- On January 30, 2017
- Jan/Feb2017, NSW Doctor
Stop the Clock
AMA (NSW) created the Stop the Clock campaign to raise awareness of the prevalence of child abuse, as well as highlight the resources available to those affected.
TRAGICALLY, every 15 minutes in Australia, a child is abused. In 2014-15, almost 152,000 Australian children received child protection services – roughly one in 35.
There are many forms of abuse – physical, sexual, emotional and neglect. In extreme cases, victims of child abuse die. And those who live must suffer the impact of that abuse for the rest of their lives.
Doctors are often at the forefront of responding to and treating the consequences of child abuse – or what we often term in medicine as ‘non accidental injury’.
Former Federal AMA President, Professor Brian Owler, who helped launched the campaign, said when he first started working at Westmead as a paediatric neurosurgeon, he was appalled at the number of children coming in with non-accidental injuries.
“I was shocked at the number of babies that present through the emergency department with subdural haematomas or bleeding on the brain as a result of being shaken, but also the toddlers that were beaten senseless, with fractured skulls and traumatic brain injuries,” he told media.
“At the Children’s Hospital each year we probably see 12 or so severe brain injuries that come through our doors, not to mention all of the other cases of physical abuse,” he said. “Some of them die in hospital, the vast majority end up with severe disability and are in need of lifelong care.”
The AMA estimates about 25 children are killed around the country each year by a parent or step-parent, with another 50,000 abused. Last year, Westmead Children’s Hospital referred 569 injured children to the Child Protection Unit.
Together, with other frontline professionals in child protection, AMA (NSW) would like to make a positive impact on the incidence of child abuse.
AMA (NSW) coordinated with the Child Protection Unit at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, and NSW Health to launch the Stop the Clock campaign in January.
Central to the campaign is the Stop the Clock website (stoptheclock.today) which features a powerful image on its homepage, created by the Joy Agency. The image illustrates the sad reality that in Australia, a child is abused every 15 minutes.
The website also includes a direct appeal from Child Protection Unit social worker, Calli Goninan to children who might currently be experiencing child abuse, as well clear information on where to find help.
Ms Goninan’s emotional message to kids is that it’s not their fault, and that it’s important to tell someone.
In addition, the website includes several video interviews with professionals from the Child Protection Unit at Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network who speak about cases of child abuse they have dealt with. These stories help to drive home several key messages to children, such as:
- there is help out there;
- these issues are not something children are expected to deal with on their own
- it’s not your fault;
- there are many forms of child abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual and neglect.
Reports, facts and statistics are included under ‘Resources’ to give website users broader information on child abuse in Australia and its prevalence.
In NSW, anyone with concerns regarding the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child, young person or unborn child is encouraged to contact Child Protection Helpline on 132 111, or in the event of an emergency 000.
National helpline numbers include Kids Helpline, Lifeline, 1800 RESPECT, Bravehearts Information and Support Line, Translating and Interpreting Service, and Mensline. There is also contact information for the child protection agency in each state and territory, as well as information on Parentline Services in each state and territory.
The website features information for health professionals, with clear guidelines on what to do should you have concerns for the safety, welfare and wellbeing of a child, young person or unborn child, as well as information on how to support Indigenous children.
Medical professionals are not expected to respond to child abuse on their own. Chapter 16A of the NSW Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 requires professionals from different government and non-government agencies working with children and families, as well as private health professionals, to collaborate in service delivery to promote child safety welfare and wellbeing. It also allows you to share information with other service providers without breaching privacy.
Visit the Stop the Clock website for more information.