Monday, September 3rd, 2018 - Insight Communications for Bravehearts



White Balloon Day is Friday 7 September During National Child Protection Week 2 – 8 September 2018


EVENT DATE:                 Monday 3 September 2018

MEDIA CALL TIME:       10:00am – 11:00am

LOCATION:                     Bravehearts Tasmania Education Office

ADDRESS:                      Tailrace House – Office 8 - 1 Waterfront Drive, Riverside TAS 7250


INTERVIEW, PHOTO & VISION OPPORTUNITY:  Bravehearts’ Tasmania Education Team, Jeanette Prince, Aaron Moir and Bravhearts’ national treasure, Ditto, the friendly lion cub with government representatives to be confirmed.


Today, in the lead up to White Balloon Day, Bravehearts’ national treasure, Ditto (the friendly lion cub who has been helping Tasmanian children stay safe since 2015), will launch Child Protection Week from Ditto’s Launceston home. 

The importance of Child Protection Week and Bravehearts’ national White Balloon Day campaign in preventing child sexual assault in Tasmania cannot be overstated.

Every 90 minutes a child is 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.

Hetty Johnston AM, Founder and Executive Chair of Bravehearts said, “Child protection is everybody’s business with Governments among the most important stakeholders in child protection. 

“Every child has the right to feel safe and thanks to the tremendous support we’ve received from the Tasmanian government, together we are creating child safe communities for all Tasmanian families,” Ms Johnston said.

To help empower parents to protect their children from sexual harm, as part of Child Protection Week, Bravehearts’ is launching their FREE Personal Safety Parents’ Guide to give parents and carers insight into the myths and facts about child sexual assault and valuable guidance on personal safety education for their children.

The Guide provides tips for keeping children of all ages safe online and simple step-by-step activities for teaching children personal safety, based on Bravehearts’ acclaimed Ditto Keep Safe Adventure program that has been delivered face-to-face to children in all corners of Australia since 2006.

Bravehearts’ extensive Ditto education program includes the Ditto Keep Safe Adventure live show presented in schools and childcare centres, the Ditto in a Box educators’ pack, the Ditto parent packs and Ditto's Keep Safe Adventure DVD and music CDS for young children.

Thanks to funding from the Tasmanian Government, Ditto and the Bravehearts’ Tasmanian Education team have delivered the live Ditto Keep Safe Adventure Show at 181 (84%) Tasmanian schools multiple times while Ditto has also visited more than 50% of Tasmanian Child Care Centres to help keep Tassie kids safe from harm.

Ditto, the star of the Show is a friendly, non-verbal lion cub in purple overalls, whose personal safety messages are facilitated via a specially trained Bravehearts educational performer. Ditto and the facilitator impart the educational messages using song, dance and child-friendly, age-appropriate language.  

The live Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure Show is facilitated by education teams in Tasmania, Victoria, NSW, South East Qld and Northern Qld, who collectively visit up to 2000 schools and early-learning centres annually along the East Coast, as well as in remote and rural communities as far north as Thursday Island and inland to Longreach and surrounding outback communities. 

Everyone can help Bravehearts educate, empower and protect children by participating in the annual White Balloon Day (Friday 7 Sept) as part of National Child Protection Week (2 -8 Sept).

Endorsed and funded by the Department of Social Services National Initiatives, White Balloon Day is Australia’s longest running and only annual national campaign to increase community awareness of child sexual assault to prevent a crime currently affecting more than 58,000 children across Australia, every year.

Bravehearts is Australia’s leader in child protection offering specialised training services for government organisations, educators in schools and childcare centres, education and support services for children and their families, while parents and carers can download free child safe information resources from our website 

Call our toll free Support Line on 1800 272 831 Monday to Friday between 8:30am to 4:30pm (AEST) or visit our website To register for White Balloon Day, please visit

#WBD2018 #ProtectKids #Bravehearts #ChildProtectionWeek #WhiteBalloonDay #BeBalloonSafe #1in5 #DittoProtectsKids



For interview requests with Bravehearts please contact Insight Communications.

Clare Collins - P: 02 9518 4744 – M: 0414 821 957 E: [email protected]

Alice Collins - P: 02 9518 4744 – M: 0414 686 091 E: [email protected]


White Balloon Day is on Friday 7 September during National Child Protection Week 2-8 September 2018

Bravehearts and White Balloon Day – Educate, Empower, Protect Our Kids!

