Max’s Story

Withdrawn and alone

Life for Max was very lonely. He was shown very little love and affection.

During the lockdown period – which resulted from the global pandemic – both of his parents lost their jobs and were at home with Max.

There were no games, fun or learning experiences in Max’s home. Max’s abuse increased significantly. He was left to his own devices, with no adult supervision or interaction with his parents on most days.

Due to the seriousness of Max’s situation, he was removed from his parents’ care and placed with his grandmother, Shirley. As a result of the trauma he had suffered at the hands of his parents, Max had severe developmental delays. His speech and language was limited, and he was socially withdrawn. Max only communicated using simple gestures such as pointing and using single words.

Sadly, it’s not uncommon for children who are abused and neglected to find it difficult to interact positively with other people or express themselves using words. They struggle to understand their own feelings and frequently feel overwhelmed.

Max became very attached to his grandmother, and he struggled to safely leave her side. He would suffer separation anxiety whenever he was away from her.

Desperate to help Max heal from the trauma he had experienced so that he could lead a happier life, Shirley contacted the team at Act for Kids.

" Five-year-old Max is a victim of significant child abuse. He had suffered severe verbal, physical and emotional abuse and neglect at the hands of his parents who were supposed to love and protect him. "

Help arrives.....

Every Monday, Max and Shirley visit Act for Kids, where Max receives speech therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological support to build on his relationship with his grandmother, encourage safe separation, and develop speech and language skills. After two months of intensive therapy, Max had a breakthrough.

One Monday morning, the normally very reserved and anxious little boy had a big smile on his face. He told his therapist that he “loves Mondays” because he can spend time with his grandmother doing fun activities, and that makes him feel really happy.

Max is now communicating using phrases and short sentences with a range of vocabulary and expression, resulting in improved outcomes at home and at school.

However, due to Max’s complex learning needs, his therapy has become more intensive from one session to the next, and so the Act for Kids team have been working with Shirley to help her develop a range of skills and activities so that she can engage with Max at home and keep him busy, interested and entertained, while also promoting his language and overall learning – on days that aren’t Monday.

Abuse and neglect

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

The majority (54%) experience emotional abuse, followed by neglect (21%). 15% experience physical abuse and 10% 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

Max and his team of caring adults still have work to do. And that’s where you come in.

Although Max continues to improve, he still struggles with anxiety and will need long-term support to help him overcome his past experiences. He has experienced a lot of trauma already in his short life, but with continued support and positive reinforcement, Max will go on to achieve his full potential, expressing himself with confidence, and he will no longer be filled with fear and apprehension in the future.

In a recent therapy session, Max said that every day is starting to feel like Monday – happy and fun.

The bigger problem


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

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.

More stories

Jared’s Story

10 year old Jared suffered significant neglect living with his mother who had mental health problems. His life was unpredictable, he rarely attended school and often became angry.

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
      Max. file size: 300 MB.