Lacey-Jane’s Story

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

Kids who are abused and neglected can find it difficult to express themselves in words or interact positively with other children. They struggle to understand their feelings and frequently feel overwhelmed.

Anxious and afraid

Lacey-Jane had been severely neglected by her mum throughout her short life. She spent a lot of time around unsafe adults who often frightened her. She found it hard to play with other children and was constantly anxious, fearful and overwhelmed. Lacey-Jane didn’t know how to put her feelings into words and instead became aggressive when she felt upset or threatened.

Anxious and afraid

Running away

When she started prep, Lacey-Jane found it hard to fit in. She couldn’t communicate with the other kids, and began lashing out and throwing things. Every day she ran away from school.

" Constantly fearful and on high alert, abused kids can become very anxious when faced with new experiences such as starting school, causing them to lash out or run away. "

Couldn’t find the words

Lacey-Jane was spending more time at home and less time at school, when she was referred to Act for Kids’ Early Education Program (EEP) kindy. At first meeting new people was hard for Lacey-Jane, and her anxiety meant she couldn’t express herself in words.

How we helped

The smaller number of students at Act for Kids’ kindy really helped Lacey-Jane to practice some of the social skills she needed to make friends and engage in learning.

Our integrated therapy team including a Psychologist, Occupational Therapist, Speech Pathologist, Teacher and Teacher Aid who helped Lacey-Jane verbalise and understand her feelings so she could learn to respond differently and work through her difficult experiences.


They discovered Lacey-Jane was very artistic and found it easier to communicate her feelings through drawing. In these drawings she used lots of detail, which was unusual for her age.

Her drawings contained lots of ‘bad people’ drawn in red with very angry eyebrows, ‘good people’ were drawn in black and often faceless. No matter how many ‘good people’ were drawn on the page they were always outnumbered by ‘baddies’.

" Through our art and play therapy sessions, Lacey-Jane would act out scenarios of fear, ever present danger and having to be extra alert. "

She slowly moved to including the ‘good people’ who would rescue some of the toys. The shift in play suggested she was beginning to feel safer and learning that it was possible to trust others.

Lacey-Jane now expresses herself verbally and uses less physical actions when she is angry. Her positive learning experiences at Act for Kids have helped her transition to school when she continues to receive our support.

The bigger problem


Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2016-17

Abuse and neglect

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

The majority (48%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (24%). 16% experience physical abuse and 12% 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.

Early intervention makes a world of difference

It takes a lot of hard play to heal little hearts. Although Lacey-Jane continues to make improvements she still struggles with crowds and will need long-term support to help her really overcome her experiences. She has had to cope with a lot of trauma already in her short life, but with continued support and positive reinforcement she will go on to achieve her full potential, expressing herself with confidence, and no longer filled with fear and anxiety.
Thank you for helping us to give these kids the childhood they truly deserve.


Thank you for supporting our vision for all kids to have a safe and happy childhood and a brighter future.

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.

Read next

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More stories

Melissa and Jasmine

Melissa was only 7 years old and her older sister Jasmine 13, when they had witnessed and experienced significant trauma in their lives. They were exposed to substance abuse, domestic violence and neglect.

Thomas’ Story

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

Jessica’s Story

When mum got drunk, Jessica, aged three, would hide for hours in a darkened stairwell to try and avoid being beaten.



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