Bravehearts is Australia’s leading voice for child protection and has been dedicated to protecting Australian children for 22 years. White Balloon Day is Australia’s largest annual national campaign to raise awareness of and funds for, the prevention of child sexual assault.

All Australians are invited to support the campaign by registering at

PLEASE NOTE: Bravehearts is aware that balloons, when released outside and not disposed of accordingly, are damaging to the environment. This is why Bravehearts DOES NOT endorse the release or use of balloons out of doors in any way as part of our annual White Balloon Day campaign.

White Balloon Day 2018 – How the community can get involved

  • Register to hold a White Balloon Day awareness or fundraising event or activity in your workplace, school, community group, sporting club, council or home.
  • Schools and childcare centres - take part in the White Balloon Day CHALK ART PROJECT to win free personal safety teaching resources for your school or centre.
  • Download free resources from the website to help spread the word about White Balloon Day and child protection week.
  • Donate or fundraise online to help prevent child sexual assault and protect Australian children –    

Australian Child Sexual Assault Statistics

  • Every 90 minutes an Australian child is sexually assaulted.
  • 58,000 Australian children are sexually assaulted in Australia each year.
  • One in five Australian children will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday. 
  • The majority of child sexual assault crimes are perpetrated by persons known to the child.
  • A sample of Australian women showed that 45% reported experiencing at least one unwanted sexual incident before 16 years of age by family members (31%), friends (54%) or strangers (14%).
  • Fewer than 28% of victims of child sexual assault disclose to authorities. Of this, only 17% of offences reported to police, result in convictions.


The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

Bravehearts’ specialised services address the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual AbuseWhite Balloon Day supports The National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020 and is endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments.


The outcomes of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse have given adult survivors hope and in some cases, redress. With data from NSW Police showing 4% of all recent reported allegations were associated with an institution, this indicates that assaults in institutional environments are declining. 

With one Australian child sexually assaulted every 90 minutes, increasing awareness and education of this crime can increase reports of child sexual assault by persons known to the child and empower them with strategies and confidence to find their voice to say NO to child sexual assault and disclose to someone they know they can trust.

Recommendation 6.12

Among the recommendations, the Royal Commission called for support from governments at the national, state and territory levels, local governments, should designate child safety officer positions from existing staff profiles to carry out the following functions:

  • Developing child safe messages in local government venues, grounds and facilities;
  • Assisting local institutions to access online child safe resources;
  • Providing child safety information and support to local institutions on a needs basis; and,
  • Supporting local institutions to work collaboratively with key services to ensure child safe approaches are culturally safe, disability aware and appropriate for children from diverse backgrounds.

Indicators of Child Sexual Assault for Parents & Teachers

As children often lack the words to describe sexual assault, they find it exceptionally difficult to disclose.  The more severe the degree of harm, the less likely it is that the child/young person will disclose. The fear of a negative reaction and possible punishment can also prevent children from speaking out.  

Children may try to subtly open the conversation by asking “Do you like so and so?… I don’t” or “I’ve got a secret”. However, there are a number of physical and behavioural symptoms that indicate a child or young person may have been harmed.  While physical and behavioural symptoms should be viewed as a sign that something may be worrying the child, it should NOT be automatically assumed that harm is occurring

By talking to the child, this may reveal something quite innocent so be sure to speak with the child before making accusations.

What Parents & Adults Should Look For

Parents, teachers, carers, child protection workers, counsellors etc., all need to know the symptoms of child sexual assault so if  there are significant changes in behaviour, increased fears, or physical symptoms, they can talk to the child to discuss what they might be feeling.


