PROUD: Annie Park has won a child protection week award.
PROUD: Annie Park has won a child protection week award. Cordell Richardson

Tackling taboo subjects with parents

AN IPSWICH initiative designed to guide early learning centre educators through the often difficult subject of child sexual abuse has earned a Queensland Child Protection Week Award.

Yvonne Black and Annabel Park from True Relationships and Reproductive Health have been part of a team taking the program Do you know the signs? into hundreds of early learning centres from Ipswich to Inala.

Ms Park said the mentoring program aimed to reduce child sexual abuse through the provision of face-to-face training, mentoring, and resources to Early Childhood Education and Care centres.

It assists centres, educators, parents and carers to support healthy sexuality, sexual behaviours and protective factors in early childhood to help children to be safer.

"We were very lucky to receive funding from Mission Australia, which enabled us to go into the centres and provide training and mentoring,” Ms Park said.

"Basically we go into the centres and do a professional development session.

"It is all about helping them in understanding childhood sexual development, learn how to respond to certain behaviours in children and to recognise any signs of abuse.”

Ms Park said educating parents was also a big part of the program, with the topics covered often considered taboo.

"Sometimes people look at these things through an adult's eyes,” she said.

"Once they come to the training they seem to get it. We receive a lot of good responses.”

Ms Black said there was a gap identified in protective education, with most of it initially focussed on the signs or how to look out for something that had happened to the child, rather than acting before anything did happen.

More than 450 early years educators have participated in training over the past four years.

Ms Black and Ms Park also gained recognition as a Promising Program with the Australian Institute of Family Studies late last year, following rigorous planning and implementation with a number of ECEC centres, and positive local evaluation of the program.

The pair will be presented with the QCPW Education Initiative Award on August 29.

"We are incredibly proud,” Ms Park said.

"We really think the award highlights the importance of this sort of education in the community, and the fact that child protection is everyone's business.”