This week, 2-8 September, is National Child Protection Week (NCPW) and for the second year in a row, hundreds of white balloons will be displayed across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s 55 Catholic schools, Sacred Heart Cathedral and Cathedral House Newcastle West on Thursday.
The white balloon signifies the importance of encouraging survivors to break their silence and aims to raise awareness about child sexual assault. It’s a symbol originally chosen by Bravehearts Inc which hosts White Balloon Day each year during NCPW.
Bravehearts founder and executive director, Hetty Johnston, has written exclusively for this month’s Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle magazine, Aurora.
In her article, Hetty tells of her own family’s experience to help encourage people to come forward and break the silence. "One survivor disclosure today could save another child from having to endure a similar fate tomorrow," she said. Read Hetty's powerful story in the Aurora section.
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has an absolute and abiding commitment to promote the safety, welfare and well being of children.
Manager of Zimmerman Services, including the Child Protection Unit, Sean Tynan, said the diocese is committed to raising awareness about child protection.
“The diocese has actively shown its support of the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry and will be firmly committed to assisting the work of the national Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
“The diocese will display white balloons again this year and will continue, not just this week but all year round, to raise awareness, engage and educate all people, especially in our diocese, to understand they have a part to play in keeping our children and young people safe from abuse,” Mr Tynan said.
Read a media release about the diocese's participation in National Child Protection Week.