It’s been almost two years since COVID-19 hit Australian shores and with Child Protection Week (5 – 11th Sept) launching today we stand beside our sector leaders calling for urgent and collaborative action to improve child protection systems across Australia to better deal with the devastating impacts the pandemic and lockdowns have had on at-risk children.
Families, young people and children have been hit hard by the pandemic. Many families and young people are now socially and financially devastated due to ongoing lockdowns and we know through our programs that those in our community ALREADY experiencing disadvantage have disproportionately borne the brunt of the pandemic’s impact.
This year’s Child Protection Week is about fairness. Every child, in every community, needs a fair go. In Victoria we see families, young people and marginalised communities who don’t have enough work to subsist. With reports on incidents of domestic violence trending higher, the number of Victorian children entering the out-of-home care system is also increasing.
Australian Association Social Workers CEO Cindy Smith said, “The pandemic has laid bare how much our child protection system fails children, exacerbating decades-long issues relating to resourcing, supports and workforce regulation.
“COVID has increased several risk factors for child abuse and neglect, including financial hardship, housing stress, and poor mental health. Families are struggling and relying on limited services, which were already overwhelmed even before the pandemic.
“While lockdowns certainly have a place and have even helped some families come together, for children who experience abuse, this has meant they are confined with perpetrators and isolated from their usual protective factors, including friends, extended family and school.
“With half of the country in lockdowns and some regions having had over 200 days of lockdowns, we are deeply concerned about the welfare of children.”
It’s a crucial point of non-return and it’s time for all of us to act. Keeping children and young people safe is a top priority at Concern Australia.
Recent studies demonstrate that severe adversity that exists over long periods of time in a person’s life can send the body’s stress systems into permanent high alert, flooding the body’s vital organs and the brain with stress hormones. This can lead to future adult health problems like heart disease and diabetes.
At Concern Australia we encounter many of these young people at different stages of their life journey through our Inside Out and Hand Brake Turn programs and Steps Outreach Service. The impact of abuse and neglect on their lives is enormous, and the support that Concern Australia and other similar organisations provide is crucial.
Providing a robust system of support for communities and families has tremendous power to build and strengthen the important relationships between children and caring adults. A healthy Child Protection system would ensure projects and like-minded organisations such as ours are supported and policies advocating for a balanced and fair environment for children and young people to thrive are implemented.
Concern Australia CEO Michelle Crawford said we need to redouble our efforts to protect children in these challenging times.
“In our programs supporting young people, we see the long-term impact of family situations that are unsafe or, sadly, abusive. We are committed to providing safety and support to these vulnerable young people as they process the effects of their experiences and build for the future. At Concern Australia we are proud of our commitment to child safety, wellbeing and inclusion, reflected in the incredible work carried out by our Inside Out team, supporting young people in the out-of-home care system. Inside Out’s youth workers and Live-in-mentors partner with young partner with young people on their path to adulthood and create opportunities for them to live meaningful and fulfilling lives.
It is time to be part of the change, to support future generations and to treat all Australian children fairly. We call on State and Federal Governments to do more to ensure that the charity sector will be given the resources and policy innovation to ensure more vulnerable children and young people do not fall through the cracks.
WE INVITE YOU TO JOIN US
Here’s some of the actions that you can take:
Support our work with young people in the Child Protection system clicking here
Every step you take to close the gap and help young people will secure the future of so many lives. You will provide hope for someone who thought they were alone in this world, your contribution really does make a difference. Donate