Workshop to com­bat child sex­ual as­sault

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS -

CHILD sex­ual as­sault may be a dif­fi­cult topic to dis­cuss but it is some­thing the com­mu­nity needs to face ac­cord­ing to coun­sel­lors from the Whit­sun­day Cri­sis and Coun­selling Ser­vice (WCCS).

WCCS coun­sel­lor Leah An­der­son said the or­gan­i­sa­tion saw on av­er­age 8-10 fam­i­lies per week who were af­fected by child sex­ual as­sault.

“This is­sue is in our com­mu­nity and there­fore needs a whole of com­mu­nity re­sponse,” she said.

With this in mind and through the sup­port of the Ro­tary Club of Air­lie Beach, WCCS has been suc­cess­ful in bring­ing two spe­cial­ist train­ing pro­grams to the area, cre­ated by na­tional child pro­tec­tion ad­vo­cates Brave­hearts.

The first pro­gram is a two-hour Sup­port­ing Hands: In­tro­duc­tion to Child Sex­ual As­sault workshop, de­signed to cre­ate change and em­power the com­mu­nity at large.

The workshop will be held on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 14, from 6-8pm at the Whit­sun­day Chris­tian Col­lege. It is free and open to all mem­bers of the com­mu­nity to at­tend. Brave­hearts founder and ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Hetty John­ston said ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion that worked with chil­dren had a duty of care and re­spon­si­bil­ity to pro­tect them.

“Sup­port­ing Hands pro­vides gen­eral in­for­ma­tion on child sex­ual as­sault, ad­dresses risk fac­tors and how to avoid them [as well as the is­sues of] what preda­tory be­hav­iour looks like, how to re­spond to dis­clo­sures, how to iden­tify in­di­ca­tors of harm in chil­dren and much more,” she said.

WCCS coun­sel­lor Mandy Coles said the workshop would be help­ful to any­one who came into con­tact with chil­dren.

“This pro­gram is to give the com­mu­nity the tools to be able to con­front the is­sue,” she said.

Air­lie Beach Ro­tar­ian Steve An­der­son said Ro­tary was able to fund the workshop through ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enue from its lo­cal phone guide.

“And in sim­ple terms it’s to sup­port our com­mu­nity. We’ve been told how preva­lent it [child sex­ual as­sault] is in the Whit­sun­days so this was seen as a much-needed ser­vice in our area,” he said.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact WCCS on 4946 2999.

SUP­PORT­ING HANDS: WCCS coun­sel­lors Leah An­der­son and Mandy Coles are en­cour­ag­ing mem­bers of the com­mu­nity to at­tend the Sup­port­ing Hands Workshop on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 14, de­signed to pro­vide the tools to com­bat child sex­ual as­sault.

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