Lucy’s Project is a volunteer organisation, based in Lismore New South Wales Australia, with chapters in most states of Australia. Its membership is comprised of many peak DFV organisations, animal rescue organisations, charities, vets, lawyers, universities, individuals, government and non-government agencies and advocacy groups with a common vision of protecting the whole family.
We receive no government funding and rely solely on donations from the public and small grants.
Lucy’s Project is not afraid to dream big and our National Strategy is designed to one day ensure there is a service for animals affected by domestic and family violence in every area of the country.
Lucy’s Project works with a wide range of services, region by region, to achieve this goal and build services. If you represent an organisation or council looking to improve services in your region, please contact Lucy’s Project for more information.
Lucy’s Project has working groups of passionate people in every state and territory. These working groups and Special Interest Groups spearhead most of Lucy’s Project’s on the ground. New members and groups are always welcome, so if you want to become involved, please send an email to email@example.com for more information.
PO Box 1023
Lismore NSW 2480
Lucy’s Project Inc. ABN 24 166471969
Please consider supporting our important work by making a donation to Lucy’s Project, Newcastle Permanent BSB 650 300 ACC 513837906.
Domestic Violence and the human/ animal connection
Australia has one of the highest rates of animal ownership in the world. Sadly, we also have one of the highest rates of family/domestic violence, too. This means that many animals, who are a part of the family, also become victims when a family is subjected to family/domestic violence. For many people, leaving an animal behind to an uncertain fate is inconceivable. Many victim/survivors report that they delayed leaving a violent home, or returned to a violent home, because there was nowhere safe to care for the animal. As N Taylor and H Fraser explain, for many people who have experienced domestic and family violence, the loving relationship they share with an animal can provide victim/survivors with” the will to live, eat, sleep and keep caring for others, and in the process, maintain the will to rebuild their lives.”* An animal is often the only comfort, defender or friend a victim/survivor has.
For many victim/survivors, talking about the abuse and disclosing what’s going on can be hard. Often disclosing the abuse to the pets. vets suspecting abuse to an animal, or when children report family pets being killed or harmed is the only insight, we may have that there are people at risk of personal harm. (The Link Coalition) For this reason, Lucy’s Project works closely with vets to help support both the animals and people who may be in need of protection and for whom, the vet may be the only person able to link victim/survivors with domestic violence support services.
Lucy’s Project is deeply concerned that animal cruelty can be a powerful indicator of an at-risk family. This is an under researched area of domestic violence and we strongly advocate for and support further studies into the link between domestic violence and animal cruelty in a quest to save human and animal lives.
When we fail to address animal cruelty, we are failing to address human need too.
* N.Taylor and H.Fraser, Companion Animals and Domestic Violence, Rescuing You, Rescuing Me, Palgrave, 2019, 4.
When animals are victims, humans are victims
When an animal is being abused in the home, there are often humans at risk in the home. Witnessing animal abuse is distressing, and some perpetrators will harm an animal as a way of exerting control, punishment or threats towards a human victim/survivor. When a companion animal has been abused in a home, there’s a powerful red flag that all is not safe at home. No happy home involves animal abuse.
What if police officers are more at risk during a domestic violence call out if there is a history of animal cruelty and they have no knowledge of it? What if a history of violence toward animals is an indicator of increased chance of a perpetrator committing murder of a human victim? These questions are under researched, but US studies suggest that in fact this could well be the case and further research here in Australia is vital.
A trip to the vet, where the vet notices that the animal has a non-accidental injury, might be the only time the human victim/survivor has a chance to speak with someone who suspects abuse in the home and are able to provide support and help. We are proud to work with our veterinary partners and respect that taking animal cruelty seriously can save human lives.
All species are susceptible to domestic and family violence. Protect all species from violence because it’s never ok.
Protecting animals to protect children
From birth, children are presented with animals or representations of animals as a form of soothing comfort, companionship or as a relatable friendly face. Teddy bears, cartoon animals, the Easter Bunny to name but a few, are central to the imagination and creative world of a child. Animals play an important role in the lives of children.
For many children experiencing domestic and family violence, the family pet can be a deep comfort and support. Animals can be a source of security for a child in a turbulent home. (Taylor and Fraser 2019)
Many children who witness an animal subjected to family/domestic violence are at risk of becoming perpetrators of abuse themselves with some studies suggesting they are at higher risk of committing future criminality. (Becker and French 2004)
For children, escaping crisis with the family pet can ensure continuity in their source of comfort, security and enjoyment of life, at a time of great uncertainty, fear and change.
To protect children from domestic violence, we must also protect the animals so central to their sense of wellbeing.
Lucy’s Project raises awareness of the link between family/domestic violence and animal abuse. We do this both amongst the general public and within the government and non-government organisations tackling the domestic and family violence crisis in Australia.
Lucy’s Project recognises the importance of companion animals (“pets”) to Australian families and the prevalence of domestic violence where animals are also within the home. We help people make ’the link’. We believe that when an animal is at risk of harm within a family, there is also a human life at risk. Until we address the need to protect animals from harm, we are failing to address the whole family.
We support studies to increase knowledge and awareness of the extent of the animal abuse in domestic and family violence and to increase education of the effect of that violence on human communities.
We raise awareness of the resources, tools and support available to domestic violence organisations in Australia by forming a peak organisation and a network of services around the country.
We recognise the burden of domestic violence on the animal welfare/right sector as they support animals needing refuge. We seek to raise awareness of the support needed and available to them through the network.
Lucy’s Project advocates for the animal victims of family/domestic violence in order to also protect the human victims of family and domestic violence. We do this in a number of ways.
We form a network of services across Australia including domestic and family violence peak bodies, government and non-government agencies, police, animal rescue services, housing, homelessness and mental health services, veterinarians, child support agencies, lawyers and universities.
