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Queensland Child Protection Week 2016 celebrates 30 years

by PeakCare Qld on 9th September 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> September -> Queensland Child Protection Week 2016 celebrates 30 years

Officially launched at Parliament House during the Awards Ceremony, Queensland’s 30th Child Protection Week began its anniversary year on Sunday September 4th and runs until 10th September 2016. The Awards received significant media and community attention due to the high calibre of recipients. Queensland Child Protection Week 2016 has boasted many further achievements thus far.

Queensland Child Protection Week began unofficially 32 years ago whilst a young television reporter was building her career covering police and court matters in Brisbane. That same year, a 4 year old child fell prey to a family ‘friend’ who sexually abused her. Neither had any idea how their stories would entwine.

Shattered and outraged by what had happened to their little girl, the child’s parents reached out to police, the news reporter and other concerned members of the community to form a PACT – to protect and support vulnerable children and never stay silent about abuse against children either in society or by the systems meant to protect them. Through that simple but powerful declaration, the organisation Protect All Children Today (PACT) was born.Two years later, the same group of individuals dedicated to child protection launched Queensland Child Protection Week (QCPW). This was a chance to educate all Queenslanders about child abuse and neglect with the hope to ensure that professionals, family and community members and all associated with children learned what children needed to be safe and experience wellbeing.

The court reporter is now Channel Seven’s newsreader Kay McGrath. Kay has spent the last 30 years as the Ambassador for Child Protection Week in Queensland and is a staunch advocate for child protection:“When I was approached to head up PACT, I didn’t hesitate. How could I? Even before having my own two beautiful sons, I could see the need to protect vulnerable children with no voice of their own.Becoming a parent has deepened my understanding and commitment. It’s been a privilege to be involved in this work.”

30 years on Queensland Child Protection Week is celebrating this 30th anniversary milestone by continuously sharing key child protection messages with the same intent. The beginning of QCPW is a poignant reminder of why we have this week. It is most significantly a reminder that one person speaking up and joining with a few can make a lasting and significant difference when they use their personal and professional resources for change.Child protection is everybody’s responsibility and we all have a role to play. This sentiment is clear from Queensland Child Protection Week’s beginnings.

The Queensland Child Protection Week Committee (QCPWC) is made up of representatives of organisations from the government and non-government sectors within Queensland. It is auspiced by Act for Kids and funded by the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and sponsored by KFC, Channel 7, the Courier Mail and the Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC). QCPW focuses attention on child protection being everyone’s business and ensuring that all across Queensland communities take responsibility for children and young people being safe and experiencing well-being.

The committee works throughout the year to share key messages through social media and posters outlining pertinent issues that impact children and young people such as: domestic and family violence, the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families in the child protection system, the importance of listening to and hearing children and young people and the need to respond to the changing needs of young people as they grow from children to young adults. These messages throughout each year culminate in the messages shared extensively during Child Protection Week. These include specific CPW posters, social media and a Community Services Announcements produced and aired by Channel 7. Further promotions occur through organisational eNews and websites. The mainstream media through radio, television and print promote CPW extensively across Queensland. Millions of Queenslanders hear these messages each year.

Whilst QCPW culminates in a week of frenetic activity that includes Awards recipients being acknowledged for outstanding practice, 100+ events around the state, arts events and multiple media articles noting the importance of child protection in our state, the messages outlining the importance of child protection and family support occur throughout the whole year. These opportunities are created to ensure that QCPW isn’t just a week, it is an annual campaign that builds momentum throughout the year until the first week in September when all these efforts explode into the public stratosphere.

QCPW supports the CREATE Foundation event that assists children and young people in care to celebrate CPW with an adult with whom they feel connected. Each year children and young people nominate a mentor who has made a difference in their life. This year the CREATE Foundation planned and hosted a fabulous Vintage High Tea Party. Children and young people invited along their key mentors comprised of foster or kinship carers, departmental or non-government organisation staff, sporting coaches and friends or family members. The theme of the day was ‘thank you’. Those who’d taken that extra step to build connection and relationships with children and young people were acknowledged for the important role they play in children’s and young people’s lives.

“This is another positive opportunity to ensure recognition for children and young people and those who walk alongside them” said Ms Kobierski, QCPW Chair.

Short on the heels of the CREATE function Minister Shannon Fentiman announced a $60 million hands-on family support package of intensive support for families in Queensland to further add to the beginning of Child Protection Week celebrations. “Our Government is committed to keeping children safe and what better time to announce additional support than on the eve of Child Protection Week,” Ms Fentiman said. “This funding will be used to deliver intensive support to the most vulnerable families across Queensland to help them better care for their children safely at home. This support includes case management to respond to complex family circumstances and practical assistance to deal with issues impacting the family’s ability to care for children. It will also create 128 new frontline jobs.

“Our package will also include new funding for Bravehearts so they can provide counselling and other support services to young people who are victims of sexual abuse as well as their families.”

The child protection package announced included:

  • $60 million over four years for intensive grassroots family and child support at high-need locations across Queensland including the creation of 128 frontline jobs;
  • $2 million over four years to fund a state-wide campaign urging Queenslanders to call out child abuse, because “child safety is everyone’s responsibility”;
  • $500,000 new funding over four years for Bravehearts to support families who have experienced sexual abuse.

Minister Fentiman acknowledged that combatting child abuse can’t be done by government alone. Hence why “we are also pleased to be announcing a $2 million community campaign to be launched in partnership with the National Association of the Prevention of Child abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) to help remind us all that children are amongst our most valuable and most vulnerable Queenslanders”.

