For family violence victim Gemma*, receiving support from a mobile therapy bus has helped her children aged four and eight recover from their experiences of family violence.
Gemma and her children have accessed family therapy, group therapy and one on one therapy through the Van Go Therapy Bus in Moorabool Shire.
The innovative model of child-centred therapeutic services has operated as a trial project in the Moorabool Shire since 2017, providing support to families in rural areas that may struggle to travel to regional centres.
Renewed Victorian Government funding for the project announced in Ballarat on Wednesday will enable the service to continue in Moorabool Shire and be expanded to Golden Plains and Hepburn next year.
"Not a lot of people realise the emotional effects family violence has on children, even as young as newborn babies," Gemma said.
"The Van Go service has helped me identify triggers and ways to help my kids deal with it. The one on one sessions have really helped the kids within themselves learn how to deal with their experiences.
"The kids are so much more confident. My oldest has caught up with all his school work, there is hardly any aggression anymore and his anxiety levels have dropped down. He is doing really really well, which makes me feel positive for his future."
Staffed by therapists, the Van Go Therapy Bus travels to schools and other locations to offer tailored therapeutic support including art, music and play therapy to infants, children and young people.
If we are going to break cycles of violence in our community, we have to make sure we are dealing with trauma from a very young age.Gabrielle Williams, Victorian Prevention of Family Violence Minister
Group therapy addresses issues such as isolation and family therapy can focus on repairing bonds between carers and their children.
Victorian Prevention of Family Violence Minister Gabrielle Williams said innovative programs like this were key to breaking the cycle of violence and ensuring the well-being of children into the future.
"If we are going to break cycles of violence in our community, we have to make sure we are dealing with trauma from a very young age," she said in Ballarat on Wednesday.
"This is one way we ensure children aren't carrying the negative effects of violence in their family homes into their adulthood where they could get into a cycle in which they become victims themselves or perpetrators."
Th Van Go Project supported 202 children and their families in its first 15 months of operation.
WRISC Family Violence Support executive officer Libby Jewson said music, art and play allowed children to express their experiences of family violence in a way they may not be able to talk about.
"Once they are able to talk about the family violence in this therapeutic way, it helps them to start to feel like they can be part of their family, their school and their classroom, leading to a much more healthy development process," she said.
The Royal Commission into Family Violence highlighted the need for therapeutic interventions that are well-tailored to the diverse identities of Victorians and focused on the needs of children and young people.
Evidence shows the impact of family violence and trauma on children is long term.
The Van Go Project is run by the Family Violence - Creative and Therapeutic Services Coinsortium formed by WRISC, Ballarat Community Health and Berry Street.
*not her real name