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Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Pilot program to protect young people

Federal Minister for Community Services, Larry Anthony, has announced $62,500 will go to the Choose with Care pilot program offering education and training for organisations dealing with child protection issues.

“We all have a responsibility to protect our young people and provide them with a safe environment at all times,” Mr Anthony said.

The Choose with Care program is being developed by ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), a coalition of agencies and individuals who were awarded the Australian Council for Overseas Aid Human Rights Award in 1999.

“The pilot program will help organisations develop effective recruitment and screening techniques, and provide helpful advice on how to manage child protection issues,” Mr Anthony said.

“It will encourage agencies to conduct risk assessments, understand their legal responsibilities/liabilities, promote child protection policies, develop codes of conduct, and create aware and friendly environments where children are listened to.”

In 1998, ECPAT and McKillop Family Services, a non-government welfare organisation in Victoria, jointly developed the Choose with Care guide in response to the need to deter sex offenders from gaining easy access to organisations who are responsible for children.

As a result of the development of the guide, ECPAT was invited this year by the international children’s development agency, Terres des hommes (TDH), to conduct Choose with Care training and workships in Bangladesh, Nepal and at the Prevention of Paedophile Activity In Organisations working Abroad Seminar in Switzerland.

“There is no other program of this kind in Australia,” Mr Anthony said. “It is a practical step towards helping organisations working with children to carefully recruit and screen potential employees and volunteers.”

The Choose with Care initiative will be jointly funded by the Commonwealth Department of Family and Community Services and the Victorian Department of Community Services.