For many families in Western Australia the realities of child sexual abuse are all too real. Sadly the reality of caring for a child who has experienced trauma from abuse can mean years of intensive therapeutic treatment, not just for the child but for the entire family, in order to heal their pain and suffering.
In 2011, Parkerville Children and Youth Care opened the doors to the George Jones Child Advocacy Centre, the very first purpose built facility of its kind in Australia. The centre is home to a host of services aimed at providing children and their families with a range of supports and specialist services. Now it also has the very first Multiagency Investigation and Support Team (MIST) which comprises of a police investigation unit, child protection workers, specialist child interviewers, psychological therapeutic services and Child and Family Advocates.
The overall goal for the Child Advocacy Centre is to provide all crucial services to a child or young person and their families in one community base centre, reducing the likelihood of re-traumatisation and allowing for all agencies to work together for the benefit of the victim and their families.
I sat down with two mothers of children who had experienced unspeakable abuse at the hands of trusted adults. We discussed the realities of supporting their children who had experienced multiple forms of abuse including sexual, physical, emotional and neglect. We discussed their experience at the George Jones Child Advocacy Centre and the impact the team and in particular the Child and Family Advocates had on helping them along the long road to recovery.
My first interview was with Amy (all names have been changed), an incredible woman who’s non-biological child had experienced horrific trauma whilst in the care of his biological mother. The abuse occurred over many years until one day by chance the case was picked up by local police and a referral was made to the team at the George Jones Child Advocacy Centre.
‘We were first introduced to the Child Advocacy Centre through the WA police – Daniel had an interview with them and we were introduced to our wonderful family advocate. We were then referred over to the paediatrician at the centre who worked with the MIST team.
This process was a bit scary but the entire team at the Advocacy Centre has been brilliant, it is a life saver not just for Daniel – I don’t know where we would be if they weren’t here for him but the fact they are also here for us as a family has been fantastic. Daniel loves coming here and we have seen a dramatic improvement in his behaviour.
When asked about Daniel’s recovery Amy responded
Daniel is getting better – he has his good and bad days but is getting better at being able to regulate his emotions. He is having regular catch-ups with his psychologist each week. ‘Without this facility I don’t even know if I could cope to be honest. I could not speak highly enough.’
Recently off and on Daniel’s sexualised behaviours have been directed at his younger sibling. The team at the centre have been notified so they are now providing protective behaviour lessons and therapeutic support for my younger daughter – that extended support is brilliant
Julie was the second mother I interviewed whose children had also experienced very complex trauma as a result of child abuse.
‘Through the interview process it was a bit up and down with *Sam, however the team at the Centre made step’s to build rapport, the interview team came into our home so they could see the kids in their home environment and so the kids got used to them.
It’s a really great process how they do it so the kids don’t feel scared and make them feel comfortable.
I thought I was going to be doing this on my own and it was going to be a long hard road where I was just going to give up but instead I get support and I can come to my Child Family Advocate and she goes out of her way.
I want to see more of these centres everywhere – they need it in country towns. I have nothing bad to say no downfalls – we just need more of these.
Both women interviewed could not speak highly enough of the support and guidance they received from the team and the Child and Family Advocates, who have been alongside them throughout their journey.
If you could see yourself helping families through some of the greatest challenges they will face then please visit our careers page on our website and apply today.
Child and Family Advocate
Full-time (12 month contract with possibility of continuation)
Your chance to make a real difference!
Come and work at WA’s first Child Advocacy Centre with our specialist team of psychologists and Child & Family Advocates.
We have an exciting opportunity for a highly skilled and dedicated professional to become a Child & Family Advocate. This full-time position will work with children and families at their most crucial time of need to provide support and advocacy following child sex abuse disclosure.
This position is based at the George Jones Child Advocacy Centre in Armadale with some outreach work to other locations. We are seeking a dynamic, motivated and experienced practitioner to work alongside our multidisciplinary team and our current Child and Family Advocates.
This work is challenging but the team is cohesive and innovative, and that drives us along. If you are focused on making a positive difference in the lives of some of our most vulnerable children and families, then visit the careers page of our website for more details on the role and how to apply.
Applications close COB Friday, 25 August 2017.