Empowering communities to keep children safe

Posted on: 06 May 2021

Katherine West Health Board recently teamed up with Safe4Kids to deliver a series of child protection education sessions on community to keep children safe.

The Safe4Kids program teaches children to understand body safety and learn valuable strategies to protect themselves. The delivery of the program aims to improve the safety of children by:

  • educating school aged children in how to recognise and respond to inappropriate behaviours and abuse
  • educating parents and carers to recognise and reduce the risks of abuse and access to inappropriate materials
  • strengthening whole-of-community understanding about child abuse to identify risks and provide support to families.

The program covers:

  • child sexual abuse prevention education
  • negative impact of pornography
  • cybersex
  • cyberbullying
  • cyber payback
  • the importance of respectful relationships.

The program includes a series of resources, such as books and videos, to help introduce sensitive topics to conversations between adults and children.

Safe4Kids ran sessions for children and adults in the Katherine West communities over a three week period in March 2021. There are plans to run more sessions later in the year.

Holly-Ann Martin, the Managing Director of Safe4Kids, has taught the program in 70 Aboriginal communities across Australia.

“Safe4Kids takes a whole-of-community approach to ensure the success of our program in Aboriginal communities. We teach children protective behaviours at school, and then chat with teachers, carers, parents, community members, police, healthcare and other staff in the community to inform them about what the children are learning in our program,” Ms Martin said.

“The landscape has changed so much over the past ten years. Ten years ago we weren’t worried about kids as young as six years old with a phone and Tik Tok in their back pocket – whereas now all of them do. It’s really important to explain these dangers to adults.”

“We are also concerned that many young men in Australia turn to pornography for sex education. We need to be doing far more around sex education and talk to young people about what a healthy relationship and consent looks like.”

Sinon Cooney, Chief Executive Officer of Katherine West Health Board, said the program demonstrates the importance of everyone working together to improve health and wellbeing in the Katherine West region.

“Katherine West takes a holistic approach to health and we recognise that emotional wellbeing and safety of children is at the heart of our communities. The Safe4Kids program empowers the whole community to work together to keep children safe.”

The Safe4Kids program is funded through the National Indigenous Australians Agency Social and Emotional Wellbeing program. Katherine West Health Board’s Safe Communities and Safe Families team will continue to reinforce the program’s teaching in partnership with local schools.