Archive: Sep 2015

Congratulations to the Play Your Part Award recipients 

NAPCAN was impressed with the calibre of nominations for the Play Your Part Awards and proud to award the 17 recipients for playing their part to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people, through inspiring initiatives including the South East Integrated Family Support Services in Tasmania, a voluntary program that works with vulnerable children, young people and families across the state.

One of their clients was a teenage mother on the streets of Hobart, who now has a home with her two children. “I nearly lost everything, my kids and my health, but now I’ve done the hard yards and I’m on the road to recovery.”

The Malabam Health Board Aboriginal Corporation, received a Northern Territory award for the “GREATS” Youth Service initiative which promotes strong peer and family relationships; self-esteem, resilience and social connections in the Aboriginal Community, which ‘is staffed by our community mob’, said Noeletta McKenzie, manager of GYS. In the past three years Maningrida community has not been affected by any youth suicides, a significant achievement in a complex environment.

The National Individual Play Your Part Award went to Amrit Versha for being an inspiring advocate for children’s safety and wellbeing in the migrant and refugee community. Amrit Versha knew no one when she arrived in Australia 27 years ago. She has since committed herself to ensuring migrant women, children and families don’t feel alone but are supported, empowered and connected to their community.

Two other National Play Your Part Awards went to Kids Helpline and Optus for the Kids Helpline @ School program and the National Children’s and Youth Law Centre and collaborators for Lawmail, Lawstuff and Online Safety.

The South Coast Child Wellbeing Network and the Immigrant Women’s Health Service received their New South Wales Play Your Part Awards at a ceremony at Juniper Hall, Sydney which featured the As Eye See It exhibition. The photographs and stories displayed expressed the view of the world by children and young people in out-of-home care as part of National Child Protection Week community events.

The South Coast Child Wellbeing Network was formed under the ethos that Protecting Children is Everyone’s Business. The network joined together to promote the wellbeing and safety of children and young people as a community responsibility in an area with a  significant number of vulnerable families.

The Immigrant Women’s Health Service were recognised for the Multicultural Parenting Project. The CEO of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service, said that the Project “educates children by teaching parents which in fact educates the nation”. Congratulations to the Play Your Part Award recipients. Read about the Inspiring Prevention Initiatives from each State and Territory that were recognised by NAPCAN in 2015.

Pictured are the NSW Play Your Part Award recipients, from left Johanne Sneddon and Samantha Lukey from the South Coast Child Wellbeing Network, Anna Richardson an original member of the Network’s working party and Audrey Lai, the Management Committee Chair of the Board of the Immigrant Women’s Health Service.

Thank you for your support of National Child Protection Week 2015

NAPCAN is thrilled with the response to National Child Protection Week 2015. The week was a great success, including a 20 per cent increase in the number of registered National Child Protection Week community events this year.

Events and activities were held across the country to promote the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and families from karaoke in Northern NSW, a Dress Up Day in QLD, a Promotion Street Stall in the NT, a Family fun afternoon in SA, an Australian Law Information Session in Granville, Sydney, the launch of the ‘Strengthening Child Safe Organisations’ report in TAS and a ‘Healthy Living in Katanning’ Art Exhibition in WA. See the community events.

Some events are still occurring, Play Your Part Award recipient South Coast Child Wellbeing Network are hosting their annual Family Fun Day tomorrow in Warrawong, see the details.

The 17 award recipients from every state and territory were presented their awards at ceremonies across the country. The national award recipient’s Amrit Versha, for being an inspiring advocate for children’s safety and wellbeing in the migrant and refugee community and the National Children’s Youth and Law Centre’s collaboration were presented at the launch of National Child Protection Week by His Excellency Sir Peter Cosgrove, Governor-General of Australia at Admiralty House, see the NAPCAN events photo gallery.

The Governor-General launched the 25th National Child Protection Week, speaking about the importance of keeping children safe by listening to them and acting on their needs and recognising NAPCAN’s commitment to the prevention of child abuse and neglect over the past 25 years. NAPCAN Board President Teresa Scott, reflected on what has been achieved over the past quarter century but spoke of the continuing need to educate Australians on the role they can play in creating safer, healthier and happier communities for children, young people and their families.

Kristian Reyes, a NAPCAN Love Bites program facilitator, shared at the official launch his passion for working with young people about developing respectful relationships and his moving story of being here today because of the women in his life, particularly his mother.

The music video Never Stop Shining, (see image below) about empowerment and self-esteem featuring young women who took part in the Love Bites workshops in the Midwest, Western Australia was shown at the ceremony.  Read more.

