Roper Gulf Regional Council is urging remote communities to help promote child safety awareness this White Balloon Day, as the organisation moves to strengthen its own youth safety policies during National Child Protection Week from September 2-7.
White Balloon Day is an initiative of the Bravehearts organisation, and is currently Australia’s only national awareness and fundraising campaign dedicated to preventing child sexual assault.
Roper Gulf Mayor Judy MacFarlane says council strongly supports the child safety campaign and in doing so has updated its own child protection measures in the lead-up to this year’s event.
“Child protection is the responsibility of everyone within the community – family, friends, teachers, police – we all have a role to play,” she said.
“The situation facing many remote Northern Territory children is alarming and as a council we want to raise awareness of the issues and support initiatives which protect and support vulnerable children.
“We have recently adopted a Mandatory Reporting policy to strengthen our own responsibilities to children within our local communities.
“This compliments our existing Ochre Card policy, which ensures all council staff have appropriate clearances to work with children before they enter any local community.”
Council will host a number of events today to mark White Balloon Day, including a community barbeque in Jilkminggan and a morning tea fundraiser at the regional headquarters in Katherine.
The Manyallaluk crèche will also be decorated with white balloons for a cupcake morning tea.
In Australia, a child is sexually assaulted every 90 minutes.Hetty Johnston
Mayor MacFarlane says the events are a great opportunity for community members to get involved with the campaign.
“As we mark White Balloon Day I ask everyone within the Roper Gulf region to reflect on the child safety message and specifically what we could all be doing better to protect our younger generations,” she said.
Hetty Johnston AM founded Bravehearts in 1997 after her young daughter’s disclosure of sexual assault. She said the organisation was delighted Roper Gulf Regional Council was participating in White Balloon Day this year.
“In Australia, a child is sexually assaulted every 90 minutes – that’s 1 in 5 children who are sexually harmed in some way before their 18th birthday – a statistic that is totally unacceptable in Australian society,” she said.
“Child protection is everybody’s business with Local Governments among the most important stakeholders in child protection.
“Recommendation 6.12 of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse calls on all levels of government nationally to help protect children in their communities, so it’s wonderful to see Roper Gulf Regional Council taking an active role in promoting Braveheart’s child safe messages.
“Every Australian child has the right to feel safe and we’re indebted to the council for taking what is a significant step toward making their region a safer community for all children.”
Bravehearts’ White Balloon Day campaign, funded by the Department of Social Services - National Initiatives, is Australia’s longest running annual national awareness campaign for the prevention of child sexual assault.
Bravehearts offers specialised support, education and training services for children, families, schools, childcare centres and organisations. Call the toll free Support Line on 1800 272 831 Monday to Friday between 8.30am to 4.30pm (AEST) or visit the website www.bravehearts.org.au.
IMG-White Balloon Day: Roper Gulf Regional Council is urging all residents
to help create a safe community environment for local children.