Big Love Light
The Australian Childhood Foundation's Patron, Chris Hemsworth, today announced a major community event and movement for children - the Big Love Light - at twilight on 28 October 2017 at Birrarung Marr in Melbourne. The Big Love Light will shine a light on the power of loving relationships in the lives of all children.
The Australian Childhood Foundation was started over 30 years ago by a small but passionate group of professionals and community advocates who saw major problems in child protection. The counsellors, educators and professional advocates at the Foundation are united in ensuring children hurt by abuse, neglect and family violence are helped to heal.
Children are still being hurt every day. Every week in Australia, 3118 children are involved with child protection services to investigate child abuse, neglect and family violence and/or ensure their protection. In the past 5 years, this number has increased by 20% nationally.
Chris Hemsworth, Patron of the Australian Childhood Foundation said "Love. It's just a small word and it's been misunderstood, trivialized, misused and ignored for too long. It also has power like nothing else in our lives and we need it now more than ever. And those who need it most are our children.
We know that loving relationships are critical to healthy development. All children need and deserve love.
It's also time to celebrate love as the central force in our defence of children. Every time we stand up for children, that's love in action. We're just extending the love we have for own children, the children in our lives, to embrace all children everywhere.
It's time to reclaim that small word, to give it the recognition it deserves. It's time to bring love back into the conversation"
Love for a child is everything. It shows them how to trust. It helps them to feel protected. It is how they learn about themselves and their childhood. It's how they develop and grow.
Abuse, neglect and family violence corrupt love. It is replaced with fear, confusion and pain. Without the warmth and certainty of love, abused children often give up on relationships. They hide. They despair. They do not connect. They can reject those who try to reach out to them. Their very spirit is crushed. They often behave in ways that can be challenging for those around them to understand. They feel threat inside them all the time.
The Foundation refuses to give up on abused children no matter what and are committed to defending their right to a loved and safe childhood. The act of offering love to abused children is a way to stand against the darkness of the trauma of abuse and violence that has overwhelmed their little lives. Love means the world to abused children. The right kind of love is a warm light that embraces abused children and gently shows them how to live without fear and danger connecting them again gradually to protective relationships that heal them over time.
So many children are reported multiple times to child protection services because their friends, family, teachers, doctors and other professionals keep being worried about their safety. 73% of children who were involved with child protection last year had been involved with child protection at least once before.
The younger the children are the more likely they are to need protection. Children under the age of one year are the most likely age group to be abused and/or neglected.
Across Australia, last year, 15% of children who were proven to have been abused had been physically abused, 11% had been sexually abused, 45% had been emotionally or psychologically abused and 25% had been neglected. Of course, most children had experienced more than one type of violation at the same time.
More children than ever before are forced to live away from their own home in order to keep them protected from abuse and violation. Tonight, more than 46 000 children will not be able to sleep in their own beds for fear of their safety. Nationally, 67% of children in out of home care had been in 'long term care", that is they had been looked after by someone other than their parents in order to keep them safe for 2 years or more.
Many of the young people that commit crimes in the community are also involved in the child protection system. The latest figures show that 32.4% of young people under youth justice supervision were also in the child protection system. Two out of every 5 young people in youth detention were involved in the child protection system in the same year.
Without specialist help and protection, the experience of abuse can become the starting point for a lifetime of struggle, confusion, conflict and breakdown. It can lead to depression, drug and alcohol addiction, violence, crime, mental illness and youth and adult suicide.
Today, as a national organisation with 32 community partnerships, the Foundation's focus has not wavered. Refusing to give up on children, the Foundation is committed to helping the community to defend childhood and children and ensure they feel loved and safe. Love is the force that drives our vision. We work to ensure all children hurt by abuse recover, and we defend childhood and children so they never suffer the trauma of abuse, neglect and family violence.
The Big Love Light Walk will become a symbol for the community to express their love of children and willingness to act to defend their childhood, a 3.5 km track along the Yarra River connecting families and friends with live music, a family film screening and favourite childhood games hosted by YMCA. It will inspire the whole community to be passionate about defending the right of all children to loving, caring and safe relationships.
The Issue and Our Impact
Each year, the Foundation provides specialist intervention to 1200 – 1500 children and young people and/or their families or carers.
94% of children show a significant reduction in their trauma symptoms in their first 12 months at the Foundation.
92% of schools report that they are clearer about how to respond to traumatised children as a result of their involvement with the Foundation.
88% of foster carers report feeling less stressed and more confident in knowing how to support and look after the children in their care and 86% of children do not experience any placement breakdowns after their involvement with the Foundation.
64% of children successfully engage in a social group or sport for the first time as a result of the Foundation's intervention.
To us, light symbolises the power of relationships to transform the worlds of abused and traumatised children. It shows us the way to #defendchildhood for all children. Love is a powerful force. You can be too. To sign up for the Big Love Light Walk register here. If you cannot make the walk there are plenty of ways to show your support via donations, official merchandise and your social media communities, all of which is listed on the website.