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Media release: NAPCAN calls on all Queenslanders to ask themselves how they can play their part in protecting children

Media release: 30 September 2016

National child abuse prevention agency, NAPCAN, calls on all Queenslanders to ask themselves how they can play their part in protecting all children.

The death of 12-year-old schoolgirl, Tiahleigh Palmer, is a senseless tragedy that has touched almost every Queenslander and rightfully raised feelings of anger, blame, sadness and helplessness.

But NAPCAN urges Queenslanders to move away from blame and aggressive finger-pointing and to ask ourselves ‘what can I do to play my part in protecting children?’.  

Reviews to learn from our mistakes and change how we work with children are important, but the only way we will ever keep children and young people truly safe is to prevent child abuse and neglect before it starts. The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has clearly demonstrated that, in spite of organisations’ policies and procedures, perpetrators are still offending. It is clear from this that we need to move beyond formal processes and work towards changing the culture of organisations and communities to ensure that everyone plays their part in keeping children and young people safe.

The sad reality is that Tiahleigh was directly and indirectly failed by many adults during her short life; but rather than focus blame on those people, we need to ask ourselves tough questions about what we would have done, and how we can protect other vulnerable children.

NAPCAN’s National Survey in 2009 showed that less than half of the Australian community would take action to protect a child even when confronted with clear signs of abuse or neglect. This attitude can no longer be tolerated; we need to bring child abuse and neglect into the light, and actively support families, organisations and communities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

Unfortunately, we will never be able to bring Tiahleigh back, but we can honour her memory.

We urge all Australians to honour Tiahleigh’s memory by working together to ensure that all children and young people live free from violence, abuse and neglect.  

NAPCAN is heartened to see a strong focus on prevention in the policies of the Department of Child Safety under Minister Fentiman, but warns that we can’t rely solely on government agencies to fix these problems.

If it takes a village to raise a child, then the entire village needs to accept some responsibility when a child is abused.  

How can you play your part?

Be part of your communityThe evidence tells us that social cohesion provides a protective effect for children. This means building communities where there is a sense of belonging, where people know each other, where families are supported, where children are seen and heard, and where everyone plays a part in keeping children safe.

Listen to, and believe, children – When we look at horrific cases of abuse, one of the consistent themes is the how important it is to believe children and to act. What would you do if a child confided in you?

Help to change the conversation – When talking about tragedies such as Tiahleigh’s death, we can all help to move the conversation away from blame and back to ‘what can we do to stop this from happening again?’. We need to all challenge ourselves about our own behaviour. What would I have done? Do I know enough about the signs of child abuse and neglect? How can I look out for children in my community and help to support vulnerable families?

Reach out for help – Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you, or someone you know, needs support. We are fortunate in Queensland to have a range of great hotlines and support numbers including:

  • Parentline – 1300 30 1300
  • Family and Child Connect – 13 32 64
  • Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800

For more information about how you can play your part in protecting children, visit

Media contact:

Helen Fogarty, Media & Communication, NAPCAN:, 0410 541 997

Please contact to arrange comment/interviews with:

  • Teresa Scott, NAPCAN President, or
  • Sammy Bruderer, NAPCAN Queensland Manager


The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, (NAPCAN) was founded in 1987. NAPCAN’s mission is to support and encourage changes in individual and community behaviour to stop child abuse and neglect before it starts. NAPCAN contributes to the safety and wellbeing of Australia’s children by raising public awareness of child abuse & neglect and by developing effective prevention strategies and programs in partnership with communities.

Click here to download this media release as a PDF


Governor-General launches National Child Protection Week and announces Play Your Part Awards

Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove today launched National Child Protection Week and announced the winners of this year’s Play Your Part Awards, shining a light on some of the best work being done to combat child abuse and neglect.

Organised by the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, the awards announced at Admiralty House recognise inspiring initiatives that promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

The National Play Your Part Award for 2016 has been awarded to yourtown’s, Kids Helpline, the only 24-hour free phone and counselling service for children and young people aged five to 25.

Kids Helpline has been recognised for their work in keeping children safe, valuing and nurturing children to prevent abuse and neglect and supporting those already affected.

yourtown (formerly BoysTown) CEO, Tracy Adams, is grateful for the recognition and says they will continue to listen, protect and care for children and young people around Australia.

