Children that have witnessed or experienced physical violence in the home suffer from a form of complex trauma. In response, they develop ways to survive by shutting down their feelings and they stop trusting or believing others will care for and protect them. They often withdraw into themselves.
Leaving their homes and possessions behind compounds the trauma and children entering refuges experience the same levels of grief and loss as children who lose their family home and belongings after a natural disaster such as flood or fire.
We aim to:
• alleviate some of those feelings of grief and loss
• reduce anxiety levels
• increase self-esteem
• restore their belief that others will care for and protect them
• provide immediate access to items specifically chosen to keep the children busy and as distracted as possible from the reality of their situation.
The overall desired outcome is to reduce the deep and lasting impacts that the children’s displacement can have on their development physically, emotionally, and cognitively.
Our Sunshine Swags are given to children as they enter a domestic and family violence refuge. Each swag is filled with age-appropriate and gender-appropriate items that are theirs to keep. The swags are designed to meet their immediate needs and to re-assure them that they are valued and cared about. Refuge workers and previous refuge clients (including mums and children) all helped to determine the ideal contents.
Contents are grouped into items that:
• Bring comfort
• Keep hands busy
• Keep bodies busy
• Keep brains busy
• Are everyday essentials
• Provide opportunities for mums and children to have quality time together
It costs $150 to provide a child with a Sunshine Swag.