LETTER: We are yet to see the new vulnerable from COVID-19
SINCE 1986 we have been acknowledging Child Protection Week in Queensland.
This year we ask you to reflect on the challenges that COVID-19 has presented to children and young people experiencing vulnerability.
We know that schools have done an amazing job in identifying students experiencing vulnerability and keeping the doors open for them to attend school during the height of COVID-19 in Queensland.
It is the new vulnerable that perhaps we are yet to see, who create a strong call to action for us as community members. Who are the new vulnerable?
They are the children that didn’t have access to learning while in lockdown, were living with adults who themselves may not have been coping and still may not be.
They are the children who sit on the edge of being safe or not, based on things like whether there is money coming in or how stressed their primary carer is.
Having access to external protective environments like sporting and social activities or connecting with supportive extended family and importantly having a safe adult to share any worries or concerns with.
Over the last few months services like Kids Helpline have reported an increase in the amount of calls they are receiving. Of concern is the increase in the types of issues children are wanting help with. Things like the effects of mental health issues, child abuse, self-harm and suicidality.
We call on you to make sure you are looking, listening and asking children and young people if they are ok. The impacts of COVID-19 will be with us for some time. Although our governments have a role to play, as a community we can step up and play a role in protecting all children and young people.
Child protection week runs from 6 - 12 September, to find events in your area visit www.childprotectionweek.org.au
Sara Evans, Queensland Child Protection Week Chairperson