8 September 2023

Child protection lives in our hearts and minds every day.

Image: Claire Robbs, CE Life Without Barriers, speaking at the SNAICC'23 Conference in Darwin.

As National Child Protection Week 2023 comes to a close, we reflect on what we as a large organisation can do to continue to promote the protection of children every day - and how we can work to Close The Gap.

Child Protection Week is an opportunity to engage, educate and empower communities across Australia to understand the complexity of child abuse and neglect and work together to prevent it.

Here are some of the events we attended this year to lean into the discussion with partners in this space.

Image: Claire Robbs speaking at the SNAICC'23 Conference in Darwin. There are tables of people in front of her and the Aboriginal flag on the left and Torres Strait Islander flag on the right.

Claire Robbs, Chief Executive of Life Without Barriers, attended SNAICC’23 – the 10th SNAICC National Conference and spoke about the role of the Child Protection system in supporting Reconciliation. 

“Now is the time to be on the right side of history. Not only in voting for recognition and consultation at the Referendum, but also in the decisions we take to preserve the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children to grow in culture and with belonging." Claire Said.

"For decades, we have built systems in child protection across this country without First Nations people."

"We have been complicit, and it is now the time for restoration and justice.”

Image: Adele Cox from SNAICC, Kate Delany from Reconciliation Australia and Jane French from Life Without Barriers at the conference.

Jane French, Deputy Chief Executive - Child, Youth and Family, also attended and spoke at the SNAICC’23 conference.

She took to the stage with Adele Cox from SNAICC and Kate Delany from Reconciliation Australia and spoke about the SNAICC partnership with Life Without Barriers to transform the out-of-home care system and return Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people to the care of Community.

Image: Rob Ryan, Acting Deputy CEO, Life Without Barriers and NAPCAN Board member, His Excellency David Hurley standing together in suits looking at the camera.

Rob Ryan, Acting Deputy CEO Life Without Barriers, and NAPCAN Board member attended the official launch of Child Protection Week held at Admiralty House. The Governor General His Excellency David Hurley, NAPCAN CEO Leesa Waters and Oliver White Chair of the NAPCAN Youth Advisory Council gave a joint speech.

The keynote address was given by Professor Ben Mathews, QUT the lead investigator in the groundbreaking Australian Childhood Maltreatment Study (ACMS). Sobering statistics from the study of more than 8500 people included that 6 out of 10 Australians have experienced abuse as a child.

"NAPCAN and partners called upon the Government to commit to a national summit to bring together all stakeholders in one room, at one time, to create a consensus around what needs to be done – urgently – to prevent harm to children. A call we must all answer." Said Rob.

“It was sobering to hear the statistics quoted by Professor Ben Mathews, but what sticks out amongst the data and his words is that 'child maltreatment is preventable'."

"We have evidence to show that investment in strengthening families helps build communities, prevents harm and creates a stronger future for children and young people." Said Rob.

"Thanks to NAPCAN for hosting a range of events this week and to the amazing speakers, dedicated staff, carers and volunteers who work in the child protection sector to ensure every child in every community (has) a fair go.”

Image: Lin Hatfield-Dodds, CEO The Benevolent Society, Natalie Siegel-Brown, Commissioner, Productivity Commission, Rani Kumar, Deputy CEO NAPCAN, Katrina Lines, CEO Act for Kids, Professor Ben Mathews, QUT standing outside with the Sydney Opera House behind them.

Child Protection Week has been coordinated by NAPCAN for over 30 years and the aim of Child Protection Week is to bring together partners in the sector to address the significant harms being experienced by vulnerable children and their families. In 2023, the message that ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go’ is complemented with the theme ‘Where we start matters’ and the key message provided by CEO Leesa Waters was based on the findings from the recent Australian Childhood Maltreatment (ACMS) study.

“We can’t afford NOT to act.”

Related Stories