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Sowing seeds of hope

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Building strong communities and keeping children safe was the focus of Child Protection Sunday celebrations held in parishes throughout the Archdiocese on September 9.

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Resources and information prepared by the Child Protection Unit were distributed to Mass goers on the day and included cards outlining the rights of children and prayer cards for adults. Each child was also given a packet of painted daisy seeds to plant.

As Child Protection Unit manager Sally Wellington explained, the painted daisy is a protective plant which keeps other plants safe from insects and the seeds provided a symbolic reminder of the importance of adults and communities working together to protect children and young people.

Figures provided by child protection advocate Bravehearts reveal that every 90 minutes a child is sexually assaulted in Australia, totalling 58,000 children each year. One in five children will be sexually harmed before their 18th birthday, with a majority of child sexual assault crimes perpetrated by persons known to the child.

As part of National Child Protection Week activities, Bravehearts launched a free Personal Safety Parents’ Guide to help Australian parents better protect their children. The guide gives parents and carers an insight into the myths and facts about child sexual assault and valuable guidance on personal safety education for their children, including online.

Hetty Johnston AM, founder and executive chair of Bravehearts said there was nothing more important than protecting children.

“All Australians need to understand that child sexual assault is a crime that can potentially affect any family regardless of race, religion, gender and economic status – it doesn’t discriminate.

“One of the most important things we can do is to empower our children to identify when something doesn’t feel right, and to talk to and tell a trusted adult without fear of consequences,” she said.

Centacare Catholic Family Services launched its Child Protection Week activities on September 3, with the focus being to ‘celebrate our children’.

As Centacare assistant director Pauline Connelly explained, the week was a time to remember the way we can “grow, nurture and protect the beautiful children that are in our care”.

The Personal Safety Parents’ Guide can be downloaded at https://bravehearts.org.au/personalsafety

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