Speech by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Launch of NAPCAN Community Engagement Strategy and National Survey

Location: Canberra

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It is a great pleasure to be here in National Child Protection week to launch NAPCAN’s community engagement strategy and national survey.

I want to thank Maree Faulkner and NAPCAN for their continuing work on increasing awareness of child abuse and neglect.

Recognising NAPCAN’s vital role, we are providing $300,000 to continue our support for NAPCAN to deliver National Child Protection Week.

This funding will further help support the number of events and activities being hosted across the country, including breakfasts, like the one today, and family fun days.

Another key partner in our efforts to increase awareness of child abuse and neglect is the Australian Institute of Family Studies.

Again, I’d like to thank the Institute’s director, Professor Alan Hayes.

All of us are here because we believe that keeping our children safe is a national responsibility and a national priority.

It’s also our responsibility to keep child protection at the centre of public discussion.

Which is why National Child Protection Week is so important.

With the theme -‘Help Bring Child Abuse Out in the Open’ – it aims to raise public awareness of the disturbing truth.

It places, squarely in the public arena, the stark fact that child abuse happens and that it’s on the rise.

In 2007-08, there were 55,120 substantiated reports of child abuse and neglect in Australia.

We must always remember that these are not merely numbers in a report.

They are small children – denied the safety and support that is their most basic human right.

For many, the terrible betrayal of trust, the hurt and the fear is never lost.

For many, the burden is carried every day of their lives.

For this reason our objectives are twofold.

First we must do everything in our power to prevent abuse and neglect.

Second we must support survivors.

This is a shared responsibility.

It’s the responsibility of governments to provide essential support structures and services.

But it goes further than that.

It requires all Australians to acknowledge that child abuse and neglect happens.

We need to continue to develop new ways of increasing community awareness.

This is why the Australian Government has invested a further $175,000 towards NAPCAN’s Community Engagement Strategy and National Survey.

This National Survey will be one of the largest attitudinal surveys ever undertaken in Australia.

It’s been developed by some of Australia’s leading child protection researchers and will collect and collate information on community attitudes, perceptions and understanding about child abuse and neglect.

The online survey has been designed to do three key things:

  • to provide the substantial evidence base that’s essential for developing successful strategies to prevent child abuse and neglect;
  • to get the whole community thinking and talking about the problem that is so often hidden behind closed doors; and
  • to provide information about services and supports available to protect children.

It will help us understand why child abuse is often hidden – whether it’s through fear, ignorance, denial or indifference.

I hope the survey will get every person who completes it, thinking about what they can do to protect children. Because protecting children is everyone’s business.

The survey is a key action under the Government’s National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children.

As you know, the Framework harnesses an unprecedented level of cooperation and commitment between all levels of government and non-government organisations.

It is central to the Government’s child-centred approach to family policy.

And in line with the Government’s evidence-based approach, we will be tracking the progress and effectiveness of the Framework and reporting on what has been achieved.

NAPCAN has already played a critical role in the establishment of the Framework.

Working with government and others in the sector to shape the strategies and priorities, particularly in prevention.

And critically, raising awareness about child abuse and neglect in the broader community.

There is much governments can do to give our children safe, happy and healthy childhoods.

But as we all know, to effectively protect Australia’s children we need everyone’s support.

And that means encouraging open, ongoing discussion.

Through the national survey, we have the opportunity to collect solid evidence on the current level of awareness of abuse and neglect.

And prevailing attitudes.

I look forward to seeing the survey findings following Children’s Week in November this year.

And I look forward to continuing to work with you in the national effort to protect Australia’s children.

Thank you