She says Kids Helpline started 25 years ago to ensure all children knew there was someone there for them – to listen, to protect and to care at any time.

“The service, like our young people and our communities, has seen many changes but what has not changed is the need for children and young people to be heard,” she says. “We made that promise when we started Kids Helpline and we remain committed to it. To be acknowledged for our role in protecting children and young people is something everyone involved in the service is very excited by and proud of.”

In the last year, more than 40,000 children were officially reported as suffering abuse and neglect in Australia. NAPCAN aims to prevent child abuse and neglect by assisting communities, governments, organisations and committed individuals across Australia and internationally to implement strength-based, community-led initiatives to enhance the safety and wellbeing of children and young people.

During National Child Protection Week from 4-10 September, each state and territory will host its own events, including the presentation of 13 State and Territory Play Your Part Awards.

NAPCAN President Teresa Scott says the organisation’s goal is to make child protection a part of everyday life by encouraging everyone to play their part in the prevention of child abuse and neglect in children and young people. She urges all Australians to stop asking only ‘who is to blame?’ and to start asking ‘what can I do to help?’

“We’re proud of our history as an organisation, but there is so much more to be done, in light of ongoing revelations through the Royal Commission and the recent Northern Territory youth detention scandal,” she says. “We rightly need to ask, ‘what happened?’ but we also need to ask ourselves, ‘how do we stop this from happening in the first place?’ Protecting children is everyone’s business.”

“The work of our Play Your Part recipients reminds us of the fantastic work that is already happening and the need to commit ourselves to long term strategies that will prevent harm to children in the first place.”

During NCPW, a number of prevention initiatives will be launched, including the ‘Stronger Communities, Safer Children’ report developed in association with the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS), which outlines key findings from up-to-date research on prevention success.

The recipients of the NAPCAN Play Your Part Awards 2016 are:

National Play Your Part Awards

  • Kids Helpline, yourtown – Free and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people ages 5 to 25.

Play Your Part Awards New South Wales

  • WINGS Drop in Centre, Maari Ma Health – An after school and holiday safe haven for the children of the geographically isolated, largely Aboriginal community of Wilcannia.
  • KARI Scholarship Program – Supports the education of Aboriginal children in Western Sydney by offering scholarships to young people in year 11 and 12.

Play Your Part Awards Victoria

  • Mentoring Mums, Children’s Protection Society Assists vulnerable new mothers who might have experienced family violence, are isolated, or from a low socio-economic background and are struggling personally with caring for their baby.

Play Your Part Awards 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 Straight Islander students.

Play Your Part Awards South Australia

  • Sarah Decrea, Relationships Australia’s Ngartuitya program – An inspiring individual who has redesigned a range of programs to be culturally appropriate and accessible to Aboriginal families in the region.
  • Know Before You Load App (Australian Council on Children and the Media) – Assists parents in finding age appropriate and enjoyable apps for their children and avoid those that promote simulated gambling behaviour.

Play Your Part Awards Western Australia

  • Safe Clubs 4 Kids coordinated by WA Sports Federation – Aims to create safe environments for children involved in sport and recreation by raising awareness, creating behaviour change and normalising the sensitive topic of child safety.

Play Your Part Awards Australian Capital Territory

  • Child Aware Local Initiative, YWCA An early intervention and prevention program that has been critical in keeping vulnerable children in the area safe through initiatives such as co-location of services.

Play Your Part Awards Tasmania

Play Your Part Awards Northern Territory

  • Smile-a-mile Toy LibraryMobile play sessions and a toy library accessible to regional and remote areas of the state.

NCPW is from 4 – 10 September and involves community events all around Australia. To find out what’s happening near you, click here.


Media Contact:  

Helen Fogarty | | 0410 541997

Sian Wright | | 02 9368 7277 | 0435 857 280

Launch of NAPCAN and AIFS Research Findings

As part of National Child Protection Week 2016, NAPCAN and AIFS are pleased to launch the document Stronger communities, safer children: Findings from recent Australian research on the importance of community in keeping children safe.

This document provides important information for all Australians to see how working together to build community can help to create a safer environment for all children. In particular, we urge governments and decision-makers to consider these findings in order to prioritise projects that contribute to community and focus on the prevention of abuse and neglect.

Download the NAPCAN and AIFS Stronger Communities, Safer Children paper