We speak up for the non-human victims of family/domestic violence as well as the people who cannot be separated from their animals in a crisis. We seek ways to help build further support services for them.
We offer direct consulting services to domestic violence organisations (and others) who are seeking to improve the outcomes for people with animals and be innovators in the field.
We work with organisations who need assistance understanding animal issues or requiring referrals to further support.
We try to ‘bridge the gap’ using creative thinking when no services to a family are available for animal support.
We reach out to the DFV networks to include animals in the knowledge nexus and grow awareness.
We partner with others to develop the body of research and knowledge
We hold conferences on a bi-annual basis and create webinars, training programs, factsheets and provide up to date information.
We hold state based working group meetings on a regular basis, to partner on projects, share information and build awareness.
Lucy’s Project acknowledges that our work takes place on Aboriginal land. Always has, always will be Aboriginal Land, and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.
Lucy’s Project recognises the animals who have passed away or live with the scars and trauma of domestic and family violence.
Lucy’s Project recognises the collective experience of the organisations we work with. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the resilience and strength of the human survivors of domestic and family violence.
Founder of Lucy’s Project, Anna Ludvik, was commended in NSW Parliament by the Hon. Mark Pearson MLC in 2016, by the Hon. Kevin Hogan MP in 2017.
2018 Australia Day Awards – Citizen of the Year, Anna Ludvik (founder) Lismore City Council.
2018 Northern Star, 50 Most Influential People of the Northern Rivers, Anna Ludvik, Lucy’s Project.
2019 Rotary NSW Inspirational Woman of the Year, finalist.
2019 Northern Star, 30 Most Influential Women, Anna Ludvik, Lucy’s Project founder.
2019 NRMA “Help is who we are” recognition of service.
Lucy’s Project was formed in 2013 following the stillbirth of the founder, Anna Ludvik’s daughter, Lucy. Anna wanted to commemorate her daughter in some way.
For a long time, Anna had dreamed of shining a light on the link between domestic/ family violence and animal abuse and so she named her initiative Lucy’s Project in honour of her daughter. “We cannot fully address the human crisis of family and domestic violence in Australia until we have addressed the need to protect the animal victims” says Anna. “When an animal is in danger in a family, you can be sure a human life is also at risk.”
At its core, Lucy’s Project aims to reduce the human toll on animals as a result of family violence and in Lucy’s innocent name, to protect women, children, animals and other victims from harm.
Lucy’s Project could not do the work we do without the help of our incredible supporters and partners. Working collaboratively is core to the work we do. The organisations named below have given generously and worked extensively with Lucy’s Project and we are proud of our ongoing association.
This website is still under construction and we hope to upload the logo and information for all our supporters soon.
If you would like to support or partner with Lucy’s Project and become an essential part of the organisation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
EDVOS – Eastern Domestic Violence Outreach Service is based in East Melbourne, Australia and has been proudly supporting Lucy’s Project for many years. Offering services for women, men, children and animals affected by domestic violence
Cherished Pets is a social enterprise that offers veterinary assistance for the animals of vulnerable people in Geelong, Victoria. Cherished Pets have been proud partners of Lucy’s Project for many years.
The University of Melbourne, School of Social Sciences and Melbourne Veterinary School have been active supporters and partners of Lucy’s Project for many years and hosted our 2018 conference.
Safe Pets Safe Families are a crisis foster care network for animals- and more- in South Australia and looking to go national.
Byron Dog Rescue (Registered as Companion Animal Welfare Inc) are proud supporters and partners of Lucy’s Project
Thank you to thekindcoffeeco.com for your ongoing support of Lucy’s Project.
Thank you to all our regular donors, individual members and supporters.
Lucy’s Project is an Australian not for profit incorporated association, registered in the state of NSW. We are governed by an executive committee comprising a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and a Public Officer. Our membership records are held in NSW. We hold an annual general meeting where our financial records and annual report are available to all members. We are in process of changing our structure to reflect the national work we do and will update this section shortly. For more information, please email the public officer, Anna Ludvik, email@example.com
Lucy’s Project recognises that domestic and family violence can affect all gender identities and all species. We recognise that while victim/survivors may identify as any gender, statistics reflect that the majority identify as female while the majority of abusers identify as male.
Lucy’s Project recognises the importance of the family animal and their status as family members, pets, companions, and assistance and guide animals. We recognise that in times of crisis, the family animal can be a source of comfort, support, security and strength for survivors. We support initiatives and programs that assist in keeping human and animal together in crisis and recovery.
Lucy’s Project recognises the special trauma that can be inflicted upon children who witness the abuse of animals.
Lucy’s Project acknowledges that we operate our organisation on Aboriginal land as it always has and always will be. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging and acknowledge the vibrancy and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Culture to this day.
Lucy’s Project treats all member organisations and individual supporters equally without favour or prejudice. We are an apolitical organisation with no affiliations to any other organisation.
Lucy’s Project will not accept donations to sway or influence our position or lobbying.
Lucy’s Project has a zero-tolerance policy for bullying, cyber harassment and stalking, verbal abuse or threats of any nature.
Lucy’s Project recognises there are many approaches necessary to solve the crisis of domestic and family violence where animals are concerned, and we are dedicated to working with diverse solutions.
Lucy’s Project is a vegan organisation. This does not compel or request all members to be vegan, however:
- all Lucy’s Project events and meetings must be catered with vegan food only, if funded by Lucy’s Project
- our fundraising must not involve cruelty to animals or the loss of animal life
- we will not sell, endorse or promote products which harm animals
- we adhere to the vegan principles of considering our impact on animals in all decision-making processes
- we seek to minimise harm to animals wherever possible