A series of crisp white t-shirts pegged up along the front fence of Gembrook Preschool last week each told their own unique but important story.
Taking fabric markers to their shirts, 34 Gembrook Preschoolers aged between four and five each drew pictures of something that makes them feel safe and happy at home as part of the kindergartens ‘Clothesline Project’.
The Clothesline Project was created in recognition of White Ribbon Day on 20 November. White Ribbon Day is held each year and is intended to raise awareness and commit to action to prevent family violence.
Kindergarten Teacher and Educational Leader at Gembrook Preschool, Kim Busacca said the kinder team used the opportunity to talk with children about what makes them feel safe and happy at home.
“Obviously White Ribbon day brings attention to family violence but as a topic it is a little overwhelming to young children, so we modify the message to make it more age appropriate,” she explained.
The children drew pictures of things that bring them joy, including their babysitters, their parents, their friends and their pets. They are also recorded saying to their teachers what makes them feel good within their family dynamic.
“Some said they feel warm or they feel special,” Ms Busacca said.
“One child said, ‘I feel safe when my dog Duke is by my side’, and even though that’s not specifically family violence it’s still him understanding his own feelings and helps children to understand the difference between when they feel good and when they don’t feel safe,” she said.
“Our intention is to convey that we want children to feel safe within their families. Cardinia Shire has high reported rates of family violence so we feel, as a community organisation, that we have a responsibility to communicate positive messages.
Statistics from the Crime Statistics Agency show family violence incidents in Cardinia are on the rise, up 15.9 percent from the previous year, with 1,527 reported instances between July 2019 and June 2020.
The children’s families went along and looked at the drawings with the children after classes finished, and community members from Gembrook also commented on the cause.
“I had a phone call from a community member saying I’ve just driven past and didn’t have time to stop but asked all about it. Which is good, it means the community are hearing that message,” Ms Busacca said.
The children yesterday wore their t-shirts through the Gembrook township, delivered awareness brochures to local shops and enjoyed a picnic in the park in an attempt to raise as much awareness as possible in their local community.