Moranbah school chaplain Desley Kerr knows all too well the impact that domestic violence is having on children.
“A single-parent family had been hiding here for years — the child never having been to a park or shop or played with friends because of threats to their lives,” she shared.
“I know of people who have spent the night hiding outside in bushes because they didn’t feel safe to go into their own home. Our children should never be too scared to be home!”
Chappy Desley, who is chaplain at Moranbah and Moranbah East state schools and is also involved in a local community organisation that helps domestic violence victims, knows children are often caught in the middle.
Through this, she was inspired to help teach her students that domestic violence is not okay, and they have the power to do something about it.
“My two schools’ administrations also saw a need for such a program and were very supportive and happy to have another voice and a different method of presenting the same message,” Chappy Desley said.
A $1000 grant, lots of paint, second-hand supplies, and creative inspiration helped Desley share the powerful message about the importance and power of speaking up.
Working with 49 classes across three schools in Moranbah, Chappy Desley said working through art made the message more accessible.
“With the younger children we worked out who the adults were that they trusted enough to talk to and go to for help. With the older classes, we discussed that true friends don’t keep ‘secrets’ but tell a trusted adult and try to get them help.”
To help reinforce the lessons, Chappy Desley helped the students create themed works of art to be displayed around town.
“Each Year 6 student at one school helped to design and build a mosaic top on a donated coffee table, and each Year 1 at another school painted three little flower shapes, with glitter of course — you can’t leave out the glitter!” she laughed.
Chappy Desley assembled all the major pieces over the Easter holidays, and the 15 artworks, varying from banners and sculptures to canvases and mosaics, were a major display during the local Home Show.
“The children did an amazing job and they really understood the message and meaning,” she said.
“During this exercise in 2017 I know of one child who did come forward to their teacher resulting in a change in custody arrangements, and another small group of students who spoke to staff about their concerns for another child.
“Did we help to improve their lives? I hope so, but I hope we planted seeds that will flourish to make a safer community for all our families.”
Thank you for the role you play in helping to make our communities safer.
Please continue to support chaplains like Debbie. Visit suqld.org.au/donate.