Bravehearts founder and CEO Hetty Johnston will lead an expert panel of child protection advocates at a public forum at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in Brisbane on May 5.
The seminar has been designed to provide general information and guidance on how to deal with concerns or disclosures of child sexual assault and the importance of creating child safe environments.
Ms Johnston said the community is being gripped by fear surrounding the safety of children following the sentencing of Daniel Morcombe’s killer Brett Cowan and high profile child sexual assault cases such as Hey Dad actor Robert Hughes.
“There is so much unnecessary fear out there at the moment and while we encourage parents to be vigilant when it comes to the safety of their children, we don’t want people jumping at shadows,” she says.
“The fact is that in 85 per cent of all child sexual assaults, the offender is known and trusted by the child. We must educate our children and empower all adults so they can respond appropriately should a child disclose that something has happened or is happening to them.”
“By increasing the general awareness of this crime and its prevalence in the Australian community, the ‘Don’t be Scared – Be Prepared’ public forum will enable people and organisations to play a crucial role in helping to protect the most vulnerable members of our community, while allaying the unhelpful fear factor associated with this sensitive issue,” she says.
Working in collaboration with criminologists, psychologists, education teams and the Queensland Police Child Protection Unit, Bravehearts has developed specialist training programs for a wide range of organisations, including Little Athletics Australia, Mission Australia, Centacare and child care franchises.
The four-hour public seminar will also include presentations by Bravehearts National Research Manager Carol Ronken and Queensland Police Detective Inspector Jon Rouse from Taskforce Argos.
Participants will learn about the complexity of child sexual assault; how to identify key responsibilities and obligations of various stakeholders; gain an understanding of the indicators of child sexual assault; better understand the complexity of disclosures; to recognise offender profiles and the grooming process; and to demonstrate an awareness of cyber safety.