A landmark national ad campaign aimed at encouraging adults to have sensitive conversations with young people about child sexual abuse will hit TV screens and social media from Sunday night, in what advocates say is a critical step in raising awareness.
The ‘One Talk at a Time’ campaign features three scenarios of adults gently raising the topic with children, as a way of proactively identifying behaviours such as unwanted touching, inappropriate talk or solicitation of photos as something that is not OK, even if it comes from family or friends.
The federal government is spending $22.4 million on the initiative, which it says is the first national campaign of its kind aimed at preventing child sexual abuse. It will run in mainstream media and online platforms until mid-2024.
Child safety campaigner Bruce Morcombe, who with wife Denise established the Daniel Morcombe Foundation after their son was abducted and murdered in 2003, said the move was a “tremendous step forward” in developing national policy to protect children.
“Denise and I have, for the best part of two decades as child safety advocates, been pushing state-by-state and federally the message that we need national standards – key messaging that is standardised right across the country. This is the first step forward in allowing that to happen,” he said.
The ads feature a combination of actors and animation, with the animation kicking in at the complex point of the discussion, such as when an older brother tells his younger sibling: “You know nobody should ever ask you to send pictures of yourself.”
Longtime child protection advocate Hetty Johnston said the campaign was powerful and poignant, likening the messaging to a “sledgehammer covered in a feather duster”.
“We need to have this conversation and yet it’s such a difficult message to get across without triggering and upsetting people. I think they’ve found the line just exquisitely,” she said. “It is saying to all our survivors everywhere, we should have listened to you, and we need to listen now.”