Mission Australia’s new winter appeal highlights the true and emotional story of a mother and her eight-year-old son fleeing their family home to escape domestic violence to urge the community to donate to help support families experiencing homelessness.

Created with MindJam and Customedia, the campaign tells the story of 33-year-old Heather* and her eight-year-old son Lucas* who had fled their home a number of times to escape Heather’s violent husband, Chris*. Heather had felt sorry for Chris and didn’t want to break up her family. She also had no other safe place to go. So the mother and son returned home - time and time again.

But last winter, Chris was more out of control than usual and Heather was concerned for Lucas’ and her own safety. So she made the brave decision to leave. This time, Heather was prepared because she had been meeting with a domestic violence specialist from Mission Australia. Together they had developed a safety plan should they ever find themselves in danger again.

After leaving the house, Heather met with her Mission Australia case worker, Fiona who arranged for them to stay in a safe house out of town. During their time at the safe house, Fiona helped them apply for, and secure, housing. Mission Australia helped them move in and supplied furniture and other items they needed to get started in their new home.

The appeal depicts distressed images of young Lucas, while his mother is shown frantically packing bags to leave the house. The campaign calls for viewers to “Please donate today” because “Families escaping domestic violence and homelessness need your help”.

Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in Australia with more than 114,000 people seeking help from specialist homelessness services in the past year because they were escaping domestic violence. More than 116,000 Australians are experiencing homelessness on any given night, and for many like Heather and Lucas, it’s the only option when home is no longer a safe place to be.

Mission Australia’s General Manager, Fundraising and Marketing, Elvira Lodewick said the campaign highlights the difficulties and stress experienced by families escaping domestic violence and experiencing homelessness as well as the importance of donating to support families in need this winter.

“No one should be forced to stay in a violent home to keep a roof over their child’s head. Yet, we know that there are thousands of Australian families and young children who have been pushed into homelessness because their home is no longer a safe place to live. With the generous support of donors, Mission Australia can continue to help vulnerable families like Heather’s to find a safe place to call home when crisis hits and a caring professional to help them regain their independence,” said Ms Lodewick.

Launched on 15 April, the campaign includes a direct mail appeal and is set to run on television, outdoor, press, radio and digital advertisements until 30 June 2018.

Mission Australia is one of Australia’s largest not for profit organisations with more than 155 years of practical and proven experience in working with Australians in need. The organisation invests in housing, services and programs to reduce homelessness and strengthen communities, walking beside people and families until they can stand on their own.

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*Names changed to protect the identity of the people we help.

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Purpose - 'Inspired by Jesus Christ, Mission Australia exists to meet human need and to spread the knowledge of the love of God'