The drum : the Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services magazine
Northern Territory Police, Fire and Emergency Services
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Northern Territory Government
The DRUM Magazine | August 2009 | 7 CATS Visit Utopia Northern Territory Police working in the Child Abuse Taskforce have taken to the road to educate people in remote communities about sexual assault. The program was the brainchild of Detective Sergeant Carmen Butcher head of the Child Abuse Taskforce, Southern. Carmen rounded up other stakeholders such as staff from FACS, the Womens Shelter, the Mobile Outreach Service and the police Domestic and Personal Violence Unit. We needed to develop a program which encouraged kids and made them feel safe. It needed to get the message home that it was alright to report sexual abuse and to identify the people they could safely talk to about it. To get this message across we had to go out and see the kids in their own environment and teach them how to trust us. As part of the program Carmen and her team used various resources such as story telling using SARCs book called No, no the Seal which is about inappropriate touching. We also used the model from the Kimberly Protective Behaviours Project where they trace their own hand and write on it where the places of safety are and who the five people are that you can trust, Carmen said. We talk about who will believe you and talk to you. We also used a child sexual assault video called Big Shame diagrams to illustrate good feelings and bad feelings which the kids colour in. We found if theyre colouring in or somehow involved in an activity theyll talk more and consequently its easier for us to get our message across. Carmen said the community acceptance and encouragement of the program had been extremely gratifying, as was the support the team received from the other agencies. The community response was excellent. They were really receptive and the teachers went out of their way to help us. They were really keen for us to do it and to continue doing it. We went to the Clinic School the first day where we saw approximately 20 to 25 children. In the afternoon we went to Soapy Bore Outstation School where we did a session with five boys and girls and a modified session with the younger ones on feelings. Then on Tuesday we went to Ampilatwatja where we had a morning session with approximately 30 junior and middle school students, and then we did an afternoon session with twenty senior boys and girls. Carmen said the plan was for the team to visit at least ten communities a year, and train police at these communities to continue reinforcing the message through education. The intent, of course, is to create community ownership of the problems of child abuse and domestic violence, so communities will identify with these issues and to encourage them to report it. Its to encourage the kids and make them understand that they can feel safe and its alright to talk about it. Carmen said the advantage of having a multi-agency team going to the remote communities was each agency could engage with the community from a different aspect of the situation. I think the kids and the other community members now have a far better understanding of the support systems in place after our visit. As far as the program is concerned, well continue to modify it as we feel the need, but I think overall it was a fantastic start and we really got through to the kids. For instance, we watched the reactions of the kids. These people are obviously very shy talking about things like this, but it makes them more comfortable discussing it among themselves. Then we just mingle amongst them and we actually get quite a lot of good information this way. Police from Taskforce Themis who are on the remote communities will be given the resource material and trained in its delivery to ensure an on-going commitment to the community. Carmen and her team now plan to visit the community of Mutitjulu to deliver their program at the invitation of the community. Hopefully this will be just as successful as the Utopia visit and will be just the next step in giving people the tools they need to eradicate sexual abuse and domestic violence in remote communities. Top During the program students are asked to trace their own hands and write five places of safety and five people they can talk to and trust. Above Students at Utopia proudly display their artwork during a recent program to teach the community about sexual assault support.