Neerosh Mudaly, a researcher from Monash University, is trying to show how animals can act as therapists and help children to bounce back from trauma.
The group is using guinea pigs as the 'animal therapist'.
"The children see the vulnerability of the smaller animal, how scared it is...They learn how to make them feel safe, they cuddle up to them and they see the parallels with their own experience. It's quite amazing," the Age quoted Mudaly as saying.
According to Mudaly, the brains of traumatized children are gripped by fear and do not develop normally. She points out that this "hyper-vigilance" makes other therapies ineffective for these children.
She said: "New theories are exploring the idea that activity-based, non-verbal programs are more effective than using language."
Mudaly's two-year research will assess empathy, cognition and social interaction, to see how the program changes various trauma symptoms.
PETstock Foundation, a charity established by a chain of pet stores, has given 120,000 dollars for the study.