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Safe and Supportive Environments

Bravehearts encourages the community to get involved and


assist in helping children and families who are victims or are
experiencing assault in their lives. Bravehearts host many events
and also asks individuals to contribute to this abundant cause. Some
ways that Bravehearts are able to assist include; events,
memberships, fundraisers, sponsoring a child and participating in
volunteer work (Bravehearts, 2016d). It is essential that Bravehearts
provide children with a safe environment where they feel, safe,
secure and free of any harm or danger. Braveheart also supports
and assists children, adolescents, and both female and male adults
and families who have experienced sexual assault (Bravehearts,
2016d).
Individuals who have been sexually assaulted react to this
incident differently to others, some may be affected short term
where as others grieve long term. Effects that the individual may
experience are fear, shock and denial, depression, anxiety, guilt or
low self-esteem. Many children who have suffered emotionally have
emotional difficulties throughout their adolescence years (Mrazekm
1986). It is vital that individuals prevent this from occurring by
offering assistance to the victims by allowing them to express their
emotions and feelings, as this will lower their chances of struggling
with depression in the future (Felson & Cundiff, 2013).

This affects the individuals wellbeing physically, emotionally


and socially; this is why it is vital for children to be surrounded by
positive and safe environments to ensure their wellbeing and state
of mind is risk free (Bravehearts, 2016b, p.2).
Each organisation that has any level of responsibility, whether
that may be for their education, care of the employment of youth,
assumes a duty of care towards those adolescences. This will then
lead to organisations such as Bravehearts and 1800 RESPECT to
having a deeper significant duty of care towards a child rather than
an adult due to the fact that children are less capable at the law of
holding and implementing the complete legal rights and obligations
compared to adults.
In modern society, certain Australian organisations have
improved their main emphasis on avoiding Workplace Health and
Safety incidents. This allows some extent of protection for both
children and adults, however, it does not explain some risks that
may be particular to children, which includes the exclusively
challenging subject of child sexual assault. By not having an
understanding of the management of child protection risks, the
organisation could be held accountable, both for their actions and
inactions.
Bravehearts focus on giving children the greatest aspects in
life; this is shown through fundraisers and events that they hold for
victims who have been sexually assaulted. Children who have been

physically or sexually assaulted at a young age are more likely to


struggle with social skills and communicational skills as an adult as
apposed to a child who has not been exposed to any sort of assault
in their childhood (Felson & Cundiff, 2013). Bravehearts strives to
give individuals a fun, happy and fulfilled environment where they
are supported and safe. Educational programs are also offered to
children, programs that teach children self-defence, personal safety,
expert development, and a keep safe programme that explains to
children the safety of stranger danger and protecting themselves
(Bravehearts, 2012a). These programs are carried out in a nonconfrontational manner that is fun, encouraging and engaging for
the children to participate in. Bravehearts also carries out these
programs by travelling to schools, day cares and other facilities
relating to children to bring a strong message across to children
about assault.
Diverse Needs and Linguistic Backgrounds
Bravehearts is an organisation that strives to build a better
and safer future for all children. This organisation is a friendly and
welcoming support system that provides for all individuals from
different backgrounds. Bravehearts work with a team of executive
researchers who have an interest and passion for children and
research relating to assault. The executive research panel works
with a diverse membership ensuring that all members receive the
support they are entitled to. The purpose of the executive research

panel of brave hearts is to distribute knowledge and experiences


with one another and to work collaboratively to guarantee that the
children and the community are their best interest (Bravehearts
2016b).
Dr Melissa Curley who is a graduate from the University of
Queensland is a member on the panel who graduated with a degree
in international studies, Dr Curley is aware of diverse and cultural
backgrounds and the impact that religion beliefs may have towards
sexual assault in children (Bravehearts, 2016b).
There are many services and organisations that are available
to children and families of sexually assaulted victims all over
Australia. The national service 1800 RESPECT can support, comfort
and assist individuals in unfortunate situations, such as sexual
assault. 1800 Respect that is a call centre for victims of sexual
assault work amongst Bravehearts to help prevent sexual assault
from re-occurring and to release the children from the unsafe
environment. Bravehearts have a service that answers all calls
immediately and caters for individuals who need a translator or
interpreter (Bravehearts, 2016e).
Sexual assault can occur to any individual of any background,
families who struggle with English as a first language may find this
obstacle harder to overcome as they feel their diversity is a barrier.
However, Bravehearts provides translators and interpreters to assist
in counselling and seeking help from victims. Cultural procedures

that are undergone around the world are considered to be acts of


sexual assault in Australia; however, they are considered cultural
and religious practices in other places around the world (Mrezek,
1986).
Many volunteers participate in services that assist victims to
speak about their feelings or encouraging them to participate in
events that allow them to change their mental state of mind
(Bravehearts, 2016d). Victims are affected emotionally as different
cultures experience different ways of experiencing with grief, or
unfortunate situations such as sexual assault. Not only are children
affected at the time of the assault, it also affects them throughout
their development and later years in life. Stated in Sexually abused
children and their families by David Mrazek, and Henry Kempe
discuss matters and problems that associates with sexual assault,
emotionally and culturally. Emotional problems gave been reported
to have been present in more than two-thirds of the child victims at
the time of initial evaluation (Mrazek, 1986). Through this quote it
is evident that all victims who have been assaulted will experience
emotional difficulties through childhood or sometime throughout
their life.
Student Well-Being and Minimising Risk
It is important to highlight that children are most vulnerable
between ages eight to twelve. The average age for first abuse is 9.9
years for boys and 9.6 years for girls (Finkelhor, 1986) and therefore

programs need to be put into place to make children aware of the


risks that are out there in the community. The Bravehearts
organisation has developed a few programs that are targeted a
different age groups to educate children in a safe and supportive
space where they can learn and understand how to react if a
situation was to occur. The main mission or aim of the Bravehearts
organisation is to eliminate child sexual abuse and make Australia
the safest place to raise a child (Bravehearts, 2016f). Some of the
programs that Bravehearts offers is the dittos keep safe program
which is available in many different forms and the supporting hands
workshops, a program targeted at parent groups and all those who
work with children to guide them on effective communication and
support (Bravehearts, 2016f).
The Ditto program is offered in 4 different setting:
1.

