Children’s Week is an annual event celebrated in Australia which celebrates the right of children to enjoy childhood. It is also a time to demonstrate children’s talents, skills and abilities with a diverse range of events and activities organised at local, state and national levels.
Children’s Week will be held from October 22 – October 30 2016. This year’s theme is “Children Have the Right to Reliable Information from the Media.”
For more information about the Week, visit http://www.childrensweek.org.au/.
Below is the Children’s Week 2016 official message from the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).
Among the Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence’s most important recommendations is the powerful acknowledgement that family violence has devastating effects on children. Commissioner Marcia Neave described children as the “silent victims” of family violence.
This important emphasis has been a long time coming.
The commission noted that children have conventionally been overlooked as victims of family violence. This is the legacy of limited or incomplete data-gathering, siloed responses, and complicated referral processes. The result is children enduring harm without the specialised supports to help them cope with the trauma of family violence.
Witnessing violence is experiencing violence
There are myriad ways in which children experience violence in family settings. Children may endure violence directly, or witness violence perpetrated on others. Both scenarios result in severe adverse effects for children in the short and long term.
The impacts that family violence has on children have been broadly acknowledged at the national level. Yet the commission’s suite of recommendations about service responses for child victims of family violence are welcome. They are a highly practical mechanism for ensuring that children’s well-being is a central consideration in reforming Victoria’s family violence services.
Central to the commission’s recommendations is the provision of priority funding to increase specialised therapeutic counselling for children affected by family violence.
Other practical recommendations to ensure child victims are no longer overlooked include:
Multiple recommendations are made to improve children’s immediate safety needs. These include improved access to suitable crisis accommodation for women and children, complete with the specialised consultations necessary to support children.
Legislative changes are also recommended, including amendments to allow for the inclusion of children on family violence intervention orders.
The commission’s approach of mainstreaming children’s well-being throughout all recommendations enhances its child-specific recommendations. The establishment of support and safety hubs, for example, would ensure intake teams include staff trained in children’s services and that, where possible, services necessary for children are co-located.
This approach lays the foundation for the multi-sectoral cultural change that is required to ensure children’s needs are considered as a matter of course.
Adolescents who use family violence
The commission’s report also examined the system’s adequacy in preventing and responding to children and young people who perpetrate family violence.
The report found that one in ten family violence incidents reported to Victoria Police in the last five years were perpetrated by a person under 19 years of age.
Where these behaviours occur, specialised response is required to divert young people from the criminal justice system, and to provide the therapeutic support necessary for behavioural change. The report recognised that, at present, there are:
… no systemic responses to the needs of these young people and their families.
The recommendations included:
The commission reinforced the importance of respectful relationship education as a key measure for preventing future violence. This is of critical importance for young people who are victims and/or perpetrators of family violence.
The commission reported that between 2009-10 and 2013-14, children were present at roughly 35% of family violence incidents. Investing resources in the rigorous design, evaluation and delivery of educational programs for children is crucial in challenging the normalisation of violence that is driven by media images and, for some children, by the violence they endure in their own homes.
There is a need for caution here, however, to ensure that preventative efforts of this kind don’t pin unfair expectations on children to champion non-violent behaviours when so much around them valourises or condones violence. How realistic is it to expect children to bear responsibility for swimming against such a tide?
Part of the answer to this question lies in the commission’s attention to the need for cultural change more generally. If we are to prevent family violence, we must change the attitudes and social conditions that give rise to it.
At the heart of the recommended prevention strategy is an effort to redress the sociocultural power imbalance that devalues women and perpetuates gender inequality. This carries an understanding that wholesale cultural change is required to permanently eradicate family violence. Now is the time for precisely this same understanding about the need to challenge views that allow for the continued harm of children within the home.
Children’s experiences of violence have been overlooked for too long. If we seek to change the narrative that devalues women then we must also tackle the cultures of silence and secrecy that allow for the domination of children.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has indicated that cultures of secrecy function to minimise or conceal violence against children. The family violence royal commission has now found that the violence endured by children in the home has been dealt with only marginally.
Together, these findings convey a powerful message about the urgent need to create the cultural change necessary to ensure children’s well-being.
The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
National Youth Week will be held 8 – 17 April 2016. The week is a joint initiative of the Australian, State, Territory and Local Governments. It is an annual occasion to celebrate young people, giving them a platform to express their ideas and views and act on issues that affect their lives.
In accordance with this, Youth Action and ARACY have launched a national survey of Australian young people to capture issues of importance to young people which can be highlighted at the upcoming Federal Election. NAPCAN urges you to encourage young people across your networks to complete the survey by clicking here.
Want to participate in the week? Events are taking place across Australia to celebrate National Youth Week. To find out about events near you, click through to the Youth Week website in your state or territory:
NSW | NT | VIC |SA | QLD | ACT | TAS | WA
NAPCAN is looking forward to partnering with Leichhardt Council in Sydney to facilitate Respectful Relationships education to the local high school students as part of an a sustainable strategy to reduce violence against women and children in the next generation of parents.
