Help Sam* know
it's not his fault


"I wish I had done more to help my mum. Maybe we would still be together if I had."
- Sam, 10-years-old.

Abuse and neglect are never a child’s fault. Sam has suffered so deeply because the grown-ups in his life were unable to give him the care he needed.

With your amazing support, Sam can get the specialist counselling he needs to heal from trauma and help to understand that none of this is his fault. With one act of kindness, you can give Sam, and other children like him, the brighter future they deserve.

stripSam feels like his whole world has been torn apart

For as long as he can remember, Sam had to look after his mum. But when his desperate call for an ambulance led to them being split up, Sam’s whole world was torn apart.

Like so many children who have experienced abuse and neglect, Sam blames himself.

“I shouldn’t have gone to school that day. If I’d been home, mum would’ve been ok and we’d still be together." Sam, 10-years-old.

You see Sam's mum Frieda* battled with severe mental illness, as a result of domestic violence. The abuse started on her honeymoon, and never stopped. After Sam was born, his dad began spending more and more time out of the house, sometimes for weeks at a time. Until one day he left, and never came back. Crippled with anxiety and terrified that her husband would reappear, Freida would spend days unable to get out of bed because of depression.

So for as long as he could remember, Sam was left to fend for himself. He took to roaming the streets, searching for scraps of food to bring home so he and his mum wouldn't starve.

Sam tried desperately to hide how bad things were at home. He’d figured out that if people realised how sick his mum was, he would lose her. So aside from foraging for food, he would have to do the washing, put out the bins each week and make sure that their little unit was clean and tidy.

On one of the rare days Sam had actually gone to school, he came home to find his mum lying unconscious in her bedroom. And no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t wake her up. With his heart pounding in terror, Sam grabbed his mum’s phone and dialled 000, making a call that led to them being separated – tearing his whole world apart.

Sam's mum had accidentally overdosed on her medication. It was only when she woke up in hospital that she realised she couldn’t take care of Sam properly and made the painful decision to surrender him into foster care.

Sam’s worst fear has come true. He’s ‘lost’ his mum – and he thinks it’s all his fault.

While Sam has been placed in a caring, supportive foster home, and despite everyone’s best efforts, he desperately wants things to go back to the way they were.

“Sam is in a safe foster home, but he feels like he’s been kidnapped,” says Linda, Sam’s Barnardos case worker. “He isn’t coping at all, he’s frantic about his mum and feels crushed with guilt. Whenever his foster parents try to take him to school he just shuts down and cries. If we don’t act now, we could end up with a very angry, self-loathing young teenager on our hands.”

That's why we need your help! Sam urgently needs specialist counselling to help him understand that none of this is his fault. He also needs extra support to help him catch up at school - because he has missed so much staying home to take care of his mum.

Now Sam, struggling with guilt and trauma, has fallen so far behind his peers at school. If he doesn't get the urgent support he needs now, he may never have the chance to reach his potential. Donate now!




strip The harmful impact neglect has on a child's education

Studies have shown a strong link between childhood neglect and poor academic achievement.^

If a child misses just 1 day of school a week, that's 2 months of a whole school year. So when a child like Sam
misses more school than that to take care of his mum, his whole future is at risk!

“Sam is a very bright boy, but he’s fallen far behind his classmates at school.” – Linda, Barnardos Caseworker.

With the school year just starting, now is the time to provide these children with the extra support they need
to get back on track.



strip You can give children like Sam a better future

If we act now, we can stop the neglect Sam has experienced from holding him back for the rest of his life.
Your crucial support can give him the counselling and art therapy he needs to process his grief and guilt, and
intensive one-on-one tutoring to catch up at school.


Nutritious meals

$65 can help children like Sam 
receive nutritious meals at a 
Barnardos Breakfast Club
so they can concentrate better
and do well at school.


Educational support

$105 can help provide children like
Sam with vital educational support
like one-on-one tutoring, so they
can start to flourish at school
– the key to a promising future.


Specialist counselling

$275 can help provide abused and
neglected children with the ongoing
specialist counselling they need
to process their trauma and learn
how to be a child again.


*Name changed and model used to protect privacy.  ^Effects of child abuse and neglect for children and adolescents | Australian Institute of Family Studies (

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