White Balloon Day: Give vulnerable children a voice to prevent abuse and neglect

Greens spokesperson for Child Protection Hon Alison Xamon MLC has renewed her call for the establishment of an independent child advocacy service to better protect children from harm, to mark today's White Balloon Day.

Ms Xamon said child abuse was entirely preventable – and protecting children was a whole-of-community responsibility.

She said the latest figures from National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) showed more than 35,000 Australian children were abused or neglected in 2017.

“More than 35,000 children in one year is a staggering amount,” Ms Xamon said.

“I echo the NAPCAN’s concerns that child abuse and neglect is one of the greatest barriers and threats to the wellbeing of Australian children, young people and the next generation of children and adults.”

Ms Xamon said lack of a comprehensive system of independent oversights for children in out of home care remained a glaring gap in WA’s child protection system.

She said while the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Colin Petit, was responsible for some excellent work, his role was limited by legislation and the inability to take individual complaints, while HaDSCO and the Ombudsman were not set up for children, particularly those who are vulnerable.

“We need somewhere vulnerable children can go when they have concerns about their care – particularly in youth justice detention; police custody; residential care; secure or foster care, or in educational institutions,” Ms Xamon said.

“They need an avenue and an advocate.

“Children rely on adults to protect them – we must make sure we put in place all the mechanisms which will ensure this happens.”


  • White Balloon Day, an initiative from Australia’s child protection organisation Bravehearts, aims to break the silence around child sexual abuse
  • An estimated 1 in 5 children are sexually harmed before they turn 18
  • More than 1.5 million women and almost 412,000 men in Australia experience sexual assault before they turn 15 – the majority know their abuser
  • The effects of child abuse last a lifetime and can increase the risks of homelessness; disengagement from education; unemployment; physical and mental health issues; substance abuse
  • There are just under 5000 children in out of home care in WA; more than half of whom are Aboriginal
  • 380 are in residential care and 150 are in youth justice detention