Cornucopia Committee Inc

Raising funds for the prevention and treatment of child abuse since 1963

60 Years
60 Years

Cornucopia Committee Inc

Raising funds for the prevention and treatment of child abuse since 1963

60 Years
Cornucopia Committee Inc

Raising funds for the prevention and treatment of child abuse since 1963

2024 Charity Race Day Guest Speaker – Robyn Lamb, Co-Head CPU, Westmead.

25 May 2024

Welcome and thank you for coming today and supporting the Cornucopia Committee in their mission to help children and families where there has been abuse and neglect.

I would like to acknowledge that we are here today on the land of the Bijigal and Gadigal of the Eora nation/who are the Traditional Owners of this Land. I acknowledge any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people attending today, and I pay my respects to the Elders past, present and emerging.

I also want to acknowledge, from a Child Protection standpoint, we have not done things as well as we could have in the past around our Aboriginal communities. We will do better, and we will do this together.
I will only take a few of minutes of your time and enjoyment from the day to spotlight why we are here – the Maltreatment of children. I am very thankful that by you being here means you want a society where children are safe and healthy and ultimately maltreatment does not occur.

In 2023 the Australian Child Maltreatment Study was released. This was the first national study of all five types of child maltreatment (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, and exposure to domestic violence) and their associated outcomes in Australia. It surveyed 8503 randomly selected Australians (aged 16-65+).

The findings are deeply sobering. Child maltreatment is widespread in Australia and associated with early and persistent harm. It found that Australians who experience maltreatment are substantially more likely to have mental health disorders, health risk behaviours, higher health service utilisation.

It found among 16-24 olds:

1 in 4 children have experienced physical abuse

Another 1 in 4 have been victims of sexual abuse

1 in 3 experienced emotional abuse and 1in 2 experienced family and domestic violence

  • (40.2%) experience >1 type of abuse
  • (25.4%) experience 3-5 types
  • 3.7% experience all 5 types

The study confirmed what many clinicians have long suspected, which is, that there is a strong association between child maltreatment and mental health disorders in late teen and adulthood, including, Depression, anxiety, PTSD and alcohol use. Child maltreatment dramatically increases the likelihood of 3 serious health risk behaviours, cannabis dependence, self-harm, and suicide attempts.

These findings represent deep human suffering resulting from interpersonal violence. The adverse outcomes are severe and take root in childhood and continue across a lifespan and impact on both girls and boys.

There has been much discourse in the media about DV, and violence perpetrated against women. What must not be forgotten, however is that children are the silent victims of this family violence.

Children see, feel, and hear the violence. Just like other forms of abuse it is hard for children to speak out about what is happening at home, and they suffer in silence, but the emotional and psychological impacts are great. shows us.

Picture how a child feels living with the physical violence, negative words, put downs, humiliation, unpredictability of their environment, will tonight be safe, what is my plan if dad comes home drunk. Children are often used as a way of coercive control and a pawn in these situations. They become hypervigilant, and experience fear, tension, sadness all the opposite of what they need, safety, stability, a loving environment.

Domestic violence hurts children’s self-esteem. These children experience physical symptoms, problems communicating, regressing developmentally, learning problems and may not participate in school activities or get good grades, have fewer friends than others, and get into trouble more often, they often have difficulty managing their emotions, being bullied or bullying others, increased antisocial behaviour, being increasingly anxious or scared, hurting or inflicting cruelty on animals or other children, sleep problems, such as nightmares and bedwetting and show signs of severe separation anxiety.

Sadly these children are at greater risk for repeating the cycle as adults by entering into abusive relationships or becoming abusers themselves. For example, a boy who sees his mother being abused is 10 times more likely to abuse his female partner as an adult. A girl who grows up in a home where her father abuses her mother is more than six times as likely to be sexually abused as a girl who grows up in a non-abusive home.

Despite the death of Luke Batty by his father in 2014 and all his mother Rosie’s advocacy we still hear of too many similar cases and we struggle to find ways to respond. We need targeted interventions and enhanced prevention measures if change is to occur.

Funds raised today will go into some of this work at the Hospital both prevention and intervention.

We aim to upskill all staff to recognise the signs and respond early through educational forums.

We will be introducing a trauma informed care framework to promote healing and prevent exacerbation of trauma that all staff will embed in practice.

Developed a SW new model of care for assessment and intervention of DV and provided associated training packages. This requires resource to ensure SW’s continue to upskill and implement it.

Developing Integrated models of care so there is no wrong door, and we wrap services around a patient and family, so children do not fall through the gaps Huddle for Change.

We are hoping to have resources more readily available for women and introduce the screening of all females attending our services over the age of 16 years.

We have seen the expansion of NO Hit Zone across the Network- this is the only Hospital in Australia to have introduced this program which aims to spotlight the impact of violence on children to build parent capacity including alternatives to hitting
We continue to develop the LINKS clinic a development assessment clinic for vulnerable families linking them back to the community resources.

These all take investment both in staffing, training and resources for families.

Now is the time to invest and put children at the forefront. There is a moral and economic imperative for all of us including Australian governments to develop a coordinated long-term plan for generational reform. Thank you for listening and your support into helping to change children’s lives.

Robyn Lamb speaking at the Cornucopia Committee 2024 Charity Race Day

Little Girl

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