Waratah children's service supporting South West youth

A holistic approach: Waratah senior counsellor Gemma Miles and clinical manager Susan Henderson. Photo: Emily Sharp.
A holistic approach: Waratah senior counsellor Gemma Miles and clinical manager Susan Henderson. Photo: Emily Sharp.

As cases of domestic violence and sexual assault continue to rise there is one South-West service focusing on the importance of supporting children who have been impacted, with the need growing.

Waratah provides free, specialised intervention services for people who have experienced sexual assault and/or family domestic violence.

Waratah's Children's Service sees more than 300 children each year with five dedicated counsellors treating young people for trauma.

Clinical manager Susan Henderson said while the demand for the service was increasing, children could still be seen within four weeks.

"At the moment there is a two to three week wait-list, which is rather unusual for us. I think the increase is partly due to a system change we've done and the referral pathways are working smoothly and improving," she said.

"We have outreach in Collie as well as Busselton and our numbers there have certainly increased."

Ms Henderson said the links between the adult and children's services was improving, with families coming together and being properly supported on all levels.

"The focus of Waratah is on the therapy - the general well-being of parents and children is greatly improved if you're able to manage trauma," she said.

"It reduces later addictive behaviours and breaking cycles early - it's a preventative measure in many ways.

"It provides children with a place to tell secrets, to be validated and to be heard in a safe space."

Ms Henderson said financial donations would be greatly appreciated to be able to meet the increasing need across the region.

"Safety is the highest priority for us - it's a holistic approach and it's not medicalised," she said.

Senior counsellor Gemma Miles said the complexity of why children needed counselling was changing with there being up to 10 issues needing addressing where it was once five to six.

Parents are encouraged to self-refer their children to the service by calling Waratah. For more visit waratah.asn.au.

If you or someone you know needs help, contact 1800 017 303.