Robots to help family violence victims

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KINGSTON Council have approved a $182,000 grant for a project that would see young children who have lived through family violence work with robots during therapy sessions.

The “Little Sparks to Bright Minds” therapy program aims to help kindergarten and early primary aged children through the recovery process after family violence experiences.

The program, supported by the Emerge Women and Children’s Support Network, will see robots called “Matilda” working with therapists and teachers to keep children engaged during one on one therapy sessions. The robots were developed by Professor Rhavij Khosla from La Trobe University.

Emerge executive officer Paula Westhead said “a successful pilot project has been run with toddlers and would now be expanded to meet the needs of children.”

“The program will be facilitated by therapists and child case workers who are experienced in addressing psychological problems that many traumatised children face. For instance, some children may speak slowly or not all, while some cannot comprehend what is being said, read or conveyed. These children are often in need of extra support and may lack initiative and confidence,” she said.

Kingston mayor Cr Georgina Oxley said “this new partnership between Emerge and Kingston Council has the potential to break new ground in Victoria, supporting children to recover from the trauma experienced due to family violence.”

“It links with Kingston’s family violence strategy, will make a positive difference in our community, and we hope to see the pilot program rolled out to other areas across Melbourne,” she said.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 13 December 2018

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