Next week, the Y NSW is celebrating 30 years of National Child Protection Week by rolling out one of the first child safety models co-designed by children and young people across a country.
The Y NSW, which operates 27 Recreation and Leisure Facilities in NSW and the ACT, is demonstrating its continued commitment as a leader in ensuring children and young people are safe through its “Stay Safe, Tell Someone” program.
The program is the first to be developed through the eyes and voices of more than 500 children in Australia aged three to 18, who participated in face-to-face consultations and surveys.
The Y Australia, the national arm of the YMCA movement, overseeing 14 member associations, developed the program over the past year.
The Y’s Safeguarding Children and Young People National Executive Phil Doorgachurn said “Stay Safe, Tell Someone” encouraged children to speak up.
“We commenced this program with Delroy Consulting in early 2019 and the message from the consultations and surveys was clear – if you see something, hear something or feel something that makes you feel unsafe or worried, you should tell someone,” he said.
“We had children and young people participate from 17 different locations across five States and Territories, including the remote communities Coolgardie, Leonora, Menzies and Williamstown in Western Australia.
“The children and young people told us that the best way for them to learn about safety and to raise concerns is through direct communication with a trusted adult and that we should keep information simple using images and words.”
The 2017 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that on average it takes a survivor 23.9 years to disclose their abuse, which Mr Doorgachurn said was simply unacceptable.
“That’s clearly intolerable and it’s why we have been driven to develop these resources that can be easily understood by children and young people, easily adapted for different communities and languages and easily delivered in a variety of settings from schools to sports fields through to youth clubs,” he said.
During National Child Protection Week (6-12 September), the Y is supporting the 2020 theme of “Putting Children First” by piloting the program, using a training package, videos, posters and merchandise, through its 14 member associations and plans to make the resources more broadly available to other child-facing organisations in the future.
The Y NSW Chief Executive Susannah Le Bron said she was proud to support the delivery of the program throughout the state.
“This is a fantastic program, which will help children and young people to be heard, which is so important around such a critical topic,” she said.
“As a leading child-safe organisation, the Y recognises the need for a shift in thinking around child protection. That’s why we are rolling out messages that are informed by children and young people.
“I’m really excited to see the posters appear in our Recreation and Leisure facilities and hearing the different conversations this program is sure to inspire with children, young people and the wider community.”
National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) National Manager Child Safe Organisations Sammy Bruderer said children feel safer when adults care about them, value their opinions, pay attention and are responsive when they raise concerns.
“It’s so important that we all value the voices of children and young people and work alongside them to create meaningful child safe and friendly environments.
“Children perceive and experience safety differently to adults. Their wellbeing is just too important for us to be making guesses about their feelings of safety and what they need.
“When we involve children in matters that affect them, as the Y has done, we end up with better outcomes for everyone - the children, the organisation and the broader community.”
The training package was endorsed by Katia, 7, of Sydney, who said the “Stay Safe, Tell Someone” poster was visually appealing and easy to understand.
“This poster means that if someone is in trouble – if they see it, hear it or feel it, you go ask a teacher, a parent, any adult you can trust,” she said.
The training package is targeted at four audiences: children (up to 6 years), children (7 to 11 years), young people (12 to 18 years) and adults.
For “Stay Safe, Tell Someone” images and videos click here.
About the Y in Australia: The Y is a community not-for-profit and the oldest youth organisation in the world (175 years’ old). Services include: children’s services (early learning, kindergarten and Outside School Hours Care), recreation (swimming, gyms, gymnastics), camping, youth programs and disability services. Visit the Y Australia for more information.
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