“Child abuse and neglect is preventable,” says NAPCAN CEO Richard Cooke. “If we all work together as a community, we can create an Australia where all children can grow up safe and well.”
This year is the 30th anniversary of NAPCAN leading a Child Protection Week campaign, and the theme is “Putting Children First”.
“Putting children first means prioritising their safety, welfare and wellbeing,” says Connie Peate, an investigator with the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s child protection agency, the Office of Safeguarding.
Ms Peate is a passionate advocate for the prevention of child abuse and neglect. She meets regularly with diocesan stakeholders including social services and teaching staff, and parents and leaders, to promote and implement child protection policies.
“To thrive, children need to be loved, feel safe, and have access to the essentials such as food, shelter, medical and mental health support,” she says.
Ms Peate acknowledges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed added strain on families and communities. As a result of pandemic-related pressures, and the increased presence of children and young people online, she cautions that now, more than ever, we all need to play our part in protecting children.
“It is important that we listen to, and value, what children have to say,” she says. “Where possible, include their voices in decision making and be advocates for their best interest.”
How do we help create stronger, happier communities?
“If we speak regularly with children about their personal safety and ways in which they can protect themselves, and listen to their worries, they are more likely to trust us and feel comfortable talking with us when they feel concerned,” says Ms Peate.
“Check in and help your neighbours and friends, be a good role model, support and be kind to parents rather than judging or being competitive, and speak up if you see something that is unsafe.”
Kindergarten to year 2
Year 3 to year 6
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland- Newcastle is committed to the safeguarding of children. The Diocese has an abiding commitment to promote the safety, welfare, and wellbeing of children. The Office of Safeguarding (OoSG) is the structural expression of the Diocese’s commitment to demonstrate the highest standards of recognising and upholding the dignity and rights of all children.
The OoSG provides training to diocesan personnel to ensure they adopt safe work practices and increase awareness of child protection concerns. The OoSG also provides an intake service to assist diocesan personnel in ensuring they meet their mandatory reporting obligations as well as their duty-of-care obligations. Risk assessments and comprehensive compliance audits are also undertaken to ensure the Diocese is compliant with various safeguarding regulatory and contractual obligations and to reduce and manage identified risks.