MEET the team helping keep our kids safe.
National Child Protection Week has shone a light on the work various agencies and our communities do to look after our young people.
Parkerville’s George Jones Child Advocacy Centre in Armadale helps children throughout the southeast metropolitan corridor who have experienced trauma from abuse, supports families, and works with the community to prevent future issues.
Therapeutic services director and clinical psychologist Amanda Paton said it was vital children know they have the right to feel safe.
“A lot of our kids don’t feel safe, they don’t experience safety, so it’s a foreign thought to them that they could have the right to feel safe. But as adults, we’re the ones who need to instil that in them. You should feel safe in your own home, your own school and your own community,” Ms Paton said.
“It’s ok to want to be safe and take action around that.”
Last year alone, the team worked with over 6000 children in the Armadale area, providing early intervention programs and school-based support, to secondary services working with families at risk, and tertiary services targeting families impacted by abuse.
Ms Paton said a holistic response from the centre was key, working not just with individuals but the families around them and preventing issues from occurring in the first place.
“For an organisation like Parkerville, we’ve been around for 114 years, and we’ve been targeting the Armadale area for over 10 years. We can’t do everything, and you need to be a part of the community and link in with other organisations. One organisation can’t do it all, just like one family can’t do it all by themselves,” she said.
Ms Paton said it was key that everyone watches out for the children around them.
“It’s about everyone in the community taking responsibility for kids, supporting those kids. Everyone needs to play their part in supporting one another. It’s the old adage of it takes a village to raise a child,” she said.
“Say hi to your neighbours. If you’re living next door to someone and you’re a bit concerned about the kids, or you’re a bit concerned about the parents, or you hear some loud noises or violence at night time, next time you see them out the front of their house, say hi. Ask how they are, build up those relationships and connections.”
Child Protection and Prevention of Family and Domestic Violence Minister Simone McGurk said families and communities working together was one of the best ways to prevent child abuse and neglect.
“Children are our most precious resource, and it is up to all of us to make sure every child grows up in a safe and connected community with access to the support they need to reach their full potential,” Ms McGurk said.
If you’re concerned about the wellbeing of children near you, Ms Paton suggests talking to the local school or police or visiting a website like napcan.org.au to find out what steps to take.