NAPCAN is a major part of both child abuse prevention and child protection week. This year they hosted their annual breakfast with over 130 participants who shared in the good news as they celebrated their renewed capacity to educate Queensland children, young people, families and communities.

Their President Teresa Scott spoke of the importance of listening to and engaging with children and young people and ensuring they are at the forefront of all we do, including policy, research, programs and service delivery. Teresa also spoke of NAPCAN’s partnership with the Queensland government and their pride in this partnership to assist those who speak out.

Minister Shannon Fentiman reflected on her own childhood and stated her vision that every child in Queensland has a happy and positive childhood. She spoke of her government’s many initiatives to improve the lives of children, young people and families in Queensland. She specifically focused on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, young people and families and initiatives including plans in cabinet aimed at ensuring that community led and controlled processes combat the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families in the child protection system.

Guest speaker Cheryl Vardon, QFCC Principal Commissioner reminded all present that we are all together in the child protection system, we all have responsibility and we all need to work closely and share information to ensure that tragedies cease to exist. She asked all present to think of children they know or have heard of through media. She asked that we remember their names and we remember their stories so that such tragic cases of children dying remind us to pay attention, to act and when tragedy occurs on rare occasions, to take the learnings and always remember where these learnings came from. “No child should die through abuse. No child should die in vain. We all have a responsibility to learn from tragedies” she said.

The Commissioner further applauded those who speak out even when no one wants to listen. She stated that despite our collective best efforts she is still on occasions horrified to hear what still happens to children at times. Hence why we need warriors and leaders in child protection to make us question our work, our system, what we do and what we need to do differently. Cheryl Vardon applauded those who state issues as they are with unambiguous language. She named: Dorothy Scott, Minister Shannon Fentiman, Colin Barnett and Hetty Johnston amongst others.

The winners of the 2016 NAPCAN Queensland Awards were then announced:

Play Your Part Award recipients Queensland

  • Parentline, yourtown – A confidential telephone and online service that provides professional counselling, education and support for parents and carers of children and young people.

  • Deadly Dukes, PCYC Ipswich – A variation of the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Landmark Queensland Child Protection Week events include the Remembrance Day Ceremony. This is without question the most applauded event on the annual Child Protection Week calendar. With ceremonies held throughout Queensland, we are all reminded that these ceremonies give us all an opportunity to hear from Forgotten Australians and acknowledge their journey from hurt to healing. The list of those who comprise the Forgotten Australians is extensive and includes: stolen generations, former child migrants, those who experienced forced adoption and those who experienced abuse in institutions.

The Remembrance Day 2016 ceremony at GOMA was undoubtedly the most moving of the official CPW events in Brisbane. With Channel 7’s Kay McGrath as Master of Ceremonies and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk as Guest Speaker amongst Forgotten Australians and a plethora of dignitaries, all those in attendance were well aware of the decades of abuse, the decades spent in fighting for recognition and the further time spent in seeking justice.

Channel 7’s Kay McGrath welcomed attendees, particularly the Forgotten Australians. She noted that the purpose of remembering is to ensure that the abuse of children in care does not happen today. She stated that those involved in telling their stories to the Forde Inquiry were committed to ensuring such atrocities never happen again to children and young people. She also celebrated that whilst the healing is on-going and so many doors were closed in the past so many are listening now.

Aunty Carol in her welcome to country address, said sorry to all the children who were taken from their homes and homeland and harmed. On behalf of her people she apologised for their pain and suffering.

Premier Annastacia Palazczuk acknowledged the long journey Forgotten Australians have travelled to be heard. She affirmed her government's commitment to justice and services for every Queenslander together with their commitment to fighting for a national redress scheme. She also announced that her government would end 17 year olds being incarcerated in adult prisons in Queensland. She also emphatically stated her government’s commitment to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and their respect for children and young people.

Child Safety Minister Shannon Fentiman applauded the courage, strength and bravery of Forgotten Australians in their continued search for justice. Micah Projects CEO Karyn Walsh spoke of the tenacity and patience of Forgotten Australians through the decades of advocacy they've undertaken whilst continuing to tell their stories. She acknowledged that many began seeking change for children and young people long before the Forde Inquiry.

In the candle lighting ceremony to acknowledge forgotten Australians the following groups were recognised: the stolen generation, those in the out of home care system, those who experienced institutional abuse, those affected by forced adoptions and young people. The acknowledgement of the ongoing need for advocacy and support was clearly stated.

All in attendance stated the following:

We acknowledge and affirm the courage of all people who have experienced childhood abuse in institutional settings. We affirm their determination in the face of denial and powerful institutions breaking the silence and being a voice for reform and justice.

We recognise that while change has been slow, change has occurred and we affirm the place in history of Queensland that those who have experienced abuse have claimed in daring to be voices for that change.

Several other ceremonies for Forgotten Australians were held throughout the state. “These ceremonies remind us of past abuse and injustice. This is one reason we need to be so mindful of child protection in every place across Queensland where children and young people are” stated Child Protection Week Manager, Caitlin King.

Over one hundred events have been held throughout Queensland in 2016 to further promote child protection to communities across the state. QCPWC Chairperson, Elisabeth Kobierski is aware of the powerful impact the many events across Queensland have in educating communities: “The events held during Queensland Child Protection Week give the community a chance to get involved and lend their support to the important issues that we promote. It is so important that all Queenslanders listen to children and young people and play their part in protecting them. These events all share this vital message amongst others.”

For more information go to: http://childprotectionweek.org.au/

Click here to read last week’s CPW Awards eNews

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