National Child Protection Week, 1–7 September
This year for Child Protection Week we are able to share not just what’s going on, but also why it’s being communicated the way it is. If you’ve wondered why lighthouses feature so prominently in the Week’s promotional campaign, read on!
The 2019 National Child Protection Week (often called NAPCAN Week for the organisation behind it) draws on some of the premium parent communication research released last December by the Parenting Research Centre and Frameworks Institute.
Amplify readers may remember this article on the release of the research, accompanied by a this toolkit that you are invited to use in any setting. All together, it’s an excellent public resource that is being used cleverly by NAPCAN, one of our most important children’s advocacy organisations.
CELA’s one day session, Identify and Respond to Children and Young People at Risk. Includes a lasting resource for all participants. The rigour of the content reflects the importance of the subject and our facilitators are second to none!
Be kind to parents
“Children do best when life is on an even keel and their parents have the support they need,” says NAPCAN, introducing the concept behind this year’s National Child Protection Week from 1-7 September.
“By being kind to parents, supporting family-friendly policies, and building connected communities, we’re all helping to give Australia’s children the best start in life.
“National Child Protection Week is all about celebrating the many ways – big and small – that everyone in the community can make a difference in the life of a child.”
The Navigating Waters metaphor
The NAPCAN theme draws on the recommended ‘Navigating Waters’ metaphor from the Parenting Research Centre’s report, to get across the idea that families are trying hard and sometimes need help.
The Navigating Waters metaphor was found to bridge the gap between ‘parenting experts’ and parents, who tend to dismiss messages about parenting skills as ‘intrusive, inappropriate, or an example of science going into territory where it does not belong’.
With many families considering child protection topics highly sensitive, it makes good sense to use proven methods to bridge that gap.
The lighthouse analogy
And so, goes the NAPCAN statement:
“Most importantly, we need to recognise that parenting is like sailing a boat; it takes skill and practice, anyone can encounter rough waters from time to time, and we can all do our bit to help build the safe harbours and lighthouses that all families need.”
As an early childhood educator, director, policy maker or administrator, you may have many opportunities in a year when you can apply this analogy too. How is your service, or role, helping to create safe harbours and establish lighthouses for the families your work affects?
Below is an example of a ‘parent expert’ style of statement written before, and after, applying the Navigating Waters analogy:
Before: To support effective parenting, we need to help families dealing with problems like poverty and ill health. It is very hard for parents to give their children a good start in life when they are experiencing hardship and adversity. We need to provide the right support and we need to provide it early.
After: For healthy development, children need life to be on an even keel. But for families experiencing poverty and stress, raising children is like sailing in rough waters. Helping parents with counselling, quality child care and financial support makes sure that they have the lighthouses and safe harbours that they need to navigate these rough waters.
Are there sayings or written statements in your workplace that could benefit from this kind of makeover? Is there anything you see in this year’s National Child Protection Week material that you could apply to communication with families on other sensitive topics?
Key messages from NAPCAN
Make use of these messages – as they are or in your own words – if you have any opportunities to speak about child protection to local media, politicians or other policy influencers.
- To raise thriving children, Australian parents need support.
- Children thrive when parents have the support they need.
- For healthy development, children need life to be on an even keel. But for families experience poverty and stress, raising children is like sailing in rough waters. Helping parents with counselling, quality child care and financial support makes sure that they have the lighthouses and safe harbours that they need to navigate these rough waters.
- To develop in healthy and positive ways, children need life to be stable, even when families face rough times. Just as a strong skipper learns to be adaptable and to seek help when they need it, we can help parents to navigate life’s storms.
- Raising thriving healthy children is all-important and building young brains takes work. Parents need support to help children develop the skills they need.
- Raising thriving children is like building a house from the foundations up. When they interact with their children, parents are building brains. We need better policies to support parents to help children to learn and grow from the earliest days onwards.
- Australia’s children thrive when our policies and programs support parents. We need to help all children develop healthily, especially when families experience tough times.
Supporting Child Protection Week 2019
To get started, visit www.napcan.org.au. You’ll find lots of resources to help you:
- Pledge your support (and add your logo to the NAPCAN website)
- Download posters and tip sheets
- Organise information sessions for your staff
- Run activities for children
- Engage your local community
- List your events or find events to attend
- Share social media
- Attend an event (see below)
This year, Early Learning Matters Week crosses over with Child Protection Week. Early Learning Matters Week will be celebrated from 1-6 September and will include National Early Childhood Educators Day on Wednesday 4 September.
There is nothing to stop you from supporting both weeks and promoting child safety during Early Learning Matters Week. As you know, with so many important causes raising awareness through the year, it’s not possible to quarantine any one week or month for a single purpose.
The organisers of Early Learning Matters Week are also liaising with the coordinators of Child Protection Week at NAPCAN to collaborate as much as possible, which may make it easier for you to be engaged in both causes.
Read more about Early Learning Matters Week 2019 here.
Need help? Look at CELA’s Identify & Respond program, including a lasting resource for every participant.
About the author
Bec Lloyd is the founder and managing director of Bec & Call Communication, providing professional writing, editing and strategy services to the school and early childhood education sector since 2014. In 2018 she launched UnYucky mindset and menus for happier family mealtimes. Formerly the communications lead at ACECQA and BOS (now NESA), Bec is a journo and mother of three who produces Amplify for us at Community Early Learning Australia.