. Although Grace is still impacted by trauma experiences, changes in her presentation are noticeable. Engagement with Act for Kids has also included sessions with Grace’s carer and through the application of a trauma-informed support, goals of facilitating greater understanding of Grace’s behaviours, needs and strengths are starting to be realised.

While we are still working with Grace, she has been able to successfully transition into a formal mainstream prep class, with ongoing support through this transition from her EEP teachers. Grace also receives ongoing school visits from our outreach teacher and will have ongoing therapy sessions and family support available as she navigates the journey into the school system alongside her peers.

Abuse and neglect

" Many children experience multiple forms of abuse and neglect. "

The majority (43%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (26%). One in five (18%) experience physical abuse and 13% experience sexual abuse.

Abuse and neglect can impact a child’s brain development, how they feel and think about themselves, how successful they are at school, even their physical development and skills. In the long term this can lead to drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, difficulty developing and maintaining good relationships, unemployment and all sorts of social disadvantage.

How you can help

We can’t do this important work without your help. We rely heavily on donations to support our intensive therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and early support for families at risk. Your donation will help us keep our doors open and expand our services.

Donate Now

Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Every donation, big or small, combines to make a real difference.


Donate Monthly

Your generosity means we can continue providing our integrated therapy programs for abused and neglected kids, and support services for families.

Becoming a Kids’ Crusader and donating monthly is the best way to help us help kids and families – it means we can direct funds where they’re needed most and make the biggest impact over time.

Workplace giving

As an employee, workplace giving enables you to make a regular donation to Act for Kids through your payroll, directly from your pre-tax pay. This means that you receive an immediate tax saving as it reduces your taxable income.

Donate in your will

By leaving a bequest to Act for Kids, you can make a positive difference to the lives of children and young people who have experienced abuse and neglect. By including Act for Kids in your will, you offer a gift of hope to future generations and you will help us give abused and neglected children the chance to lead safe, happy and fulfilling lives.

Dr Neil Carrington

Act for Kids

Read next

Obsessed and anxious, nine year old Chloe struggles to make sense of her traumatic childhood.

More stories

Aiden’s Story

Five-year-old Maddie was physically, emotionally and verbally abused by her parents from birth, witnessing severe domestic violence and substance abuse, including Ice.

Lacey-Jane’s Story

Neglected and scared, four-and-a-half year old Lacey-Jane began running away from prep school.

Thomas’ Story

At three years old Thomas could barely walk or speak, and his body was covered in scratches.



If you have any questions or would like to access our free counselling and support, please call us directly to discuss or make an appointment.

Completed referral forms can be accessed from the services section on our website and email to or call 1300 228 000

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Referral Services

If you have any questions or would like to access our free counselling and support, please call us directly to discuss or make an appointment.

Completed referral forms can be accessed from the services section on our website and email to or call 07 3850 3200

  • Drop files here or