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New Bravehearts program 'a pilot': govt

AAP logoAAP 6/09/2016 Jamie McKinnell

A new early-intervention program by Queensland child protection group Bravehearts to curb rates of child sex abuse perpetrated by children could be adopted statewide.

The self-funded program, Turning Corners, offers one-on-one and group therapy to address alarming statistics showing between 30 and 60 per cent of childhood sex assault is committed by other young people.

Bravehearts founder and chair Hetty Johnston said families were being torn apart with nowhere to turn when a young member displayed inappropriate sexual behaviour.

"These early intervention programs can work for young people, there is hope there," she said at the launch on Tuesday.

"These children who are perpetrating this harm cannot be demonised."

Ms Johnston said the instances of harm covered "the whole gamut of behaviours" from early signs for concern to actual rape and occurred in schools or even daycare centres.

"There is a cry for this service out there and we just couldn't ignore it anymore," she said.

"We are being inundated already."

The program is a fee-for-service initiative that addresses a current gap in support networks.

Child safety minister Shannon Fentiman announced the government would provide $50,000 for an evaluation of the work with a view to replicating it statewide.

"We see this as a fantastic pilot to look at how we can intervene earlier to break the cycle of abuse," she said.

"Traditionally in Queensland we have seen a real under-investment in perpetrator and behavioural change programs."

Australian Federal Police commander Sharon Cowden said the volume and velocity of reports about the sexual exploitation of children were unfortunately on the increase.

The AFP received 11,000 reports in this year alone.

"The images in these reports are unspeakable," she said.

"It's difficult to find words to describe these heinous and inhumane acts on the most vulnerable in our society.

"The AFP believes that self-protection through education and empowerment is the key for children to protect themselves against threatening situations."

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