How we, as a community, can keep children safe and supported
by Lo-Shu Wen, Client Safeguarding Specialist, CatholicCare Sydney
National Child Protection Week is held each year to raise awareness about child abuse prevention and to let us know how we can play our part to keep the children in our community safe. The 2022 National Child Protection Week (4 - 10 September) theme is “every child, in every community, needs a fair go” with a focus on children growing up safe and supported.
At CatholicCare, children and young people are a big part of what we do. As an agency, over half of the people we support are children or young people. This work takes place across our diverse portfolio of programs and keeping children and young people safe and supported is a top priority for us.
We are committed to ensuring children and young people feel safe when they, or their families, access our services. In line with the National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), the organiser for Child Protection Week, we actively engage in ‘primary prevention’ measures including:
- Building strong communities
By providing a range of holistic services, we are helping to strengthen communities ensuring children have the support they need to thrive.
- Valuing children and advocating for their rights
Taking a child-focussed approach, actively listening and responding to what children tell us in our services.
- Expanding and improving coordination of our services
Working collaboratively between our programs and with other services, including supporting our staff to respond quickly and effectively to child protection concerns.
- Increasing family support
Through our provision of a wide range of family support services including Parent line NSW, Family Dispute Resolution and Counselling, we are strengthening families to raise their children in supportive and loving homes.
- Educating families about parenting and child development
Our parenting and child development courses are available in person and online to all parents and our Parenting HUB provides additional resources.
- Ensuring our organisation is child safe and child friendly
We are committed to implementing the Child Safe Standards, making our organisation safer for children and young people.
The need for prevention is highlighted by the high human and financial cost of child abuse and neglect in Australia. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Child protection Australia 2019–20 report 1 in 32 children received child protection services in 2019-20, with 67% being repeat clients
We believe that every child, in every community, needs a fair go. We all have a part to play, treating all children fairly, and ensuring every family and community has what kids need to thrive and be healthy.
3 ways you can play your part during National Child Protection Week (and every day)
- Attend a free Child Protection Week webinars
Daily webinars are being held (5-9 September) covering a range of topics. To register for any of these webinars, visit napcan.org.au/final-official-program-webinars-events-2022.
- Talk to children about safety
- Support children to identify trusted adults (both within the family and outside) they can talk to, if they are worried, upset, or don’t feel safe. Make sure these adults know they are on your child’s list.
Remind children that they can talk to you or a trusted adult about anything, no matter how big or small their worry might be.
- Talk to children about how they know when they feel safe or unsafe. Help them to listen to their early warning signs (how their body feels), and to trust their feelings and instincts.
- Use everyday activities as opportunities for conversations (e.g. preparing meals and snacks, going for walks, playing, shopping). If children are used to having lots of communication, it can make it easier to talk when big or tricky issues come up.
- Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. This helps children to develop a ‘feelings vocabulary’.
- For more tips on how you can play your part, that is specific to your profession or role in your community, visit www.napcan.org.au/tips-for-playing-your-part/
- Join the discussion online
Follow NAPCAN Play Your Part on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. You can also download resources at napcan.org.au and use #ncpw #ncpw22 #playyourpart when sharing.
Find out more about the National Child Protection Week campaign at napcan.org.au, including community resources, information and activities for families.
About the author
Lo-Shu Wen is the Client Safeguarding Specialist at CatholicCare Sydney.
Lo-Shu is a trained social worker with experience in child protection, aged care service provision, and working with refugee and migrant communities. He has had the privilege of working as a clinician and in policy positions in both government and non-government sectors. Together with the staff at CatholicCare, Lo-Shu works to ensure that in the work that we do, we safeguard the welfare and human rights of all of our clients.