Y NSW rolls out co-designed child safety model in acknowledgement of NCPW
As Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) professionals join the rest of the country in acknowledging National Child Protection Week (NCPW), held 6-12 September, the Y NSW have taken the innovative step of rolling out one of the first child safety models co-designed by children and young people.
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, and reflects a commitment by the provider, which operates 55 Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) services in New South Wales, to ensure that the children and young people in its care are safe.
“Stay Safe, Tell Someone” was developed by The Y Australia, the national arm of the YMCA, over the past year, with The Y’s Safeguarding Children and Young People National Executive, Phil Doorgachurn explaining the core premise of the program centres on encouraging 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.
Children and young people from 17 different locations across five States and Territories, including the remote communities Coolgardie, Leonora, Menzies and Williamstown in Western Australia, took part in the consultations, telling The Y that the best way for them to learn about safety, and raise concerns, is through “direct communication with a trusted adult and that we should keep information simple using images and words”.
With 2017 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse finding that, on average, it takes a survivor 23.9 years to disclose their abuse, Mr Doorgachurn said more needed to be done to empower children to speak up earlier.
“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, 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.
Susannah Le Bron, The Y NSW Chief Executive, expressed her pride in the program, adding that she was “really excited” to see the posters appear in OSHC sites and hearing the different conversations the program is sure to inspire with children, young people and the wider community.
The Y NSW initiative has the support of the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) with spokesperson Sammy Bruderer encouraging other organisations to follow suit.
“Children perceive and experience safety differently to adults,” she said.
“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.”
It seems fitting to give the final word to Katia, a seven year old Sydney resident, who said the poster sent clear messages about what to do in the event of an incident which made them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
“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.
“Stay Safe, Tell Someone” is targeted at four audiences : children aged up to six years, children aged between seven and eleven years, young people from the ages of 12-18, and adults.
For more information, please visit the Y NSW website, here.