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School holiday healing at Harmony Place

A new school holiday program for children escaping domestic violence is already resulting in positive outcomes, including improved social skills and language development.

Families fleeing violent relationships often leave their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

Rebuilding lives, finding a safe and secure home, and providing an income to support a family can be an arduous journey and leaves very little room for anything else.

The freedom of school holidays and a chance to let off steam and connect with friends is something that most schoolchildren take for granted.

But for the families Ruah Community Services support at Harmony Place, a refuge for women and children escaping domestic violence, fun is a luxury they rarely had the finances or the freedom to provide for their children.

Thanks to a donation from corporate partner Mineral Resources (MinRes), Ruah recently implemented a school holiday program for families staying with us at Harmony Place.

The program is a two-week calendar of events and activities that allow families to spend time quite simply having fun.

“It’s been amazing to be able to say ‘yes’ to clients who want to be able to include their kids in activities that are normally so out of reach for them”, Harmony Place Child Advocate Marielle said.

The incredible program included a visit to an animal farm, bowling, family movies, arts and crafts and even a trip to Rottnest island.

“Most, if not all, of the clients had never been to Rottnest due to the cost associated. So many of the mums expressed how excited and happy they were to take their kids on an activity that is normally not attainable,” Marielle said.

Children are too often the silent victims of family and domestic violence, My Story My Time Survivor and Advocate Champo said.

“The kids are part of the triangle, because where there’s violence, whether or not he’s using violence towards the kids, they’re seeing it, they’re hearing it and they get affected by it,” Champo said.

MinRes Chief People and Shared Services Officer Bronwyn Grieve said she was proud the Harmony Place holiday program was up and running with the support of MinRes.

“The ripple effect of family and domestic violence is devastating, and that’s why MinRes is committed to being part of the movement to end violence in our community. We’re really pleased we have been able to play a role in helping these children heal,” Ms Grieve said.

The Harmony Place school holiday program has received amazing feedback from families and in just two weeks the Child Advocates reported noticeable improvements in the children’s socialisation skills, language development, attachment with caregivers and fine motor skills.

The program is being planned again for the forthcoming July school holidays.