Townsville’s grade one kids learn to be safe

15 August 2013




The launch of the Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy with Melissa Freestun, Psychologist at Act for Kids.

Act for Kids has recently launched the Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy protective behaviours program for Townsville’s grade one students, thanks to generous funding from Xstrata Community Program North Queensland.

The Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy program helps young children recognise when they feel safe and unsafe, identify several adults they trust and would ask for help when they feel unsafe, what to do if they feel unsafe and increases their awareness of personal safety.

Act for Kids Regional Director North Queensland, Renee McAllister, said the program will reach more than 700 grade one students in Townsville each year.

“The program will help to educate up to 1,400 primary school kids over two years and also teachers and parents of the children. The focus of the program is to reduce the risk and consequences of harm for children by encouraging and developing skills in children in speaking up if they experience harm or feel unsafe.

“Using early learning principles, Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy helps kids to identify and articulate their feelings, know the difference between secrets and surprises, identify public and private body parts and maintain their own personal space.

“By building resilience in children, we encourage open communication with safe adults when they identify that something or someone has made them feel uncomfortable. When kids speak up if they experience harm, and an adult takes prompt action to protect them, then the long term consequences of abuse are reduced for kids,” Renee said.

The Xstrata Community Program North Queensland, which has provided almost $25 million to support community groups and government agencies across North Queensland, has partnered with Act for Kids to deliver the program to children in the Townsville region in 2013 and 2014.

“Through our Community Program we are extremely pleased to be partnering with Act for Kids in the Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy program. Children are vulnerable members of our community; giving them skills to be able to speak up if they feel unsafe is something that is vitally important,” said Glencore Xstrata Manager, Port and Logistics, Merv Sharkey.

Learn to BE SAFE with Emmy includes five weekly workshops delivered in schools by trained Act for Kids staff. The program is activity based, fun and interactive and has been received very positive feedback from teachers whose classes have participated in the program.