Celebrating National Child Protection Week across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

National Child Protection Week is a campaign held annually across Australia to raise awareness of child abuse prevention. The campaign aims to engage, educate, and empower Australians to understand the complexity of child abuse and neglect, and work together to prevent it. It does this through the sharing of events and resources to encourage communities to engage in conversations around children’s safety and wellbeing.

This year’s theme is:

Every child, in every community, needs a fair go.

To treat all of Australia’s children fairly, we need to make sure every family and community has what kids need to thrive  be healthy.

As a diocese, our goal when it comes to child protection is to always recognise and uphold the dignity and rights of all children and vulnerable adults, in-line with the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s abiding commitment to their safety, welfare, and wellbeing.

To support this goal in 2021, we launched a number of initiatives across our Catholic schools, St Nicholas Early Education and OOSH services, Parishes, and CatholicCare communities, all with the intention of improving child safety across our Diocese.

In our primary schools and OOSH services, we asked students to consider who their safety network is; that is, five trusted adults they can talk to about anything who will always listen. By writing the names of their safety network on a cut-out hand and working with their peers to create a ‘wall of hands’ in their school foyer (or at home given the current home learning conditions), we’re encouraging our young people to think about who they can trust and open the conversation about what it means to feel safe and secure. These displays are available to view in the gallery at the foot of this page.

We invited students in our secondary schools to design a piece of art that represents what it means to feel safe and secure. The top five entries will be featured across Aurora Magazine and Diocesan social media channels. The aim with this experience was to foster our students’ understandings of the importance of child protection and to open the conversation about what it means to feel safe and secure. The winning entries are available to view in the gallery at the foot of this page.

The winners of this competition are:

  • Sophie Jordan, All Saints' College, Maitland
  • Sarah Hannaway, All Saints' College, Maitland
  • Isabell Kelly, All Saints' College, Maitland
  • Tyla Grace Pirlo, St Pius X High School, Adamstown
  • Jessica Love, All Saints' College, Maitland
  • Lucy Mexon, All Saints' College, Maitland
  • Isobel Frize, All Saints' College, Maitland

In our St Nicholas Early Education centres, we encouraged our teams and families to get involved using the information and resources provided in the ‘Child Empowerment Program’, developed by St Nicholas’ Lochinvar Centre Director, Georgina Oakenfull. The aim of the Child Empowerment Program is to empower children with the skills and knowledge for them to help keep themselves safe.

We would like to take this opportunity to encourage you to visit officeofsafeguarding.org.au/national-child-protection-week and use the resources available to support your children to stay safe. Make your influence positive; start a conversation today with your colleagues, families, and friends about listening to and valuing the voice of children and young people.

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