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June 14, 2024

Animal protection fund’s $750,000 for Lucy’s Project

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Anna Ludvik and Willis. Photo Tree Faerie.

Earlier this month the NSW Government committed millions to a far-reaching animal protection fund and local group Lucy’s Project was one of the fund’s recipients.

The funds came about following four years of relentless campaigning by the Animal Justice Party – Premier Dominic Perrottet said the major funding boost will provide greater outcomes for animal rehoming organisations and crack down on animal abusers who violate the Governments strict animal cruelty laws.

‘The past few years have shown just how important companion animals are to the wellbeing of families and households across the State,’ said Mr Perrottet.

Anna Ludvik and Betty White. Photo Tree Faerie.

Funding is well overdue

The Hon. Emma Hurst MLC from the Animal Justice Party says this urgent funding is well overdue, and after extensive lobbying and consultation with the Government, is relieved that they are finally taking action on animal cruelty.

One of the groups to benefit from the fund is the locally based Lucy’s Project a harm prevention charity focussed on addressing domestic and family violence (DFV) in Australia by supporting and creating collaborative practices between human and animal services.

Lucy’s Project will be the recipient of $750,000 from that fund.

Lucy’s Project is a harm prevention charity that is focused on addressing domestic and family violence (DFV) in Australia. They seek to facilitate women’s and children’s safety by reducing barriers to support and creating collaborative practices between human and animal services.

The project’s work encompasses what they call the three A’s: advocacy – by amplifying the voices of people experiencing DFV where an animal is involved in the nexus of abuse; awareness – by improving knowledge of animal abuse as a risk factor for human safety within the DFV sector, animal service sector, government, and among the general public to increase focus and provisions for establishing pathways to safety for victim-survivors with animals, and; with action – maintaining a network of support through working directly with organisations to upskill, build capacity, and providing resources to remove systemic roadblocks to safety. This includes concurrent crises safety planning – where DFV occurs during a natural disaster/pandemic/other social disruption and an animal is present.

Emma Hurst says there is a well-documented, intrinsic link between animal abuse and domestic violence. ‘Research suggests that up to 70 per cent of domestic violence survivors delay leaving violence because they can’t leave with their companion animals. There are very few services that can help and specialise in this complex area.

‘Lucy’s Project has done phenomenal work, helping victim survivors and their animals to leave violence and to help DV services to understand the complexities in this space. This vital funding will ensure this service continues for several years.’

Lucy’s Project turn ten

Lucy’s Project founder Anna Ludvik is preparing to celebrate 10 years of the project.

Ludvik, who received the Lismore Citizen of the Year award in 2017 for her work with Lucy’s Project, says the money can’t come soon enough. ‘Lucy’s Project was in a state where we really needed ongoing operational funds to keep to be able to keep our doors open. I spoke with the Hon Emma Hurst to explain their situation to her. She arranged meetings with some of the ministers and just kept raising the issue.

‘She eventually she brought this up with the Premier who said “why aren’t we funding this already?” That was great!’

Ludvik said she put in a pitch asking for $750,000. ‘I said that I need that for three years to keep us going. Because what we needed was enough funds to not just ensure that we’re okay for the next three months, and then at the end of the three months be in a desperate state – we wanted three years of funding so that we’d have enough time to secure our ongoing funds and have the time and the staff and the resources to be able to ensure our future, and they came through with it with exactly what we asked for. 

Incredibly grateful to New South Wales Government

‘We’re incredibly grateful to New South Wales Government for that.’

Ludvik says the funding is a huge validation of all of the work that has been done up until now. ‘It feels like an understanding of how important this work is to the community – that all the work is worth it. It’s a total game-changer for us to have that support and to know how much support there is behind us because sometimes you can feel like you’re working in the dark. Sometimes you can feel like you’re doing all this and it’s not appreciated.

‘It was for me was really inspiring on a personal level as well.’

Ludvik says that the funds make the future of the project clearer. ‘We’re going to be a stronger and more reliable organization as a result of this. That gives me tremendous confidence to go forward with projects, and to commit to more and to be able to do more.

An historic organisation

Alison Waters and Anna Ludvik – Waters has had firsthand experience with Lucy’s Project through her work at the Northern Rivers Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘Lucy’s Project is an historic organisation. There’s never been one like it in Australia and we are one of the only ones of our kind in the world. Other countries look to us.’

