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Pioneering child safe organisational change in Australia


14 July 2020 at 6:00 am
Contributor
The new managing director of Child Wise, Natalie Siegel-Brown, explains what attracted her to her new role and what her greatest hope is for the future of the organisation.


Contributor | 14 July 2020 at 6:00 am


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Pioneering child safe organisational change in Australia
14 July 2020 at 6:00 am

The new managing director of Child Wise, Natalie Siegel-Brown, explains what attracted her to her new role and what her greatest hope is for the future of the organisation.

“You can have all the documents and policies in the world, but if you don’t have an organisation where kids are listened to – where they actually feel safe, then nothing else matters.” (Child Wise)

How do you create that culture? Getting kids to tell you how to play a role in shaping your operations is a key part. A lot of organisations see this as an ominous or overwhelming task. I love that Child Wise makes this completely achievable by working to ensure that an organisation’s policies are a whole lot more than just “policy”. This is what really puts weight behind giving children a real voice in any organisation that cares for, or interacts with them.

Why I gave up my role as the Queensland Public Guardian to lead Child Wise

Several people have asked me in recent weeks why I was giving up my role as the Queensland Public Guardian, which gave me the privilege and deep responsibility of giving a voice to Queensland’s most vulnerable children and adults. Well, it’s pretty simple really. The mission of Child Wise to grow a nation of organisations that genuinely listen and respond to children’s voices in every aspect of their decision-making, gives me an opportunity to make that impact on a national scale. 

I had always dreamed of working for an agency that walks the talk of prevention – and truly supports others to do so. And so here I finally find myself!

Pioneering child safe organisational change in Australia

Child Wise originated 25 years ago and pioneered child safe organisational change in this country. It is now a social enterprise of Save the Children, delivering child safety training, accreditation, coaching, consultancy, communities of practice and “Kids Speak” – a world first method of engaging and empowering children and young people to voice their opinion, provide feedback and participate in the organisations where they spend time. (You can read more at: www.childwise.org.au)

I am incredibly honoured to be leading a national organisation that has been an eminent voice on child rights in our region – the Asia Pacific. In fact, Child Wise was a founding member of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking), a global network of organisations and individuals working together to eliminate the abuse, trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and young people.

What has driven me more than anything throughout my career, whether as a director at PricewaterhouseCoopers or as Public Guardian, has been my passion for supporting others in their organisational and personal aspirations to ensure the safety of and build the confidence of the children they work with. 

close up of a child drawing

My greatest hope for the organisation and its position in child safety

My greatest hope is that the work of Child Wise will change the confidence and culture of so many organisations that the lives of the current generation of children and young people will be better than what went before them. Children will feel safer where they live, work and play. They will feel believed and listened to when they courageously speak up. Being a social enterprise of Save the Children means that our mission is furthered by Save the Children’s global goal of driving breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. And so, I believe the relationship with Save the Children will see us work together to grow more and more child safe organisations and communities in countries where children are not lucky enough to have the legislative and social mandate that we have in Australia. It’s this kind of impact that gets me jumping out of bed every morning.

Where is child safeguarding headed in Australia?

We still have a lot of work to do to engender a culture of child safety in workplaces right across the country. But ultimately, if we are serious about prevention, we need to address an uncomfortable question: Have we made any real progress in stopping people who have tendencies to use harmful behaviours against children, from carrying out that abuse? When it comes to people with sexually harmful behaviours, I think we will need a lot more leadership and action. That’s where the real inroads around prevention will be made. Some other parts of the world are ahead of the game on this. One day I dream of bringing this progress to Australia. But more on that later. Until then, I don’t just hope that we cross paths. I hope that our next conversation means that I can support you in your ambitions to change the world for our children too.

 

About Child Wise

Child Wise is a social enterprise of Save the Children. We work with organisations across Australia that provide services to children and young people to help them build a strong child safe culture and environment for children and young people in their care.

Child Wise is committed to the safety and wellbeing of all children. We are uncompromising in our purpose to protect children and young people from harm. We work with organisations of all sizes, across a range of different industries to achieve our mission. 

Our services:

  • Consulting – Child Wise can conduct a thorough review of your culture, policies and practices to help your organisation implement the highest child safe standards. We provide guidance at each stage of this process to help build your internal capacity to maintain a child safe environment into the future. 
  • Coaching – our coaching program works alongside leadership teams and/or child safety officers to enable them to strengthen the child safety capacity of their organisations.
  • Child Safety Training [face to face and online] – Through our awareness, prevention and early intervention training programs, Child Wise can equip your organisation with vital knowledge and skills to help keep children in your care safe from harm.
  • Child Wise Accreditation – We provide a visible and robust demonstration that your organisation has achieved and maintained best practice standards for protecting children and young people.
  • Child Wise Community of Practice – A membership based offering that aims to provide accessible information and support for Child Safety Officers or anyone whose role includes a focus on child safety within their organisation. 

To find out more about how Child Wise can help your organisation become a safe environment for children and young people, please call 1300 244 539 or email info@childwise.org.au.



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