Since 2007, NAPCAN have led the development of Respectful Relationships programming in schools through our highly regarded Love Bites program. The delivery methodology in schools via local agencies has proven to be an effective interagency strategy that brings many benefits to the community.
NAPCAN, in partnership with Leichhardt Council and local agencies including Rozelle Neighbourhood Centre, aim to build on the Love Bites year 10 Respectful Relationships program to implement a whole of school/community strategy beginning in primary schools, building through high school and beyond the school gates to include local clubs and other youth services.
NAPCAN welcomes the leadership demonstrated by Leichhardt Council as we work together to further develop our local area implementation model for Respectful Relationships skills development aimed at reducing family and gender based violence.
In partnership with Western Sydney University, Local Government and community partners, NAPCAN aim to target local area clusters in urban, rural and remote NSW through a local area implementation framework. The framework will provide a scalable and effective methodology to manage and measure the delivery and impact of programming and campaigns on Domestic and Family Violence in the long term.
“Through commitment and leadership at a local level, we can collectively achieve a sustainable approach to reducing violence against women and children” said NAPCAN’s CEO, Richard Cooke.
The first stage of the partnership with Leichhardt Council will see staff from local organisations completing NAPCAN facilitator training and the Love Bites program rolled out to 400 Year 10 students in 2016.
To see the full media release, please click here.
International Women’s Day will be celebrated across the globe on 8 March 2016. The day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women both past and present.
It also acknowledges that violence against women and girls is a serious problem in the home and around the world, and encourages people to make a commitment to end this violence.
NAPCAN, through its respectful relationship education and community based programming, works with individuals and communities to affect generational change to end violence against women and children.
International Women’s Day is supported by the UN Women National Committee in Australia who are running a number of events across the country. To view events in your state or territory, please click here.
ReachOut has collaborated with the Department of Industry and Science Business Cooperative Research Program and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre to create an online Toolbox of health and wellbeing apps for young people.
The Toolbox on the ReachOut website recommends apps to help young people with health and fitness, being independent, relationships & helping others, thoughts and emotions and dealing with tough times. All apps are endorsed by professionals and reviewed by young people under 25.
The website features a quiz where young people can select what’s most important to them in terms of their wellbeing goals. At the end of the quiz, a selection of apps are recommended to the user.
To access the Toolbox with relevant apps and to take the quiz, please click here.
Amrit Versha received a 2015 National Play Your Part Award for being an inspiring advocate for children’s safety and wellbeing in the migrant community.
The human rights advocate was recently interviewed by SBS Radio to speak about the training program she will be conducting as part of SAHELI, a group that works with the South Asian community. The program on family safety will be run as part of International Women’s Day in March.
Listen to the interview below.
Tuesday 9 February is Safer Internet Day across the globe, being supported in Australia by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.
The aim of the day is to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile devices, especially amongst children and young people.
This year’s theme encourages people to ‘Play your part for a better internet!’ and highlights the importance of making the most of positive opportunities online, whilst giving young people resilience, skills, knowledge and support to navigate online risks.
The Office of the eSafety Commissioner have a range of activities and resources available as part of Safer Internet Day. To get involved, visit https://www.esafety.gov.au/about-the-office/events/safer-internet-day-2016.
The local Indigenous community in Broken Hill NSW including young people, elders and community members collaborated with Desert Pea Media and Warra Warra Legal service to create a unique dialogue-based songwriting project to address domestic violence in their community.
Broken Hill NSW was recently identified as having one of the highest rates of domestic violence in NSW. The local Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service determined that the best way to tackle the issue was to create more dialogue and education. With the support of local elder Uncle Willy Riley, the group spent 5 days discussing where family violence comes from, and how they might deal with it as a community to create a safer, happier place.
The ‘Speak 2 Heal’ project is a call to arms to speak up about family violence wherever you encounter it. To be proud of your community, speak up every time and look out for each other.
NAPCAN welcomes the Third Action Plan 2015-18, under the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020, which was launched on 9 December.
The Third Action Plan marks an important ongoing commitment of Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in partnership with non-government organisations to address and prevent child abuse and neglect.
Launching the Third Action Plan the Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter said, “It is vital we do everything we can to improve the safety, wellbeing and health of our children.”
“Through this plan we aim to get better information to parents about the first 1000 days of a child’s life and why they are so important. This includes providing practical advice to expectant parents to get them ready for the responsibilities ahead of them, advice to new parents about how to support their child’s development and where to go to get help” said Mr Porter.
NAPCAN endorses this commitment to assisting parents in the challenging and rewarding task of raising children.
NAPCAN CEO Richard Cooke said, “The increased focus on getting better information to parents and the community about the developmental needs in the first 1000 days of a child’s life is critical in improving the safety and wellbeing of our children.”
“It takes village to raise a child and communities must be resourced and empowered to be able to assist families to thrive. We look forward to working together to increase the safety and wellbeing of all children.”
Key areas of work in the Third Action Plan will be:
NAPCAN is pleased to be participating in the implementation of this plan with all levels of Government and the NGO partners.
For more information go to: www.dss.gov.au/protectingaustraliaschildren.