The coronavirus pandemic is amplifying the vulnerability of people in Ballarat and surrounding communities, including children who have experienced trauma and anxiety.
The needs of vulnerable children will be greater throughout the coming months and services expect the demand for support to grow.
Staff at WRISC Family Violence Support and Berry Street Western Region want people to know help is available throughout the coronavirus pandemic and there are actions families and communities can take to support vulnerable children who may be feeling afraid and uncertain about the future.
"For children who have a lot of anxiety and trauma symptoms from family violence this will be a really hard time for them," WRISC Van Go Program development manager Sally Leslie said.
"We are always worried about children's exposure to family violence but we expect it could be harder for women to seek help at this point and we are worried always about that impact on children.
It really takes a toll on their mental health and their personal well-being.Andrew Lowth, Berry Street Western
"At the same time we really realise mums do their best and the family violence is not their fault, the perpetrator is the cause of those issues."
Berry Street Regional Director Western Andrew Lowth said children may not have access to their regular supports at school, services, from people in their families and communities.
"It really takes a toll on their mental health and their personal well-being," he said.
Ms Leslie said it was important parents were aware each child with a history of trauma and anxiety would respond differently, including possibly acting out or being withdrawn.
"They need lots of reassurance, no matter what their behaviour is, by parents speaking kindly and listening," she said.
Ms Leslie said families should work to set new routines at home and parents should explain the situation to their children without overwhelming them with coronavirus information.
"Also try to allow them space for fun and games as well to be able to forget and have some down time," she said.
"For parents it is really important they look after themselves and their mental health so they can look after their children."
Mr Lowth said children should maintain connections with their friends and family through technology, but parents should make sure children are using the technology appropriately.
WRISC continues to offer phone support to women, including addressing worries about their children.
"We are here, reach out if you need support," Ms Leslie said.
"That is for people in outlying communities and rural communities in Moorabool, Golden Plains, Hepburn Shire and Pyrenees as well, because they will be even more isolated."
Berry Street is continuing phone support as well as face to face support with appropriate precautions.
"We are an essential service and we want to make sure people can still rely on us to help them through really difficult times," Mr Lowth said.
"For most young people and families, this is a much more difficult time than normal circumstances.
"What we need to do as a community is make sure we are continuing to reach out to those who are most vulnerable and make sure they know there are support services for them."
Contact WRISC on 5333 3666 or Berry Street on 5330 5000.
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