Common Indicators in Children

Common Indicators in Offenders

  • Fear of being hurt during nappy change or dressing.
  • Loss of concentration.
  • Development of eating disorders.
  • Fear of being alone with a particular person.
  • Sexual themes in artwork, stories, play etc..
  • Showing a knowledge of sexual behaviour beyond their years.
  • Bedwetting or soiling after being toilet trained.
  • “Acting out” behaviours; for example, aggression, destructive behaviours, truanting behaviour.
  • “Acting in” behaviours; for example, withdrawal from friends, depression.
  • Vaginal, penile or anal soreness, discharge or bleeding.
  • Problems with friends and schoolwork.
  • Vague symptoms of illness such as headache or tummy ache.
  • Self-harming.
  • Inappropriate displays of affection or sexualised play.
  • Over attention to adults of a particular sex.
  • Paying particular interest to a child.
  • Isolating a child from other children.
  • Engaging in inappropriate/unwanted close physical contact with a child.
  • More interested in children than adults.
  • Suspicious behaviour in relation to children (watching/following/photos/gifts).
  • Often has a special ‘child friend’.
  • Encourages secrets in children.
  • Links sexuality and aggression in language or behaviour.
  • Makes reference to or makes fun of children’s bodies.
  • Describes children with sexual words.
  • Seems unclear about what is appropriate with children and what is not.
  • Has an interest in sexual fantasies involving children.
  • Looks at or downloads child pornography.
  • Asks adult partners to act or dress like a child or teenager during sexual activity.



The Effects of Child Sexual Assault on Individuals and the Community

The Effects on Child Victims

More than 80% of children who experienced child sexual assault are reported to have some post-traumatic stress symptoms. Disclosure and reporting of the crime of child sexual assault can lead to preventing further harm and potentially; the prosecution of perpetrators while improving long-term outcomes for victims through counselling and support. However, the traumatic impact on victims can cause emotional distress and a range of cognitive distortions in childhood, including feelings of hopelessness, impaired trust and self-blame leading to the following issues:

  • Behaviour problems, poor self-esteem, and sexualised behaviours;
  • Development of insecure attachment patterns;
  • Failure to develop brain capacities necessary for modulating emotions;
  • Inability to discriminate among and label affective states;
  • Detachment from awareness of emotions and self;
  • Under-controlled and over-controlled behaviour patterns;
  • Lower grades and poorer academic achievement;
  • A defective, helpless, deficient sense of self; and,
  • Greater internalising and externalising behaviour problems.

The Effects on Adult Survivors

The impact of the crime of child sexual assault can last a lifetime with adults suffering from a number of behavioural and metal health conditions including:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, anxiety, reduced self-esteem, drug and alcohol dependence, heavy and hazardous drinking, illicit drug and substance abuse, drug overdose, anti-social and harmful behaviour; and increased violence and hostility among male victims.
  • There is an increased likelihood of being arrested in adolescence by as much as 59%.
  • They are 49 times more likely to die from accidental overdose than other Australians.
  • Suicide is significantly higher (18 times higher) among adult victims of child sexual assault compared to other Australians. Women victims are 40 times more likely to take their own life.

The Fiscal Effects on the Australian Economic & Community

According to studies (2007), the future financial cost to Australia over the lifetime of abused, neglected and sexually assaulted children is estimated to be approx. between $13.7 ($105k per child) and $38.7 billion ($297k per child).

Adult Responses to the Subject of Child Sexual Assault

In 2009, the Australian Childhood Foundation published outcomes from their third survey on the national community attitude about child sexual assault and child protection. Key findings included:

  • 1 in 3 Australians would not believe children if they disclosed they were being assaulted.
  • Greater than 1 in 4 Australians do not feel confident enough to recognise the signs of child abuse, neglect and child sexual assault.
  • 1 in 5 lacked the confidence to know what to do if they suspected that a child was being harmed.
  • Unless they come face to face with the issue, collectively Australians rate petrol prices, public transport and roads as issues of greater concern than child abuse and sexual assault.
  • 90% of adults surveyed believed that the community needs to be better informed about the problem of child abuse and sexual assault in Australia. 86% of Australian believed that Commonwealth and State Governments should invest more money in protecting children from abuse, neglect and sexual assault.


'As a long term supporter of Bravehearts, can I ask your support for White Balloon Day?

An individuals’ safety underpins their entire quality of life and is a right not an option. There is still much to do in that regard and Bravehearts are at the forefront. They need assistance to continue their important and valuable work.'

Bob Atkinson AO APM

Bravehearts Ambassador & Former Commissioner for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse




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Clare or Alice Collins

P: +61 2 9518 4744
M: 0414 821 957 or 0414 686 091


Child Protection Week, Bravehearts, White Balloon Day, Hetty Johnston, Tasmania, Ditto,




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