Families the focus in Child Protection Week

The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network has given its support to Child Protection Week as the importance of ‘child development’ is recognised.

Running from 1-7 September, Child Protection Week is an initiative of the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN).

The Network has Child Protection Units (CPU) across both hospitals. These multi-disciplinary teams consist of social workers, doctors and occupational therapists, and provide assessments for children and young people (up to the age of 16) where there are concerns raised regarding suspected physical abuses, sexual abuse and neglect. Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick also has a Child Protection Counselling Service (CPCS) that sits alongside the inpatient CPU team (co-located in the CPU) and provide medium to long term therapy to parents/carers and their children when children have had experiences of trauma, neglect, abuse and exposure to domestic violence.

“All children and young people have the right to protection from all forms of violence, abuse and neglect. Children are the most vulnerable members of our community and all too often their voices are not heard,” said Caroline Knight, Senior Social Worker at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

“Children need adults around them, including parents, family, friends, teachers, health professionals, coaches, community mentors and leaders to recognise child protection concerns and to know how to respond appropriately,” said Calli Goninan, Senior Social Worker at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

The theme for this year is ‘child development’, both the idea that children do well when their parents are supported; and that to raise thriving kids, parents need support to navigate life’s ups and downs.

“Children do better when they are understood and provided interventions in the context of their relationship with their parents,” says Kelly Morrison, Coordinator for the Child Protection Counselling Service at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

“A positive and nurturing relationship between a child and their parent, supports a child’s brain development and emotional stability needed for learning, socialising and future positive relationships as they grow. The greatest indicator of a child’s future health and stability is their relationship with their parent.”

Warnings signs

Our Child Protection Units offer the following advice if you suspect a child is exposed to harmful behaviour: 

  • Listen to the child/young person and what they are saying
  • Look out for concerning behaviours (ie. mental health concerns, sexualised play, aggressive play, drug and alcohol usage)
  • Talk to someone about your concerns, this could be:
    - The Child Protection Helpline 132 111
    - The Child Protection Unit (Westmead 9845 0000 or Randwick 9382 1111)
    - For immediate concerns contact the Police 000
  • Let the child/young person know that you believe them and that you will speak to somebody to request some help to keep them safe

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