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Polished Man Campaign

The Hon. J.A. DARLEY (16:00): I rise today to speak about the Polished Man campaign that aims to end violence against children for good. This October marks the fifth year that this campaign has raised awareness about violence against children and encouraged donations to fund trauma prevention and recovery programs. Sadly, throughout the world one child dies every five minutes as a result of violence. This is unacceptable. Every child deserves the right to enjoy a safe and happy childhood, and this right is acknowledged specifically this week during Children's Week.

The Polished Man movement was established by Elliott Costello after a visit to Hagar International in Cambodia. Hagar International is an organisation dedicated to the recovery of women and children who have endured extreme abuses. It was there that Elliott met a young girl named Thea. Despite the language barrier, Elliott was able to bond with this young girl by playing noughts and crosses for hours one afternoon. During this time, Thea painted Elliott's fingernails blue. The following day, Elliott learnt that Thea had been physically and sexually assaulted on a daily basis for two years by the director of the orphanage. Upon discovering this, Elliott made a decision to paint one of his nails to remember Thea.

After Elliott's experience meeting Thea, he learnt about the epidemic of child abuse across the world and the fact that overwhelming evidence indicates that the majority of sexual abuse is perpetrated by males. Upon learning the statistics, he established the Polished Man initiative and encouraged individuals, especially men, to paint their nails to spark conversations about this issue and raise funds for this worthy cause. The Polished Man movement does not seek to blame men. Rather, it encourages men to unite and lead by example. It aims to empower individuals to become change-makers in today's society. Both men and women can contribute and become involved in this campaign.

I would like to take this time to acknowledge one outstanding contributor to this cause. At just 11 years of age, Jackson Saunders is the lead fundraiser of the Polished Man initiative, currently raising a total of $56,479. From a young age, Jackson had a passion for helping others. When he was eight years old he would always intervene at school when he witnessed another child being bullied. This led to Jackson becoming a victim of bullying. This was a difficult time in Jackson's life, and he confided in his mum that he was thinking about ending his life. His mum took immediate action in seeking professional help for Jackson, moved him to another school and encouraged him to continue his passion for helping others by focusing on charity work.

Jackson felt instantly connected with the Polished Man campaign in knowing that he was contributing to a cause that would have a positive impact upon a child. Participating in this campaign has helped Jackson immensely. I commend Jackson for his efforts in not only raising awareness for this cause and a significant amount of money but also for his amazing personal growth during a very difficult time in his life.

Although the Polished Man campaign discusses violence against children on a global scale, it is important to note that this issue is also a widespread problem in Australia. During the 2016-17 financial year, one in 32 children received child protection services. As individuals we can always do more, so I invite everyone to become involved in some way during this campaign this October, whether it is painting one nail to spark a conversation, setting up your own fundraising page or donating to an existing one.