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Imagine a world where every child is protected from harm. Where they have a safe place to learn and grow. We believe it’s possible.

Growing up in a loving and caring environment gives children the best start in life. Knowing they’re safe and supported, children can focus on their studies, participate in their communities and grow up to reach their full potential.  

But did you know that three out of four children around the world experience violent discipline at home or in school – places where they should be most protected. Then there are the devastating numbers, where globally, one in three girls and one in five boys are sexually abused by the time they’re 18, with children in humanitarian settings being particularly vulnerable.

Here at UNICEF, we’re working to prevent and respond to violence against children in all its forms by supporting community-led programs and strengthening local welfare systems and legal frameworks to the benefit of all children. And we won’t stop until every child is safe and protected from harm.

Lady and her child in Papua New Guinea©UNICEF Australia/Simons

Meet Wasna from Papua New Guinea

Wasna is a 25-year-old mother with six children who used to gamble a lot and hit and shout at her children. But after a UNICEF-supported positive parenting program taught Wasna that violence could affect their emotional and cognitive development, she immediately started using new ways to discipline her children and communicate with them.

“I am so happy that I got the training, but I regret not knowing these things before. I am happy because I have improved myself and now, I want other parents to attend the program,” says Wasna.

We’re keeping children safe from harm

From Cambodia and Laos to Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste, UNICEF Australia is working to keep children safe. We do this through community-led programs that shift harmful norms and attitudes, such as our Positive Parenting Program.

3,300

children reached through UNICEF Australia supported child protection projects in Asia Pacific in 2021.

3 in 4

children around the world experience violent discipline at home or in school.

Who we work with

We also work with our partners and local Governments to strengthen community services and legal frameworks that are designed to protect children, such as the social welfare workforce to ensure they deliver effective and adequate services. Just as importantly, when the need arises, we’re there in emergency settings, providing safe spaces for children, especially those who have been separated from their families. 

At a local level, UNICEF Australia is committed to supporting critical, underfunded programs, here in Australia and in our neighbouring countries; Cambodia, Laos, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Burundi, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Pacific Islands. This work is made possible thanks to generous supporters like you, as well as the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).

"Child protection is a really important area for UNICEF, because of the scale of the problem and the profound life-long emotional, cognitive and developmental effects that abuse has on a child."

Photo of Adrian De Giovanni
Adrian De Giovanni
Head of International Programs
Young Cambodian girl© UNICEF Cambodia/2020/Sea Sokho

Meet Sreyda, from Cambodia.

In Ratanakiri province of Cambodia, 19 per cent of teens aged 15-17 are affected by child marriage. Sreyda was one of them. At 15 years of age, Sreyda's mum wanted her to marry, which caused tension in her family.

After hearing about the Adolescent and Youth Reference Group in Ratanakiri province, Sreyda wanted to learn more. The group was established to strengthen the capacity of teens in communities and engage them to take action to prevent child marriage. The UNICEF-supported commune committee for women and children helped Sreyda explain to her mum the benefits of education for girls.

“In the future, I want to be a good teacher and I would like to help many indigenous children, especially my Kreung ethnic community,” says Sreyda.

Help us protect children from harm.

From the Asia Pacific region to Ukraine and Syria, we urgently need your help to protect the world's children from harm.

Child
© UNICEF/MENA2014–00067/ROMENZI