Friends With Dignity To Support DV Children with Scholarship Program

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Australian Charity of the Year 2018, Friends With Dignity, will soon launch the fourth round of its Little Friends Scholarship program.

The program, which is an Australian-first, awards bi-annual monetary scholarships to children throughout Australia who have faced, or are facing, domestic or family violence.

The educational and extra-curricular scholarships help to cover a variety of expenses from helping kids attend camp and after-school activities with their peers, to providing uniforms.

The first three rounds of the program have seen a total of 68 scholarships awarded, with a minimum of 40 scholarships on offer in round four.

"Two scholarships are guaranteed to be awarded per State or Territory, with the 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.

"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.

"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 not-for-profit organisation responded to requests from the community to contribute to their Little Friends Scholarship program by launching the Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund in round three, allowing the general public to also help children in need.

"Donations to the Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund can be large or small. All funds received will be pooled together in $500 amounts (the size of a scholarship), and all donations over $2 are tax deductible."

Normally, all Friends With Dignity programs are on a referral basis from organisations and refuges, however, the Friends With Dignity Little Friends Scholarship program affords parents the opportunity to submit an application personally.

"The Little Friends Scholarship program gives parents the opportunity to tell their children's stories, and how the scholarship will improve their lives," said Ms McKenna.

"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 is statistically proven that exposure to domestic violence has a huge impact on children. Experts say that exposure can lead to short- and long-term negative mental, behavioural, and social effects.

Further, 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. Some even with PTSD, which we would equate to that suffered by our servicemen and women returning from a war zone," said Ms McKenna.

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.

The national not-for-profit organisation is interested in more corporates coming on board to help these young victims, to ensure every child has the ability to further their education and/or build their confidence through sport or the arts.

"We have had a fabulous response from the corporate sector, with not only our long-standing scholarship partner Jeunesse Kids supporting the initiative, but also the Commonwealth Bank Foundation, the Sisters of Charity and The Milton Corporation Foundation," said Ms McKenna.

"In round three, we had a large private donation from Toowoomba-based philanthropists Lyndon and Rebekah Biernoff, and even a donations from St Aidan's Anglican Girls' School and the Miami State School Student Council.

"We are especially hoping to attract corporate support in other States now that we can demonstrate that each State will be awarded a minimum of two scholarships, so children in their own backyard will benefit."

"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," said Ms McKenna.

Anyone interested to apply for the Little Friends Scholarship Program can visit: http://www.friendswithdignity.org.au/little-friends-scholarship to download an application form. Round four applications open on the 29th of January, 2019, and close on the 24th of February, 2019.

The Little Friends Scholarship Community Fund website can be found at MyCause: https://www.mycause.com.au/page/179288/little-friends-scholarship-community-fund. 
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