Susana Dudas e Silva, Domestic Violence Crisis Service (Canberra)
The Young People’s Outreach Program (YPOP) is based in Canberra, ACT and it is part of the Domestic Violence Crisis Service. YPOP Child and Family Practitioners work with parents and children who have been impacted by domestic and family violence, are no longer experiencing abuse but need support in their trauma recovery.
YPOP practitioners work with children between the ages of 5 – 12 who are showing certain behaviours as a result of the trauma of their experiences. These may be outward behaviours, such as re-enacting violent or abusive behaviours, disruptions at school, problems with peers and friends; or inward behaviours, such as becoming more withdrawn, quiet, problems connecting with friends and family, disinterest in activities they previously enjoyed. YPOP recognises that children are part of a family and for the program to be effective, both parents and children need to want to engage and the situation at home needs to be safe.
YPOP has changed considerably over the years. It first started ten years ago with the aim of working with adolescents who were using violence in their homes. Along the years, as research emerged around the benefits of early intervention with children exposed to violence, YPOP evolved to early intervention with primary school aged children. This presentation discusses the benefits of early intervention, especially rebuilding the parent-child relationship. In early intervention, the best outcome for trauma recovery is to strengthen children’s resilience by improving the parent-child relationship. Empowering parents with the strengths and resources they already possess and creating a trauma informed understanding of their children’s experiences of violence, leads to better outcomes for the child, their ongoing development and wellbeing.