November 20, 2014

The #NotAnotherChild Movement – What is it about?

This article was authored by Dani Colvin,

Coordinator, Partnerships Fundraising and Marketing at the Australian Childhood Foundation.

As professionals in your chosen field, you understand the power of knowledge. It’s the key that is unlocking a deeper understanding of the neurobiology of complex trauma in children. This constantly evolving insight is translated into innovative practices that better support abused and neglected children, as well as carers and parents. And this in turn is having considerable, positive impact on the outcomes for children reaching toward a future for themselves that is not defined by their past experiences.

Unfortunately, within the broader community, the gap in this understanding is significant. It’s not that people don’t care about children: we know from our own research that’s not true. It is perhaps more likely this general lack of understanding about the nature of abuse, neglect and family violence leaves people feeling disempowered, uncertain, and frightened of the issue.

We at the Foundation believe that a large part of the solution lies with supporting the community to learn more and understand more, thereby giving them the confidence to engage with the issue of child abuse at a deeper level. That’s the thinking behind our campaign, #NotAnotherChild, which was kicked off by patron Chris Hemsworth in the last week of September.

While the campaign will eventually come to an end, as all campaigns, do, its real significance and value lies in it being merely the starting point for something much bigger and more enduring; a movement for social change. #NotAnotherChild is the starting point for a movement that will hopefully bring about a real and meaningful shift in the way the Australian community perceives and prioritises the issue of child abuse and neglect.

We hope to ignite in ordinary Australians a passion for the protection of all children and a commitment to helping ensure it happens. If we can achieve that, it will mean individuals need no longer be concerned that they can’t make a difference; they’ll be part of a team working together that has much greater effectiveness and influence. It will mean that people will begin to think about the previously unthinkable, and talk about the previously unspeakable, because they will be inspired, informed and supported within their community of like-minded people to do so.

In the meantime, #NotAnotherChild is all about getting the community to think about the issue in a way that’s relatable and simple. Using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we’ve been asking people to send in photos of precious childhood memories to help them and their circle of friends reflect on the ordinary, everyday, but deeply important parts of childhood that abused children so often miss out on. It’s supported by a series of TV commercials featuring Chris and the real words of children in counselling. Channel 7 and Yahoo 7 lent their invaluable support, helping to dramatically increase our visibility and reach in a way we could never have achieved without their backing. You can watch one of them here:

With Chris at the helm, and with the support of our wonderful ambassadors including actor Liam Hemsworth (Chris’ brother), former cricketer David Boon, actor Robyn Moore, radio hosts Kim Napier and Dave Noonan, and singer and blogger Casey Burgess, we have been staggered by the positive response to the campaign.

Chris was in Australia for the launch and you could barely turn on a TV without seeing him champion the cause. He appeared on Sunrise, with the AFL Game Day panel in Federation Square before the Grand Final, on The Morning Show, The Daily Edition, and in a Channel Nine News interview with Jo Hall.

He and our CEO, Dr Joe Tucci, were also invited to Canberra to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Julie Bishop, to discuss the possibility of a national rollout of our Safeguarding Children program. It was an unmissable opportunity to speak with the people who have the greatest opportunity of all to create real change for children in this country; we are looking forward to seeing some very positive results and will continue to work towards helping achieve them.

In the first week of the campaign, this small organisation – with its scanty but committed Facebook following of around 1,700 people – reached 9.9 million people globally, and 2.2 million in Australia through social media. We’re aware that much of that is thanks to the Chris and Liam factor. Nevertheless, we have had the opportunity to place the issue of child abuse squarely in front of a legion of people who might otherwise have been left to feel disengaged.

Two months in, we are seeing people connect to the issue in a much more personal way. We’re watching it spark conversations that weren’t being had before. We’re noticing people come to us with a desire to invest themselves personally in what they now understand can no longer be written off as ‘someone else’s problem.’

We’re asking these people to step up and sign up. To register to become children’s campaigners. To be willing to commit themselves to learn more about the issue, to develop creative, effective ways they can work within their own communities to make and keep children safe. To advocate for children who have no one else to stand up for them. To share our megaphone and raise awareness. To be actively engaged in the safety of the children in their community and to encourage others to do the same.

It’s not a small undertaking. Selection of course will be rigorous. Campaigner groups will need to meet regularly. There will be plenty of hard work. But we believe enough people out there really do want to give more, do more and be more – they just need to find the cause that motivates them to strive.

It’s only very early days and the task ahead for us is huge: to convert this connection, commitment and passion into empowerment and action and keep the flame burning bright. It’s very big picture. It’s going to be hard. But we are convinced we are on the right track. We can see the way ahead, and we’re going to keep treading the path. And if you’d like to join us, we’d love to have you walk beside us.

If you’d like to share your own childhood memory in support of #NotAnotherChild, simply post to social media as you usually do.

Include the hashtag #NotAnotherChild, tag Australian Childhood Foundation, and tag friends to invite them to join in.

Have you seen our campaign or been aware of it? Do you think it has the potential to be effective?

Do you agree that a community approach to a community issue is the way to go? We would love, as always, to hear your thoughts.