Gold Coast grade ones learn to BE SAFE

27 February 2014





Act for Kids’ Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy protective behaviours program was at risk of being cancelled for this year’s grade one students due to lack of funding. When Newell Consulting Engineers heard that could leave Gold Coast kids vulnerable to abuse, the local business stepped up to cover the costs for the next two years.

The program consists of one-hour workshops run in grade one classes for five weeks. It teaches children to understand when they feel safe and unsafe, identify trusted adults they can talk to, and what to do when they feel unsafe.

Newell Consulting Engineers Director, Darren Newell, said they had been a long-term supporter of Act for Kids because the organisation has a strong commitment to social justice and provides services that deliver results.

“We believe that preventing child abuse and neglect is essential if rates of abuse and neglect are to be reduced – treating the after-effects is not the solution. Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy is a preventative program with proven results, and to us, represents a social investment.

“For Newell Consulting Engineers, supporting Act for Kids is a long-term investment in the Gold Coast community, where our employees live and we’re proud to operate. As long as we’re supported commercially by the community, we as an organisation will always do what we can to give back and build the best future we can for local kids and families,” Mr Newell said.

Act for Kids has run Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy in a limited number of Gold Coast schools for the last few years. Act for Kids Gold Coast Regional Director, Dr Kaye Pickering, said the number of schools and children who will participate will increase in the next two years thanks to the corporate donation.

“We’re very proud of this program and have embarked on a research project with Griffith University to study the long-term impact of the program. A 2012 pilot study showed it was effective in teaching children what to do if they felt worried or unsafe.

“To think we wouldn’t be able to continue to run it was a huge disappointment. Newell Consulting Engineers’ generosity will benefit thousands of Gold Coast children,” Dr Pickering said.

Marymount Primary School Principal, Greg Casey, said the response to the Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy program from both children and staff has been outstanding.

“The messages were presented in a safe and fun way which has provided the children with lifelong tools and strategies to assist them to cope if they feel unsafe or in danger. The follow up activities were well thought out and worthwhile. The children looked forward to the weekly sessions and were genuinely disappointed when they came to an end,” Mr Casey said.

The research to be conducted over the next two years will assess the long-term effectiveness of the program by assessing increases in children’s knowledge, changes in their behaviour, and improvements in their intentions to seek help. Another outcome is improved responses to children’s disclosures of abuse and safety concerns by schools.