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Key takeaways from the 5th National Child Protection Forum

2 min read

Australia faces massive pressure to meet the growing demand for services within its child protection system. However, with the number of children needing these services rising, the lack of timely responses and resources leaves many kids vulnerable.   

According to experts, the system put in place cannot address the current needs of children; it is overwhelmed by the rising demand and needs urgent reform.   

The effects of COVID-19 on child protection are still evident. With child neglect often reported by schools, childcare centres, and people they contact daily, the pandemic has been instrumentally lowering opportunities for child neglect to be detected.   

During Third Sector’s 5th National Child Protection Forum, experts from across the nation gathered to discuss and tackle the issues of the child protection system being under pressure and how to support and empower children to have a voice in delivering child protection services. 

Through open conversations, forums, and workshops, attendees were provided with the right tools and strategies for implementing changes in the delivery of services.  

Among the speakers from the government, legal and justice systems, and community services were Holly-ann Martin OAM, Safe4Kids Managing Director; Leanne McLean, Tasmanian Commissioner for Children and Young People; and Jessy Renouf, a Queensland University of Technology student ambassador.  

Developing strategies and training  

Safe4Kids Managing Director Holly-ann Martin talked about developing training to help parents, teachers, and educators deliver child abuse prevention education. Martin also explored topics surrounding strategies that have protective education and body safety awareness.    

Her presentation on the rising rate of child abuse material and cybercrime resonated with many forum attendees.  

Youth participation in Policymaking  

Meanwhile, Tasmanian commissioner McLean stressed the importance of listening to children. She zeroed in on how to listen to their ideas and needs, which she maintained is the key to creating child-safe communities.  

“The importance of enabling the participation of children and young people as a key foundation to creating child-safe communities, policies, and practices has been truly on show,” said McLean.  

In the same vein, Jessy Renouf discussed the importance of youth voices being heard and the impact that voice can have on the development of young people. She spoke on the results that are giving young people an agent can have, mainly when they are provided genuine opportunities to engage in the development of policies.   

“We can’t solve youth problems without the inclusion of youth. You can’t talk about us without us!” stressed Renouf.     

Addressing the system’s issues does not imply that it has not been effective in protecting children; it just means that, given the current demand, reform is essential to ensure no child is left behind. However, with events like this forum that create a discourse that includes the voices of the youth, there is potential for implementing reforms that expedite the currently provided services. 

To know more about amplifying the voices of children in Australia’s child protection system, register now to be part of the 6th National Child Protection Forum.

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.


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