Ludvik says the funds will be used on several different projects – they talk to organisations find out what their problems are, and then create resources for that organisation. ‘So those resources can often be a fact sheet – for a response to having animals facing domestic and family violence through, for example, the COVID crisis, or what to do when there are concurrent crises. What do you do if there’s, say, a flood, and you’re experiencing domestic and family violence and you have an animal? How do you access resources? How do you plan for that? How do you keep yourself safe when there’s a natural disaster, because we know that natural disasters can often exacerbate incidents of domestic and family violence. 

‘There’ll be other things like running webinars. If we know that the movement is really calling for more information in a specific topic, we’ll organise a webinar, bring in experts and have those experts present information and make that accessible as an open source for the community to learn more about that particular issue.’

Firsthand experience with Lucy’s Project

Animals welfare advocate and lead candidate for the Animal Justice Party in the Upper House, Alison Waters was the manager of the Northern Rivers Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service until recently she began her campaign for a seat in Parliament.

Waters says she has had firsthand experience with Lucy’s Project. ‘Anna came in and provided training for all of my DV team, around animal abuse and domestic violence. Part of what we do in a risk assessment, one of the questions we ask is, “has your partner harmed or threatened to harm your animal?”, we use that as an indicator of the risk against that woman. When we started asking that question, people would start disclosing information that they may not have ordinarily provided if we hadn’t done that question. So it was important for the team to be trained up to understand the link between animal abuse and DV.’

Waters says that Ludvik also did some work around looking at what services were available. ‘So as well as capacity building in training, she was looking at what is out there already that she can connect in with us – what are the gaps? What do we need? And how can we build networks? And how can we ask the right questions?

‘I know over the years, a lot of women I’ve spoken to have said, when they first speak to a domestic violence worker, they might not mention that they even have an animal because they know that it’s going to be a problem. They’ve heard the refuges don’t take animals and so then by the time they’ve mentioned that the workers saying, “Oh, well, this isn’t gonna work for you. Sorry, you’re gonna have to leave your animal behind”. Through Lucy’s Project there is help around that.’

Wherever an animal is abused, there is an at-risk person

Ludvik says that one of the things that really drives the project is understanding that wherever an animal is abused, there is an at-risk person. ‘Nobody is safe in a house where an animal is being abused. Animal abuse can be an indicator of at-risk people, particularly for children. It’s something that we need to take incredibly seriously – if we’re serious about ending domestic and family violence and child abuse in this country.

‘We also know that those that commit animal abuse, statistically, are the most dangerous of perpetrators, those most likely to go on to commit an act of homicide.

‘This is a statistic that haunts me, this keeps me awake at night. This drives me every day to turn up to work again and to keep facing it no matter how hard it is, because we can protect animals and protect children and protect vulnerable people at the same time. We don’t have to choose between the two of them, we can do we can help them both.

‘But as long as we ignore animal abuse, we’re ignoring the most some of the most vulnerable people in our community. And I think if people understood this and really saw this, I think that we’d be able to create some really important change’.

Anna Ludvik and rescue pooch Betty White. Photo Tree Faerie.


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3 COMMENTS

  1. The Animals Justice Party should rightly be renamed as the Pets Party. Dog and cat owners have animals killed every week to feed to their pets – millions of chickens ‘past their peak egg laying’, old and non financial racing horses, rabbits, kangaroos etc etc are slaughtered in their millions each year by pet owners to give their dead bodies to their pets to eat. The Animal Justice Party has also pushed Legislation to force every house owner to allow renters with dogs and cats, despite the house owner wanting to keep their block accessible for native animals and birds, which will contribute to the millions of wildlife killed by these pets, and the loss of more urban wildlife habitat. “Animal abuse” – they only mean pet animal abuse and ignore the pet owners slaughter of animals to feed their pets, and the slaughter of wildlife by their pets. Dogs and cats are wonderful companions but these guys ignore the facts and live in a bubble of just looking after pets

  2. The Animals Justice Party should rightly be renamed as the Pets Party. Liberated Cats are being kill in the wild en mass and the perpetrators brag about it in the Echo. Cats have been here for centuries and have done their best to fill the gap in the eco-system that was left by the extinction of the native predators 50,000 years ago. Without the evolutionary pressure from predators, native species have become weak, unable to adapt, and thus prone to extinction by any environmental change.

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