Overarching message: ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go’
This year National Child Protection Week will continue to champion the message ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go’.
This message captures the essence of National Child Protection Week which aims to promote a safe and supported life for every child, now and into the future.
Many of our supporters may choose to continue to focus on this overarching message.
However, many of our partners tell us that they value having a fresh annual theme to focus their local conversations each year.
2023 theme: ‘Where we start matters’.
In 2023, the message that ‘Every child in every community needs a fair go’ will be complemented with the theme ‘Where we start matters’.
Where we start our lives in terms of where we live, the resources available to us, and the opportunities presented to us make a significant difference to our life outcomes.
Where we start as a service sector in offering children and their families support and assistance makes a significant difference to life outcomes.
Where we start as decision makers in addressing large complex policy problems such as child abuse and neglect, also has a significant personal, social and economic outcomes.
We invite you to use this theme to explore and talk about the many ways that ‘where we start matters’ for children, young people and their families.
Of course where we start isn’t where we finish.
The aim of Child Protection Week is to bring together partners to focus on addressing the significant harms being experienced by children in Australia. By working collectively to change the trajectory of these children and families, we can reduce the number of children who may come in contact with the child protection system. The time to act is now.
You can use this theme in ways that are most relevant to those you work with.
For instance this could include focusing on:
The Community Jigsaw that has been used during National Child Protection Week is based on research by Dr Sharon Bessell, Australian National University from the Children Communities and Social Capital Report.
During the research, a 9-year-old girl pointed out that “A community is like a puzzle, you need to have all the bits to make it work.”
This gave the researchers the idea to use the jigsaw as a way to graphically represent the elements that children identify as central to a positive community.
When all the pieces are in place, a community is strong and supportive of children. The more pieces that are removed, the less supportive the community is for children.
In some cases, so many pieces are missing that the jigsaw falls apart. At this point, communities have become dysfunctional places from children’s perspective.
The Community Jigsaw can also be an important tool for policymakers and practitioners. The key question is “how do we ensure as many pieces as possible are in place?”.
We need to ask how policies, services and interventions can reinforce pieces of the Community Jigsaw that are already in place and add those that are missing.
In reinforcing and adding pieces of the Community Jigsaw, it is crucial that those pieces that children consider to be in place and working well are not undermined. In some communities, the decision may be taken to focus on strengthening one piece of the Community Jigsaw because that piece is weak or missing. In doing so, it is important that decisions are based on knowledge of the local area, including – crucially – children’s knowledge.
In this representation of the Community Jigsaw, the edges are left unfinished. This shows that this research is not exhaustive or comprehensive, and the Community Jigsaw can be refined and extended based on future research with children.
Watch the video below to learn more about the Community Jigsaw image.