How McAuley supports the mother-child connection

Bonding with babies and nurturing young children can be difficult for mothers who are in a day-to-day struggle to be safe. Pregnancy is known as a high risk factor for violence to begin or escalate.

Across Australia around a quarter of women had their first experience of violence while they were pregnant.

McAuley is piloting a program that will introduce a Maternal and Child Health Nurse  into our integrated suite of supports for women and children.

Supporting children in their own right

McAuley recognises that children’s pain and trauma is unique and different in nature to that of their mothers’ and requires a specialist response.

We have a playroom with a specialist children’s worker. Through art, play and conversation, a child’s feelings about what has happened in their family can be explored.

We focus attention on improving the bond between mothers and their children, which has often been damaged by the violence.

Perpetrators of family violence often use ‘divide and conquer’ techniques to damage or undermine a woman’s ability to parent.

Additionally, many women come to our service traumatised and need help to learn how to respond to the distress and trauma of their children.

To rebuild the mother-child bond, we encourage mothers to attend the playroom alongside their children.

Fun activities such as playdough and slime making, collage art and making bubbles, can recapture simple delight in one  another’s company as well as opening up avenues for conversations about how the children are going, and enabling children’s voices and experiences to be heard and reflected on by their mum.