Hundreds of white balloons will be displayed across the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's 56 Catholic schools, its central offices on Hunter Street, Newcastle West and Sacred Heart Cathedral this Thursday and Friday, as part of 2015 National Child Protection Week (NCPW) 6-12 September. Balloons will also be displayed over the weekend at various churches during Mass.
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.
NCPW invites all Australians to play their part to promote the safety and wellbeing of children and young people. Now in its 25th year, it continues to be one of the most significant events on Australia's child protection calendar and is an opportunity to discuss and raise awareness about preventative strategies for child protection.
The Diocese's commitment to promoting NCPW and celebrating White Balloon Day comes from the staff and parishioners of the Diocese, supported by the committed leadership of Bill Wright, Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle.
Manager of Zimmerman Services, Sean Tynan, said that Bishop Bill Wright has consistently championed the importance of the diocese being open about past failures in protecting children and promoting the awareness that protecting children is everyone's business. The support of diocesan, CatholicCare and Catholic Schools Office leaders to encourage staff, students and clergy to participate in NCPW by displaying white balloons is a testament to this.
"For the fourth year running, the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle will display the balloons as a sign of commitment to furthering the mission of NCPW; to raise awareness, engage and educate all Diocesan parishioners and staff to understand they have a part to play in keeping our children safe from abuse.
National Child Protection Week is an opportunity to raise awareness of diocesan initiatives, including Zimmerman Services, which provides specialist child protection support to prevent and investigate abuse for the whole Diocese as well as offering ongoing personalised healing and support services for survivors of historic abuse," Mr Tynan said.
One such initiative is the Australian Survey for Kids and Young People
(ASK-YP) – a national survey being conducted by researchers from the Institute of Child Protection Studies, of people aged 15-18, about their views on children and young people's perceptions and understanding of safety in institutional contexts. The survey has been commissioned by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and focuses on what makes children feel safe in institutions.
The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has encouraged broad participation in the survey through its social media platforms, its monthly print publication Aurora magazine, its weekly e-newsletter Diocese Update, and its websites mnnews.today and mn.catholic.org.au.
Visit NCPW for more information
Visit the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle's Child Protection Unit
Visit the Australian Survey for Kids and Young People (ASK-YP)
WHAT: Display of white balloons for National Child Protection Week
WHO: Manager of Zimmerman Services, Sean Tynan and Diocesan Leadership Team
WHERE: Cathedral House, 841 Hunter Street Newcastle West
WHEN: 10.30am, Thursday 10 September 2015
For photos at schools, please call to find out whether the school you want to photograph will display its balloons on Thursday or Friday.