School Holiday Community Awareness

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School Holiday Community Awareness

Working with your Children to Identify a Network of Safe Places

Working with your children to identify a network of safe places is an important step in ensuring their wellbeing when they are out these school holidays. Ensure your children have a plan of action and know the location of safe places or people that they can go to if they feel they are in danger. Having a plan and knowing in advance where to go and who to contact can help your children react sooner and smarter if they find themselves in a frightening situation.

You may want to consider the following tips to help your children identify a network of safe places:

  • If at a shopping centre or other public place look for someone in a uniform.  This may be a person who is employed in a shop, it may be a Police Member or another emergency services worker.
  • Use the Recognise, React and Report method, more commonly known as the 3R’s.: Recognise an unsafe situation, React by getting away from the danger or from the situation, making noise or running and finding a safe place or person and Report if necessary.  Depending on the situation this may be to a parent, family or another trusted adult, it may even mean reporting it to Police on 000 or 131444

There are a number of activities you can do with your children to help them know who or where to go for safety. You could try tracing a hand and labelling each finger with a name or a place. Draw or print a map of your local area or the area in which the child will be that day and help them to highlight places of safety. The Triple Zero Kids' Challenge is also a fun interactive way to help your child recognise safe locations or places that are around most town centres.

The Daniel Morcome website also has some fantastic resources for parents and teachers.

Assisting your Child to Identify an Emergency and Know Who to Call 

It is important that your children know how to identify an emergency and also who to call if they find themselves in an emergency situation or are feeling unsafe. Children are typically educated at home, school and by local police to call 000 in an emergency and it is important that they understand what an emergency looks like and what is not necessarily an emergency. Have a discussion with your child surrounding when they may need to ring 000, what to expect when they call and what information may be required. We don’t want to deter children from calling 000, however in cases that are not urgent or life-threatening emergencies encourage them to talk with a trusted adult who can call Police Assistance on 131 444. For an easily accessible list of emergency contacts, download our Important Numbers Template and add the contacts of people you can call in an emergency and print to hang in your home, it may be handy to laminate and put next to your home phone or stick on the fridge for constant visibility and familiarity.

A great way to practice identifying an emergency is through the use of the Triple Zero Kids’ Challenge, which is an interactive game where children deal with scenarios and solve problems, it helps to identify what is an emergency, what is a safe place and what to expect if they need to speak with emergency services or 000 call takers. You could also have your family create some role plays to act out together, showing various emergencies and having the children identify the course of action required and answer questions they may be asked by emergency services either over the phone or in person.    

Keeping your Family Safe Online

Online safety is a prominent issue for today’s youth, and it is important to speak with your children about the potential risks and how to stay safe online. We don’t want to discourage children from using the internet but rather to give them the tools and knowledge to keep themselves and their information safe, to make good decisions about what is shared, to be respectful online and how to deal with any potential problems if they arise. This extends not only to our children, but our entire family and community.

There are some important topics you can cover while chatting to your children about staying safe online: 

  • Passwords – Passwords need to be strong, updated regularly and not shared with friends. It is a good idea for children to share their passwords with their parents so parents are able to monitor their children's online interaction and use. A passphrase in an especially strong way to create a password, it includes four random words that mean something only to you, this is proven to be very effective in reducing accounts being hacked. Remember to also avoid using personal information like name, DOB, family names, pets etc.
  • Read the terms and conditions set out in Apps, know what you or your family are signing up to. There are often lots of disclaimers in there, some apps can use your images and posts for all sorts of things such as marketing, research etc.
  • Ensure privacy settings are high and set to private, this avoids information being viewed by anyone and protects your privacy
  • Ensure followers or friends on social media are only people you know personally 
  • Remind your child about respectful relationships, it’s okay to say ‘no’ if they don’t feel comfortable or know something is wrong. Know others' boundaries and respect their choices and feelings. Don’t give in to pressure and also don’t pressure others.
  • In relation to sending images the message is 'think before you send.'  Some images of children may be illegal and considered to be child pornography. Once these images are sent, it can be very difficult to control who else receives it and can be hard to contain once shared. The sharing and storing of these particular images is a criminal offence.
  • Avoid sharing photos or post that give away too much information about yourself and your location. Think about photos showing school uniforms, street signs, addresses, etc.
  • Never meet people you have only spoken to online as not everyone is who they say they are and this can be very dangerous. Make your child aware of the types of people who can contact them online and discuss the concept of ‘grooming.'

Cyberbullying is very common amongst our young people. Talk with your children about what bullying is and how they can deal with it. We encourage block, delete and reporting of any person who is bullying, harassing or asking personal or inappropriate questions. Re-enforce to your children that help is always available, nothing is so big that you cannot tell someone. There are numerous places children can turn to for help, information, reporting and resources, including parents and teachers, Police, other trusted adults, ThinkUKnow, Office of the E-Safety Commissioner, ACORN, Lifeline, Beyond Blue and Headspace

If you are interested in a ThinkUKnow presentation, contact your child's school, association/club or workplace and have them book a session at the ThinkUKnow website.

Bicycle Security

To reduce the chances of your child being a victim of bike theft, consider the following crime prevention security tips:

  • Purchase and fit a good quality bike lock
  • When leaving your bike in a public space always park and secure your bike in well-lit and populated areas, seek out either a designated bike rack or shed which are around most public areas. Lock the bike frame and both wheels to a secure object
  • When at home, ensure your bike is safely secured in a shed or to an unmoveable object.  Leaving things such as bikes in plain view of the public might make it a target for thieves.
  • Engrave, mark or use a UV pen to write your Driver Licence number in a place that won’t be affected by sweat, water or heat.  If engraving we recommend engraving near the serial number under the bike frame.
  • Take a photo of your bike and complete the Bike Passport.  It is important for this to be completed as if your bike is stolen you have all the details required for reporting it to the Police.  Often people are unaware of makes, models and serial numbers, without these details, it’s very hard to ascertain if your bike has been located by Police and it is also difficult for Police to return your property as we have no proof of ownership.
  • Once you’ve completed your bike passport, store it in a safe place with other important documents, warranty’s etc.
  • Avoid leaving other equipment with your bike such as your helmet, clothing or drink bottles


Child Safety When Home Alone 

Over the school holidays it is especially important that children are aware of the rules, expectations and boundaries when staying at home alone. Whilst every family will have their own unique set of rules and expectations, these are some that you may like to consider:

  • Remind children to lock doors, stay inside and not go to parks or other public places alone.  If outings are planned, ensure children are going with a group of friends or family
  • Maintain regular contact with your children and advise your neighbour that they are home alone
  • Ensure children know who to call in an emergency or if they feel unsafe.  Bring the Important Contacts list to their attention and ensure to show them where it is located within the home
  • Prepare your children for the possibility of phone calls, and what information is safe to provide, e.g.: not disclosing that they are home alone, where they live or engaging in conversations with strangers. Remind them about the sharing of any personal details.
  • Have a plan for if someone comes to the door, this could include a ‘safety word’ for trusted people who may come over.