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Family safety, pets, and grants for innovative social programs

12 November 2019

Safe Pets

The following article refers to issues of Domestic and Family Violence. If you need support, contact 1800RESPECT.

There are many factors that delay the victims of Domestic Violence and their families leaving violent relationships. One of the less reported issues contributing to delay is family pets.

Abusers often use pets against their victims making leaving the situation difficult - if not impossible - with the family pet under threat.

Emergency accommodation and refuges aren’t set up to accommodate pets, further hindering escape.

An innovative organisation, Safe Pets Safe Families (SPSF), in South Australia is making positive inroads in the area. SPSF is a community organisation which fosters pets while the victims of dangerous, often violent, relationships, escape to find housing.

According to SPSF, pets aren’t restricted to dogs and cats. They can range from horses, chickens, even geese, and the need for the service is growing. SPSF reported that 112 pets came into its foster care system in the first half of 2019 alone.

SPSF also provides crisis support services for people experiencing homelessness and physical or mental health issues requiring hospitalisation and treatment.

Community organisations like SPSF require grants to continue their work. Grants also allow an organisation and its people to pursue projects they wouldn’t have the chance to pursue otherwise.

Every year Westpac Foundation awards community grants to local organisations making a difference in local communities.

SPSF was awarded a Community Grant this year. SPSF is aiming to run an early intervention program focussing on teaching empathy and positive relationship skills to children at risk. The program is animal assisted.

Another award winner is Camp Kulin run by AgriFutures award winner Tanya Dupagne.

Camp Kulin works with children and adults from more than 200 towns across WA.

“Our focus,” explains Tanya, “is on children and women affected by trauma, such as domestic violence, sexual assault, suicide bereavement and refugees. We receive no ongoing government funding and are supported by a team of over 200 volunteers. Our main programs are Kids Camps and Ladies Camps.”

Westpac Foundation’s grant is earmarked for Camp Kulin’s Aspire Inspire Leadership Camp, targeting women affected by trauma, mental health or who are living in towns struggling with bad years on farms where financial and drought stress are having ongoing psychological and emotional effects on people. The program builds networks, self-esteem and confidence and provides leadership and communication skills.

Westpac Foundation is a charitable organisation (separate from Westpac Group) with a legacy that dates back more than 140 years.

Thomas Buckland, an early Board member of the Bank (formerly known as the Bank of NSW), established The Buckland Fund in 1879 with his £1000 bonus to help employees and their families experiencing financial hardship. The Buckland Fund evolved into Westpac Foundation.

In more recent years, Westpac Foundation has begun to provide funding and programs to support social enterprises and community organisations creating jobs and opportunities for people facing barriers to mainstream employment.

Social enterprises are businesses that exist primarily to fulfil a social or environmental purpose. An employment-focused social enterprise (which is the type Westpac Foundation support) focuses on creating meaningful employment for people experiencing disadvantage (for example people with disability, youth at risk or refugees and asylum seekers). There are 7000 of these enterprises in Australia, which together employ 300,000 people.

In addition to its financial contribution, Westpac Foundation also offers grant recipients a range of non-financial support designed to increase the organisation’s financial sustainability and social impact. This support includes business mentoring and skilled volunteering by Westpac Group employees.