Paris McMahon

Paris is a highly motivated individual who has spent the past several years volunteering in several areas that focus on assisting the Canberra community. She established her own charity A Little Hand in 2014 to fundraise for Hands Across Canberra. She has also provided significant volunteer assistance to Global Schools Partners, helping young girls in Kenya receive an education. More recently, Paris has been the Young Thinker in Residence for the ACT Human Rights Commission, where she shares her views as a young person, develops projects and writes opinion pieces in addition to contributing to government forums. Paris is in Year 11 at Canberra Grammar School.

By Young People, For Young People – speaking out about safety

Much of the current thinking about and approaches to child safety flow from adult notions of what we would like to protect children from. In this instance, ‘adults’ can mean people working with children and young people or parents and family members. In contrast however, most young people are able to understand the ideas of threat and protective behaviours, even if they are do not always know how to protect themselves. They are also likely to have an individual concept of what ‘safety’ means for them and how this might be achieved. Greater appreciation of the world as it looks and feels to young people and the personal frameworks they use to understand the nature of risk and threat must help us design and implement effective organisational strategies to give young people a ‘safe place’.

This panel session will be facilitated by a young person who will engage other young people in a conversation about their individual perspectives; their concepts of safety, examples of times and situations which have made them feel unsafe and what would have made those situations feel safer and more comfortable for them. Panel members will bring a diversity of personal experiences, study backgrounds, skill sets and cultural heritage. Delegates will gain unique insights into what safety is, and feels like, for these young people and hear in their own words what has and hasn’t helped to keep them safe from abuse in organisations and government systems.



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