Media Release by The Hon Sussan Ley MP

Australians urged to make communities child friendly

All Australians should take steps to make their communities child friendly in order to reduce and ultimately prevent child abuse and neglect, the Parliamentary Secretary for Children and Youth Affairs, the Hon Sussan Ley, said today.

Launching National Child Protection Week 2005, Mrs Ley said: “In Australia a child is abused every 13 minutes, according to the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN), which is a situation that cannot be tolerated.

“The theme of National Child Protection Week this year is Child Friendly Communities Prevent Abuse and Neglect of Children and I would urge all Australians to think about what they can do to make their own communities a better and safer place for children,” Mrs Ley said.

“Fundraisers, picnics and family fun days have been organised throughout Australia to mark National Child Protection Week but this is an issue we all need to be thinking about everyday.

“A ‘whole of community’ approach can greatly help in creating child safe environments and avoid circumstances, which may lead to child abuse and neglect.

“For example, people can help to ease the financial burden on some families by passing on clothing, books and toys for their children and they can stop families becoming isolated by inviting them to social events, or by offering them friendship and a helping hand.

“People can also make the effort to connect with children, even simply by saying “hello”, listening to them and inviting them to social events.

“While the constitutional responsibility for the care and protection of children rests with the States and Territories, the Australian Government promotes best practice nationally in child abuse prevention and spends more than $5 million on early intervention projects and programmes.

“Whole of community involvement in the care, nurturing and growth of children from an early age is also the keystone of the Australian Government’s $490 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy and its development of a National Agenda for Early Childhood with all State and Territory governments.

“The National Agenda will have a strong prevention and early intervention focus as part of its overarching national policy framework which will maximise the benefits of existing and future programmes to promote the optimal development of young children.”