Dittos Keep Safe Adventure show is a live show

that is used to teach children personal safety in a nonconfrontational, fun and interactive way. This program is run in
schools, day care centres, sporting clubs, shopping centres
and many other facilities and is a way to provide students,
parents, teachers and the wider community with specialised
child sexual assault awareness and education (Bravehearts,
2016g).
2.

Dittos CD-rom, which was formed with the

assistance of the Commonwealth Department of Family and


Community Services along with the Telstra foundation. This

CD-ROM is a way of providing students with an interactive fun


and safe medium that conveys the messages communicated
in Dittos Keep Safe Adventure show (Bravehearts, 2016g).
This interactive unit aims at teaching children ways in which
they can recognise potentially dangerous situations and also
provide children with advice on how to deal with a situation if
one was to occur. This program was developed under the
guidance and consultation of child protection specialists along
with contributions from other agencies both government and
private. This compact CD rom format is a fun and interactive
way for children to engage with the material in a nonconfrontational way (Bravehearts, 2016g).
3.
Ditto in a Box is a new resource developed by the
Bravehearts organisation is a program that provides
important information for both the teachers and students
retaining to personal safety. This educational resource is
equipped with a teaching guide for staff, important reporting
guidelines and background information about the Bravehearts
specialists team, music, posters and interactive activities that
are aimed at teaching personal safety. This program can be
used as a stand-alone program or as an opportunity for
children to understand and extend the messages conveyed in
Dittos Keep Safe Adventure Show (Bravehearts, 2016g).
4.
Dittos Keep Safe Adventure Booklet and the
Dittos Keep Safe Adventure Songs. These two resources are
often used together to effectively communicate and or extend

the concepts shown in the Adventure show and or the Box set.
The booklet contains a selection of games and activities that
continue to communicate the messages from Dittos Keep
Safe Adventure show (Bravehearts, 2016g).
The other program Supporting Hands workshops are
focused mainly at parents and cares in order to support and
teach children about personal safety along with what child sexual
abuse. This program looks at how to respond to disclosed or
suspected harm, organisations and legislative requirements
along with how to ensure that the organisations are child
protection friendly along with ensuring that the child feels safe
and supported. This is an important resource for all careers as it
not only educates teachers on what child sexual abuse is but it
also teaches how to respond and act if a case is disclosed to an
adult in a way that ensures that the child feels safe and
supported (Bravehearts, 2016h).
Resilience
When we discuss resilience we need to acknowledge that a
child who has been sexually abused has a range of very serious
consequences for victims. Zwi (2007) lists depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, antisocial behaviours, suicidal tendencies,
eating disorders, alcohol and drug misuse, post-partum depression,
parenting difficulties, sexual re-victimisation and sexual dysfunction
as some of the manifestations of child sexual abuse among victims

at a young age that can extend into adulthood. It is the work of


programs like Bravehearts that provide children with the
opportunities to speak up and against child sexual abuse. The
primary reason that the public is not sufficiently aware of child
sexual abuse as a problem is that 73% of child victims do not tell
anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not
tell anyone for at least 5 years. Some never disclose (Broman-Fulks
et al., 2007). This is a statistic that should never be this high. With
the work Bravehearts does children now have more opportunities to
not only learn and guard themselves against sexual abuse but also
to talk about it with someone they feel with support them and
provide them with a safe space when disclosing the information. Not
all children know and or understand what sexual abuse is and how it
affects some children today. The program that Bravehearts has
developed is allowing children to approach adults and talk about the
subject enabling him or herself to move past the incident if one such
occurred. This program is building and developing resilience not
only amongst children against child sexual abuse and personal
abuse.
Community and Networks
White balloon day is Bravehearts key awareness and
fundraising campaign supported by communities across Australia to
help protect Australian children (Bravehearts, 2016f). By supporting
this important organisation members of the community will be

making not only our community safer but also supporting the
courageous families and children that are affected by sexual assault.
White balloon day is an amazing opportunity for communities to
actively raise awareness and funds in support of those members of
their community who have been impacted by sexual assault. 2016
will be the 20th white balloon day in support of eradicating child
sexual abuse (Bravehearts, 2016f). All donations made in support of
white balloon day will be used to educate, empower and protect
Australian children (Bravehearts, 2016f). The Bravehearts
organisation has a vision to eliminate child sexual abuse and make
Australia the safest place to raise a child (Bravehearts, 2016a). This
year the Braveheart campaign have create a digital sky where you
can release your very own site that balloon and share it with as
many friends as possible this online approach to fundraising is a
new way to make connections to a changing society where we as
individuals interact daily in online social settings. White balloon day
is held every year within child protection week and this year will be
hosted on 9th September. Events such as White Balloon Day
encourages communities to raise awareness and create new support
network in order to create safe a supportive environments for all
(Bravehearts, 2016f). Along with the white balloon day initiative, the
Braveheart organisation holds a yearly white gala ball that
encourages members from all communities to come together and
hear testimonials from people who have benefited from the
important work Braveheart's does, not only in educating children

but also providing them with an opportunity to have a voice and


begin a healing process for those most affected (Bravehearts,
2016f).