Every 90 minutes a child is substantiated as having been sexually assaulted in Australia - that’s 1 in 5 children who are sexually harmed in some way before their 18th Birthday – a statistic that is totally unacceptable in Australian society.
Bravehearts’ annual White Balloon Day, now in its 22nd year, is Australia’s longest running and only national campaign that increases community awareness of child sexual assault to help break the silence surrounding a crime that affects more than 58,000 children across Australia, every year.
For Lyndal, Bravehearts’ Ambassador and the woman who changed the course of Australian history through her landmark court case that exposed child sexual assault in Australian institutions and brought about Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, breaking the silence of child sexual assault means everything.
The church had denied her abuse for over a decade. In 1998, at just 21 years-of-age, Lyndal took an extraordinary step for one so young and did something no one else had had the courage to do. Lyndal sued Toowoomba Prep and the powerful Anglican Church in a civil court action that would lead to giving voice to thousands of victims who suffered while in the care of the church and other institutions.
“I didn’t do it for me. I did it for every victim out there. It’s got to stop. Society now demands that this crime against innocent children must stop and through supporting Bravehearts’ vital work, we can all help to prevent other children from enduring this crime that breaks little hearts and destroys lives,” said Lyndal.
With rates of child sexual assault and exploitation in Australia remaining at crisis levels, now more than ever before Bravehearts needs the support of communities and governments to help increase awareness to protect our children from a crime that breaks the little hearts and spirits of Australia’s most precious treasures – our children.
In 2016, of the 23,052 total cases of sexual assault recorded by police in Australia, 12,956 were child victims aged 0 – 19 years accounting for 56% of all sexual assault crimes in this country and of the 5.7 million children living in Australia at that time, an estimated 8% of boys and 20% of girls had been sexually assaulted.
Through White Balloon Day we can help break the silence surrounding this crime to help make Australia the safest place in the world to raise a child.
This year, when it comes to child protection, parents, kids, everyone is being asked to ‘chalk about child protection’ and draw chalk balloons on pavements with messages of support and encouragement for our children and adult survivors.
When people use chalk to draw balloons with a message of hope and support, they can be sure it’s environmentally safe and that someone who needs to see their message will see it.
Everyone can help our children stay safe by participating in White Balloon Day and creating a chalk art activity or by making a donation at whiteballoonday.com.au or visit your local Telstra store to make a donation.
Parents can also help to protect their kids by downloading Bravehearts’ FREE Personal Safety Parents’ Guide https://bravehearts.org.au/personalsafety