Spotlight on child safety

Catholic schools under the Diocese of Sale will reinforce the message of putting children first to teachers, parents and students. Picture: SUPPLIED

A number of schools across the Cardinia Shire will reinforce the importance of child safety as part of the National Child Protection Week.

Under this year’s theme – ‘putting children first’ – school communities are encouraged to look at how they can prioritise children and their lives.

Child Protection Minister Luke Donnellan said families had been under immense stress learning to cope with the impacts of coronavirus.

“It’s more important than ever that everyone in the community plays their part to keep our child safe,” Mr Donnellan said.

“Supporting children at risk and working to ensure their safety and wellbeing is one of the biggest challenges in our community.”

The week will also provide a timely opportunity to reiterate the importance of online safety, especially given all Cardinia Shire students are learning online from home.

Catholic schools under the Diocese of Sale will reinforce the message to teachers, parents and students, Catholic Education director Maria Kirkwood said.

“Our aim is to keep our students safe, regardless of where they are learning,” Ms Kirkwood said.

“We provide a range of resources and training for our staff, along with age-appropriate lessons for children about personal safety strategies.

“During National Child Protection Week, I encourage everyone to take a moment to learn more about child safety through free resources like the eSafety Commissioner’s website.”

The objective of the week is to raise the profile of all issues connected with child protection.

Ms Kirkwood said the theme of putting children first aligned strongly with the Diocese of Sale Catholic Education Ltd’s (DOSCEL) child safety commitment.

“We have experienced an incredibly fast shift towards remote schooling, which has created some challenges, but I’m very proud of the way our schools and families have adapted,” she said.

“We are constantly working to improve our practices and facilities to ensure that we create a safe and nurturing culture for all children and young people in Catholic schools.”

Beaconhills College head of wellbeing Yvonne Ashmore said the school community continued to challenge students to positively contribute to an environment of respect, compassion and integrity.

“In a time of increased online engagement and interaction it is important that families openly discuss cyber safety and online bullying,” Ms Ashmore said.

“Remember, young people struggle to manage bullying when it emerges and often feel too embarrassed or ashamed to tell anyone, nor are they able to identify predatory behaviours on online gaming sites.

“Open communication at home – such as awareness of sites that your adolescents access – is critically important to their safety. As the adults, we need to be aware and step in if problems emerge.”

National Child Protection Week runs from 6 to 12 September.