ONE in FOUR children are exposed to domestic violence in Australia
That is 25% of Australian children are impacted by domestic violence! Many people in our community are faced with situations that can be difficult to comprehend. I would like to tell you about Belinda*, here is her story.
Belinda* has been visiting our Meals Plus service regularly for the last few weeks. She is a naturally shy person and so it is hard work for her to interact and engage with new people. Belinda is also new to the area and therefore she does not, as yet, have a network of friends to support her and so is at risk of social isolation. With two children, Belinda was forced to relocate from her home in the country to escape from domestic violence by her partner.
Belinda has already faced many distressing experiences in her young life. Throughout her childhood, Belinda suffered from sexual assault, at the hands of her father. She has undergone counseling to work through the trauma, but it remains painful. Incredibly, despite Belinda’s traumatic upbringing, she has been able to work consistently her whole life and even commenced studying, even though she is without access to a computer. Belinda is currently taking a break from her studies to manage her new diabetic diagnoses and is living in transitional housing through Parramatta Mission. We will continue to journey alongside Belinda in her recovery as she walks towards interdependence.
Imagine being in Belinda’s situation…. Where would you go if you had nowhere to live?
Tragically, there are many people like Belinda and many more without access to the essential support they urgently need. Indeed, homelessness is increasing in Australia. In the Parramatta region alone there has been almost a 20% increase in homelessness from 2015 to 2016**.
Domestic violence is the principle cause of homelessness for women and their children. When they have nowhere to go they are often forced to stay with the perpetrator of their abuse.
On average, one woman is killed every week by a current or former partner.
Once someone is homeless, they can fall into a cycle that is difficult to break. It isn’t as simple as many people may think; they cannot just get a job because you can’t get a job without an address. Homelessness has strong links to declining mental health and so the downward spiral can continue unless appropriate assistance is in place.
Every week at Parramatta Mission, Meals Plus service we provide breakfast and lunch to approximately 500 people facing homelessness, crisis and emergency situations, and many who are sleeping rough. This service is an essential entry point where the people, like Belinda, can access a range of other services that will meet their specific needs. Indeed, many of the people we walk alongside with every day struggle with issues from domestic violence, mental illness as well as homelessness and so we work to provide holistic care that will truly transform their lives.
We are experiencing increased demands on our services as more people are contacting us for essential support. This year, with the early onset of the torrential rain, we have experienced an even greater demand than expected on our already limited resources. We simply must increase our resources to provide for the needs we see.
You can help us meet needs this winter.