Scholarships support domestic violence affected children

NURTURING: Friends With Dignity launch new round of the 'Little Friends Scholarship' program to assist children involved in Domestic Violence settings. Photo: Shutterstock
NURTURING: Friends With Dignity launch new round of the 'Little Friends Scholarship' program to assist children involved in Domestic Violence settings. Photo: Shutterstock

Children living in domestic violence settings are twice as likely to abuse drugs and are six times more likely to suicide, it is shared by an Australian support service keen to make a difference.

The alarming data highlighted by the Childhood Domestic Violence Association, adds that children exposed to DV potentially suffer short to long-term negative mental, behavioural and social side effects.

In response, the nonprofit organisation, formerly Makers of Memories Foundation, dedicates it time and resources to helping children involved in DV situations.

The organisation's work has led Australian Charity of the Year 2018, Friends With Dignity to assist and launch its eighth round of the 'Little Friends Scholarship' program.

The Australian-first initiative established in 2017, awards bi-annual monetary scholarships to children throughout Australia who have faced, or are facing, domestic or family violence.

This includes supporting those children living in country South Australia.

According to Friends With Dignity director Julia McKenna, the educational and extracurricular scholarships help to cover a variety of expenses.

This includes helping children to attend camp and after-school activities with their peers, through to providing uniforms.

"Two scholarships are guaranteed to be awarded per state or territory, with the remaining balance being awarded on an 'as needs basis," Ms McKenna said.

Pleasingly, the first seven rounds of the program resulted in a total of 347 Little Friend Scholarships awarded to Aussie children aged between five and 18-years nationally since its launch in 2017, totalling $149,460.

A a minimum of 40 scholarships is now being offered in round eight.

"We established the Little Friends Scholarship program to ensure all children who are facing or have faced domestic violence have the ability to normalise their lives," Ms McKenna explained.

We established the Little Friends Scholarship program to ensure all children who are facing or have faced domestic violence have the ability to normalise their lives.

Friends With Dignity director Julia McKenna

"The scholarships are designed to help young domestic violence survivors rebuild their confidence by finding something they are good at, and ensuring their education continues.

"This initiative is needed now more than ever due to the nature of the lockdown and confinement of Covid, with demand for electronic devices at an all-time high."

In addition, the organisation responded to requests from the community to contribute to the unique program by launching the Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund in round three, allowing the general public to also help children in need.

"Donations to the Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund can be large or small," she said.

All funds received will be pooled together in $500 amounts (the size of a scholarship), and all donations over $2 are tax-deductible.

Generally, all Friends With Dignity programs are on a referral basis from organisations and refuges, however, the Friends With Dignity Little Friends Scholarship program affords parents the opportunity to submit an application personally.

The Little Friends Scholarship program enables parents the opportunity to tell their children's stories, and how the scholarship will improve their lives.

However, the application still needs to be co-signed by a support worker, GP, school principal, school counsellor, or the like.

"Many of the children that have historically applied for a scholarship are suffering from significant trauma. Some even with PTSD, which we would equate to that suffered by our servicemen and women returning from a war zone," she said.

Friends with Dignity is appealing to the corporate sector, charity groups, philanthropists and the community at large to throw their support behind its Little Friends Scholarship Program.

The national organisation is interested in more corporates to help these young victims, to ensure every child has the ability to further their education and/or build their confidence through sport or the arts.

"The need within our communities is so large - the more assistance we can receive in raising funds, the more children can be assisted and know an entire community is behind them and wanting only the best for them," Ms McKenna added.

Round eight applications are open and close on February 26.

To apply for the Little Friends Scholarship Program, the online application can be found at:: https://www.friendswithdignity.org.au/little-friends-scholarship.

The Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund website can be found at MyCause: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/179288/little-friends-scholarship-community-fund.

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