Not all heroes wear capes: Why Child Protection is everyone’s business
By the time it takes you to read this, there will be at least 2 reports of child abuse received by Australian Child Protection Authorities.
Every year, a total of 300,000 reports are made with 10,000 children being placed into out-of-home care.
Over 50% of these children not even 5 years old yet.
A child under the age of 12 months old is more likely to suffer abuse or neglect.
1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys fall victim to sexual abuse before they reach their 18th birthday.
When you read statistics like this, I can imagine you would be feeling things like shock, sadness and anger. Possible thoughts running through your mind are likely:
‘What on earth is being done about this?’;
‘How can this continue to happen?’ and the one we all dread,
‘What if this was my child?’
At YMCA Brisbane, we treat matters of Child Protection and our role in Safeguarding Children with the highest importance. YMCA Brisbane has been accredited with the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) through their Safeguarding Children Program since 2014. Prior to this, we held accreditation with ACCYO (Australian Council for Children and Youth Organisations) from 2008 until they merged with the ACF and the Safeguarding Children program commenced. Our defining factors and mission for The Safeguarding Children Program reads as below:
A unique voluntary accreditation scheme for organisations who have a duty of care to children and young people, whilst delivering a service or activity to them and/or their families. It systematically builds the capacity of organisations to keep children and young people safe from abuse and exploitation by staff, volunteers or other relevant related individuals’.
Our accreditation requires renewal every 3 years and is contingent upon our success in passing stringent auditing of our Policy, Procedures and Practices which is undertaken prior to the end of the 3 year term.
All employees of the YMCA Brisbane complete ACF induction training dedicated to educating our staff on pressing matters related to the Child Protection cause. These include:
- Child Abuse
- Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse
- Creating Safer Organisations
- Recruitment and Screening Practices
- Child Abuse Reports and Allegations
We also complete refresher training annually to ensure our knowledge of these areas remains concrete, including the task of keeping our reporting obligations and specific YMCA processes remain at the forefront of our minds.
In January 2018 a dedicated Child Protection Advisor was appointed and commenced with YMCA Brisbane. This was organised to ensure that as an organisation we are consistently using best practice, and to support staff in their responsibilities of safety toward keeping children and young people affiliated with the YMCA. At YMCA we believe it is our responsibility to keep children and young people safe and ensure that child safe practices are embedded throughout our policies, procedures and practices, including our staff code of conduct.
For further information about what you as a parent (or your children) can expect from us as well as our commitment to you, please find available on our website our Safeguarding Children Policies.
At this point, we hope that you find peace of mind and comfort in our accreditation, as well as our policy, processes and practices. However, we want you to know that it doesn’t stop here. It is your job as parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, god parents and citizens of the world to keep questioning, stay vigilant and to uphold our critical value:
‘See something, Say something’.
It doesn’t take a cape and a mask to be a hero when it comes to Child Protection. It doesn’t take a degree in Social Work, 20 years working with families or even being a parent. It is everyone’s responsibility to understand the signs, to stay vigilant and to know who to talk to, even if something ‘just doesn’t feel right’. There are children out there relying on us to notice, to hear and to talk about matters of child protection.
Below are some links to fantastic resources to help you educate yourself on the signs of child abuse, who to go to for further information or advice, and the contact information for our Child Protection Advisor, Courtney Rohan.
Courtney Rohan: Child Protection Advisor, YMCA Brisbane
(07) 3253 1700