The fifth round of Friends With Dignity’s Little Friends Scholarship Program kicked off last week, giving opportunities to Aussie children who have faced, or are currently facing, domestic or family violence.

An Australian first, the program awards monetary scholarships twice a year. The scholarships help cover a variety of expenses, from helping kids attend camp and after-school activities with their peers to providing uniforms.

So far, Friends With Dignity – the 2018 Australian Charity of the Year – has awarded 120 scholarships to kids in need. This time around, they plan to give out over 40.

“Two scholarships are guaranteed to be awarded per state or territory, with the remaining balance being awarded on an ‘as needs’ basis,” said Friends With Dignity Director and Chief Financial Officer, Julia McKenna. “So far we have received applications from most states, however, we now hope to see applications from the Northern Territory and Tasmania this round.

”Normally, all Friends With Dignity programs operate on a referral basis from organisations and refugees. However, the Friends With Dignity Little Friends Scholarship program affords parents the opportunity to submit an application personally – a game-changer for parents and children who are still facing domestic violence situations.

“The Little Friends Scholarship program gives parents the opportunity to tell their children’s stories, and how the scholarship will improve their lives,” said Julia. “The application still needs to be co-signed by a support worker, GP, school principal, school counsellor, or the like.”

According to the Childhood Domestic Violence Association, it has been statistically proven that children who are exposed to domestic violence can experience short- and long-term negative mental, behavioural, and social effects. What’s more, children who witness physical, emotional or verbal domestic violence growing up are twice as likely to abuse drugs, and six times more likely to die by suicide.

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

Friends With Dignity launched the Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund in round three, in response to requests from the community and general public to contribute. Donations to the Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund can be large or small, with all funds received pooled together in $500 amounts (the size of a scholarship). All donations over $2 are tax deductible.

Now, 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. In particular, they are hopeful that more corporates will come on board to help young victims.

“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,” says Julia. “The scholarships are designed to help young domestic violence survivors re-build their confidence by finding something they are good at, and ensuring their education continues.

“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,” says Julia.

Anyone interested to apply for the Little Friends Scholarship Program can visit www.friendswithdignity.org.au/little-friends-scholarship to download an application form. Round five applications open on the 22nd of July, 2019, and close on the 23rd of August, 2019.

The Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund website can be found at MyCause.



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