Education a university for the real world


21 June 2018

A new free QUT online course will be launched in July to help teachers understand their role as protectors and how to identify and report different types of child abuse and neglect.

The short course, Child Protection for Teachers, was developed by Professor Kerryann Walsh, from QUT’s Faculty of Education, who has researched the topic at QUT for 15 years.

Offered as a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), it can be completed in two one-hour sessions by teachers anywhere in Australia – or around the world – from July 16.

The course was developed partly in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which included eight recommendations specifically for schools.

“I wanted an up-to-date resource to be freely available with high-quality information for teachers everywhere,” Professor Walsh said.

She said teachers were in an ideal position to identify and respond to child abuse and neglect.

“Teachers are in constant contact with children. Their students’ ability to learn depends significantly on their physical and emotional safety and wellbeing,” she said.

“Recent data show that approximately one in 32 children in Australia receive child protection services, which is about one child in every classroom – although we know that in some vulnerable communities this rate will be much higher. We also know that many cases go unreported, meaning the true prevalence would be higher still.

Professor Kerryann Walsh.

“In our new short course, teachers and school staff will learn about how child abuse and neglect affects children’s learning, why abuse occurs, and how to recognise signs of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect.

“The effects of abuse and neglect can manifest differently for different children and can include aggression towards peers, a lack of empathy, low frustration tolerance, seeming disinterest in school activities, hyper-vigilance disruptive and antisocial behaviours, or even withdrawal.

“The Royal Commission delivered eight recommendations specifically for schools, and many others with implications for schools. This course will help address these recommendations, but it takes an even broader approach as it’s designed to advance teachers’ understanding of all forms of child maltreatment – physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.

“As an educator I believe education and training are absolutely essential features of child safe organisations.”

Professor Walsh’s passion for child protection began when she was an early childhood teacher on a multidisciplinary child abuse treatment team for an organisation now known as Act for Kids.

“My experiences there laid the foundation for everything I have done since,” she said.

“I’ve done a lot of research with teachers and school staff about the various aspects of their child protection role. Recently, I was an academic advisor to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and also worked on an audit of school policy and curriculum for child sexual abuse prevention.

“Everything I do is underpinned by the idea that teachers can make a difference.”

The first offering of Child Protection for Teachers will run from July 16 on the FutureLearn online learning site.  It is free to complete within a four-week time frame, with participants also able to upgrade for $79 if they want access over an unlimited time frame and a certificate of achievement.

The short course will also be offered again in blocks starting October 15 and January 21.

Visit the QUT Faculty of Education website for more professional development offerings for educators.

Other free short courses developed by QUT's Faculty of Education.

QUT Media contacts:
- Mechelle McMahon,
- Rose Trapnell, or 0407 585 901 (including after hours)


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