MORE than 96,000 Aussie kids will be kept safer in a national joint initiative to be launched on the Gold Coast this Saturday between leading child protection advocate Bravehearts and Little Athletics Australia (LAA).
Designed to create change and empower the community at large, Bravehearts criminologists, psychologists and education teams have worked alongside the Queensland Police Child Protection Unit to develop the program, which takes a proactive approach to educating and motivating all adults who work with children.
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Bravehearts Founder and CEO Hetty Johnston said the Supporting Hands program was the culmination of 16 years of evidence-based research working directly with survivors of child sexual assault and learning from their experiences.
“We are delighted to partner with Little Athletics Australia – an organisation taking child protection seriously by empowering its staff and volunteers with vital training around child sexual assault,” she said.
“Every organisation that works with children has a duty of care and responsibility to protect them. Supporting Hands provides general information on child sexual assault, addresses risk factors and how to avoid them, what predatory behaviour looks like, how to respond to disclosures, how to identify indicators of harm in children and much more.
“By increasing the general awareness of this crime and its prevalence in the Australian community, this program enables organisations such as Little Athletics to play a crucial role in helping to protect the most vulnerable members of our community whilst allaying the unhelpful fear factor associated with this sensitive issue.”
LAA provides modified athletics activities for children aged between five and 15 years with an emphasis on ‘Family, Fun and Fitness’.
Chief Executive Officer Martin Stillman said child protection was something everyone should be mindful of, and as a sporting organisation working with children, a child protection education process is vital.
“Little Athletics had more than 96,000 children participating in our activities in the past 12 months Australia-wide and we have a duty of care to ensure their personal safety is paramount,” he said.
“If Bravehearts Supporting Hands program can help Little Athletics volunteers protect one child from this horrific crime, it has been a very worthwhile exercise. Helping to protect 96,000 kids is just amazing.”
The Supporting Hands workshops will form part of each Little Athletics’ State Association Conference programs for 2014, with State Conferences and workshops taking place across the country in June, July and August. Little Athletics staff and directors, volunteers, parents, coaches and officials will all participate.
Supporting Hands aims to address the myths that surround child sexual assault and misperceptions that are commonly held in relation to offenders. Modules include summarised topics on Child Sexual Assault: Facts and Stats; Effects and Trauma of Child Sexual Assault; Offenders and those who Commit Harm; Dealing with Disclosures and Reporting Concerns.