Kids Helpline and Optus received their national award for the Kids Helpline @ School Program from the Hon. Scott Morrison at a special presentation at Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School in Canberra. Year six students took part in a session with a professional counsellor in their classroom via video technology which demonstrated the free national service.

The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre is one of a kind

The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre’s collaboration with a law firm, Australian business, the University of New South Wales and the Commonwealth Government provides the only free legal service dedicated to children, young people and their advocates in Australia.

The collaboration won a 2015 NAPCAN National Play Your Part Award for its work in leading reform in Children’s Law, hosting Lawmail and the website Lawstuff which provides information ranging from cyber and school bullying to forced child marriage, family violence, criminal law and discrimination at work.

In the words of clients: ‘to provide such concise advice in such a short period of time for no cost is something nowhere else to be found in the world.’

“It makes it easy for young people like myself who were in deep s… to get some good, free legal advice”.

The 2012 Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales’ Legal Australia-Wide (LAW) survey found that four in ten, 15 to 17 year-olds in Australia will experience at least one legal problem a year. Of those, 20% will report stress-related illnesses, 19% physical ill-health and financial strain in 29%.

Lawmail and Lawstuff help children and young people to solve their legal issues and provide practical problem-solving assistance, therefore improving their wellbeing and safety.

The director of the Centre, Matthew Keeley said that if any part of the collaboration wasn’t there the service couldn’t function.

“Without the University of New South Wales there would be no office or infrastructure to work from and without the financial support of the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department and law firm King & Wood Mallesons there would be no Lawstuff, which is accessed by over 1 million people a year,” he said.

“Without the pro bono legal assistance of King & Wood Mallesons, Telstra, and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission, the Centre would not have been able to grow to support over 2,200 young people through Lawmail these past 12 months.”

The National Children’s and Youth Law Centre is a national centre of excellence which was instrumental in changing the Victorian laws so that no longer can children be charged for taking naked photos of themselves under child pornography laws. The reform also makes it easier for young victims of ‘revenge pornography’ to seek help.

“We strongly believe that national law reform relating to sexting is needed.

“We are also researching a national body of work around the impact that a criminal record has on young people, especially in later life.

“We’re advocating for new laws so that young adults are protected in the same way that children now are with the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act.”

The centre was the leading NGO contributor to the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act, 2015 (Cth), which established a Children’s e-Safety Commissioner to resolve cyberbullying complaints and a system of take-down notices to remove bullying content from the internet.

Ms Ahram Choi, the acting principal solicitor of the Centre said that they have seen an increase in cyber bullying and sexting inquiries.

“Cyber bullying, online defamation, sexting, school discipline, expulsions and suspensions, bullying, leaving home, renting, entering into contracts and age of consent laws are some of the common subjects which children and young people seek advice about,” she said.

The community legal centre also conducts consultations with children and young people about laws relating to online behaviour and has developed in partnership with Legal Aid NSW, resources about children and young people’s rights and the safe use of social media.

In 2014 Lawmail clients came from across Australia: 18% from inner regional, 9% from outer regional, 6% from very remote Australia and 5% of the clients identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. The Centre’s capacity to serve disadvantaged youth who often find geographical distance a barrier to legal services is significant, especially as according to the Listen to Children 2011 Child Rights NGO Report, jointly authored by the Centre, Aboriginal children aged 10–17 are 24 times more likely to be jailed than non-Aboriginal children.

In 2014, the collaboration helped one in four of all 10 – 17 year-olds that requested advice from community legal centres across Australia (of which there are almost 200). Of all the clients that provided feedback, 91% responded that the Centre’s advice and referrals were very useful or useful.

The Centre also co-convenes the Child Rights Taskforce, Australia’s peak child rights body, which advocates for the protection of child rights in Australia.

The Centre employs four permanent staff, including a lawyer on secondment from King & Wood Mallesons, 20 on-site volunteers and around 200 volunteers working remotely from collaborating organisations.

Mr Keeley said that the positive feedback the Centre receives from children and young people provides the continuing motivation behind much of the collaborators’ work, however more help is needed.

“We are in desperate need of more funding. In the last four years the number of young people that we help directly has nearly tripled yet our staffing has remained the same,” he said.

Pictured from left Rachel Delaney (Telstra), Noam Peleg (UNSW Law), Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Jane Farnsworth (KWM), Matthew Keeley (NCYLC), Joan Jardine (AGD and Thomas Hough (ASIC).