According to Michelle Landry, Australia’s assistant minister for children and families, for all kids to thrive and be healthy, adequate family support must be available.
The assistant minister made her comments on Monday, to mark National Child Protection Week (5-11 September). This year the week’s theme is ‘every child, in every community, needs a fair go’.
“We need to make sure that every family in Australia has access to the support that kids need to thrive and be healthy,” Landry said in a statement.
“[The federal government is] working in close partnership with the states and territories, and the sector more broadly, to develop the new 10-year National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children,” she added.
Supporting children in especially vulnerable groups like those in out-of-home care will be the focus of the government’s proposed framework, Landry said. The focus will also include children with complex needs, indigenous children, those living with a disability, and those who have been abused or neglected.
“National child protection week is an effective way to spread the message that all of us – families, communities, governments and organisations – have a role to play when it comes to keeping children safe in Australia,” Landry said.
“I encourage all Australians to be a champion for child safety in your community.”
Meanwhile, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation will also be using the week to run its 7th annual National eSmart campaign, which raises awareness about online safety for children, as well as how to prevent online bullying.
The advocacy group is encouraging school and library staff, students and parents to visit their online calendar of eSmart events that features story time readings and digital activities that promote positive connections.
The foundation has invested in a range of tools and programs aimed at improving online safety and digital literacy using gamified products and a media literacy lab aimed at students aged 12-16 years. It has also developed an eSmart digital licence for children aged 10-14 years.
Sarah Davies, CEO of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, said that schools were the best place to focus online safety efforts because they represented ‘strongholds of safety’ for children.
“It’s critical we do everything we can to ensure our kids are safe online and our schools are strongholds of safety. Respectful behaviour, both online and offline, is key,” Davies said.
“For schools and libraries, this can mean looking at reporting processes and implementing policies. For individuals, this is about being thoughtful and being responsible for positive action, both online and offline,” she said.
By using a whole-school approach, Davies explained it was possible for schools to help shift cultural change about online safety.
“Student wellbeing has always been a top priority for schools. Unfortunately, managing anti-social behaviours online is an ongoing occurrence for young people and schools are constantly needing to react to student incidents.
“Our eSmart range of prevention programs are designed to build confidence and resilience in behaviour and practice and to give young people the skills to navigate challenging situations and thrive in this complex world,” she said.