Wesley Mission Calls for Government Action on Childhood Trauma
3 December 2007 at 12:40 pm
Wesley Mission Sydney has called on the newly elected Federal Labor Government to implement a comprehensive strategy to respond to childhood trauma and adversity following research which reveals high levels of abuse in the community.
The research found that of people who had suffered abuse, 33 per cent had suffered sexual, physical abuse or violence in the home and 40 per cent had suffered emotional abuse.
The Chief Executive Officer of Wesley Mission, Rev Keith Garner says the Wesley Report – Beyond adversity: giving kids a chance to shine also recommended the appointment of a national independent Commission for Children and a Minister for Children to address the growing problem of child abuse.
Rev Garner says there’s a need for a national strategy and leadership on the issue to see a reverse in the number of children who experience abuse, neglect or household dysfunction in their childhood.
The report shows that a report is made to the police or other agency across Australia every 35 minutes regarding an instance of child abuse, the numbers of notifications have almost doubled over the past five years and our research suggests that many other incidences go unreported.
Wesley Mission originally contacted 1200 people over the age of 25 for the survey of which 612 (50 per cent) had experienced adversity in childhood. Of the 612:
– one-third or more had suffered sexual abuse, physical abuse, violence in the home, addictions in the household and parental break-up
– two in every five had suffered emotional abuse and a quarter, emotional neglect
– for two in five, the problems had occurred between the ages of seven and 10 years; for three in five, the adversity had lasted longer than five years
– only two in five had proved to be resilient to the troubles suffered in adult life.
The Wesley Report says community and government agencies must engage children and families more effectively at first point of contact; and share relevant information with co-agencies to trigger the most effective early intervention strategies.
The Wesley Report also recommends:
– Rigorous evaluations and cost benefit analyses of key early intervention programs to be conducted
– Increased funding for early intervention programs, in line with other developed countries and based on evidence from evaluations
– Greater support for early intervention programs that build the inner strengths and resources of children and;
– The wellbeing of children and their families to be investigated by social, community and government services at the first instance of contact.
It also urges early intervention programs to concentrate on building up a child’s inner strengths as this is the single most powerful factor that helps children to cope with adversity in adult life.
Rev Garner says the research shows that a child’s sense of optimism and determination to get through trouble in adult life are crucial.
He says if early intervention strategies focused on boosting and shaping this inner resource it would help children who lack that optimism and inner strength, and we can then reduce the element of chance in the success of early intervention.
The Wesley Report asked those found to have experienced adversity about the nature and scale of their adversity and what helped them get through their difficulties, with the most helpful factors in coping with childhood adversity including:
– Personal qualities: inner strength, optimism, an easy-going personality, independence
– Love and support within and outside family support from at least one parent or relative (usually a grandparent), support from partner, teachers, friends.
The report can be downloaded at www.wesleymission.org.au/News/research/Beyond_Adversity/Report.asp