National Child Protection Week is the perfect time to reflect on safety and wellbeing of all children and young people. When I reflect on the past year, this year’s theme that ‘every child in every community, needs a fair go’ couldn’t be truer. The Pandemic has meant that children and young people have missed out on their key social, physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual development.
For many children and young people across Australia, they have spent many days away from their friends, missing out on ‘schoolies’ as a general passage into adulthood, or just hanging out with their friends in the park. With sports and recreation activities being closed or suspended, children and young people have not been able to maintain their own health and wellbeing and develop their essential motor skills, more worryingly, with a number of children and young people missing essential swim lessons we predict that more children and young people will be a risk of drowning this summer.
Emotionally, we know that children and young people are fighting the mental health effects of this pandemic with some even taking their own lives. Intellectually – many have missed schooling time, key learning for their own lives and the harder reality of gaining employment. Spiritually, religious places of worship and key spiritual events like Diwali and Ramadan were affected for many of our children and young people.
Even without the pandemic, our Indigenous children and young people incarceration rates and in out of home care rates (1 in 6) are completely disproportionate, 1 in 32 children and young people in Australia receive child protection services, refugee children and young people escaping Afghanistan and other conflict zones will have witnessed more than anyone should ever see at their age, children and young people witnessing family violence at higher rates than ever before and children and young people from remote areas having poor internet access affecting their own development in the technological world we live in. Children and young people living with disabilities are 5 times more likely to suffer abuse, children and young people who identify as LGBTIQ+ are at increased risk of homelessness and suicide, children and young people in out of home care are more susceptible to exploitation
Every child and young person in every community, needs and deserves a fair go. At the Y, we have a bold safeguarding vision to empower all children and young people to feel safe and be safe at the Y, in their families and in their communities. Although our day-to-day work may not require us to work with children or young people, each, and every one of us has a role to play in ensuring every child and young person gets a fair go. When you go to the shops, you could just be that person who ‘sees’ that child or young person, when at work that policy you are writing could just give that child or young person a better chance at being who they want to be, it may just be giving that child or young person time for a chat, a smile or even a safe space where they feel they belong. In each moment of every day, the small things we do can impact the lives of children and young people.
This Child Protection Week, what will you do to ensure every child and young person in every community gets a fair go?
Thank you for everything you have done for children and young people so far but let this National Child Protection Week re-energise us to ensure every child and young person in every community, gets a fair go.
-Phil Doorgachurn, Y Safeguarding National Executive