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Emerge and Kingston Council join forces to help support children impacted by family violence

10 December 2018

Children who have experienced family violence will work with robots in an innovative therapy program supported by Emerge Women & Children’s Support Network and Kingston Council.

The Little Sparkz to Bright Minds project supports young children in kindergarten and early primary years to process and recover from trauma associated with family violence.

 The ‘Matlda’ robots work alongside therapists and teachers to keep children engaged and occupied during one-on-one therapy sessions and were developed by Professor Rhajiv Khosla, Director of the Research Centre for Computers, Communication and Social Innovation at La Trobe University.

 Emerge’s Executive Officer, Paula Westhead said a successful pilot project had been run with toddlers and would now be expanded to meet the needs of children.

“The program will be facilitated by therapists and child case workers who are experienced in addressing psychological problems that many traumatised children face,” Ms Westhead said.  “For instance, some children may speak slowly or not all, while some cannot comprehend what is being said, read or conveyed. These children are often in need of extra support and may lack initiative and confidence.”

Emerge will undertake ongoing assessments of the program to monitor its progress across a number of areas, including recovery from trauma, improving interactions and preparation for early learning.

Kingston Council Mayor Georgina Oxley said Council was proud to support the project with a $182,000 three-year grant.

“This new partnership between Emerge and Kingston Council has the potential to break new ground in Victoria, supporting children to recover from the trauma experienced due to family violence,” Cr Oxley said.

“It links with Kingston’s Family Violence Strategy, will make a positive difference in our community and we hope to see the pilot program rolled out to other areas across Melbourne.”

The support program will be available to children from refuges, foster care and to children identified by Maternal Child Health Centres, Child Care Centres and schools.

To find out more about Matlda, visit:

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