This Father’s Day the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) will launch Child Protection Week (6th –12th Sept) now in its 25th year.
More than 40,000 children in Australia were recorded as being abused or neglected last year, prompting organisations such as NAPCAN to continue their work in raising awareness for the issue.
According to NAPCAN Board President Teresa Scott, statistics released from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare revealed 143,000 children in Australia received intervention from child protection services last year.
It was also revealed 50,000 children in Australia are currently living in and out of home care because their own homes are not safe.
Ms Scott said the data shows Australians need to be made more aware of child abuse and neglect.
“When we first started White Balloon Day, no one would even utter ‘child sexual assault’, it was a taboo subject, no one talked about it,”
“[Child Protection Week] is about awareness raising, education and giving people information so they know how to respond and how to recognise the signs of abuse in children,” she said.
Last week a vigil was held for Mildura toddler Nikki Francis-Coslovich whose mother’s boyfriend was charged with murder.
Ms Scott said communities need to think about strategies to prevent child abuse before children are hurt or neglected.
As a strategy this year NAPCAN is encouraging communities to “play your part” by recognising the roles individuals play in children’s lives.
“All of us come in contact with children in some shape or manner throughout our daily life, be it as an aunty, or a grandparent or a neighbour,” Ms Scott said.
“It can be the little ways that we can help look out for children… like being aware if there’s a new baby in the family and knowing that can be a really stressful time… so offering to do something as simple as making some meals.”
The annual event raises awareness of the 59,000 children who are sexually harmed each year.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston AM said the day is about encouraging the community to break the silence on child sexual assault.
“When we first started White Balloon Day, no one would even utter ‘child sexual assault’, it was a taboo subject, no one talked about it,” she said.
“… The community conversation is a lot greater now but we still need to encourage survivors and victims of child sexual assault to speak out.
“Tell somebody what’s happening and help protect this younger generation of children.”
Communities, Women and Youth Minister Shannon Fentiman said the Palaszczuk Government is committed to building a new child and family support system in Queensland.
“Our government has made an overall $49 million commitment over the next five years to address domestic and family violence,” she said.
Over the coming months the Queensland Government will be reviewing the Child Protection Act 1999 and have also invested $6.6 million into a new Triple P: Positive Parenting Program.