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Community members encouraged to make the pledge ahead of White Balloon Day

By Liz Mellino

Child protection advocate Bravehearts has called on Shepparton community members to pledge their support for children ahead of White Balloon Day next month.

Now in its 23rd year, the annual event is the charity's signature fundraising and awareness initiative, encouraging Australians to work together to protect children from sexual assault.

With this year's White Balloon Day being held on Friday, September 6, Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston has called on community members to sign the online pledge.

"They say it takes a village to raise a child and the same goes for protecting them," Ms Johnston said.

"It is not enough for only parents and people who work with children to watch out for them. It doesn’t matter what one’s job is, we all have a responsibility to speak up if we see something that doesn’t seem right when it comes to children."

During the past 23 years Bravehearts has used White Balloon Day to inspire conversation about the topic, with community members being asked this year to formally declare they will act when it comes to protecting children.

Ms Johnston said if people made the pledge it allowed Bravehearts to show the government the number of Australians passionate about child protection.

"Child sexual assault and exploitation are horrific crimes but research shows talking about their prevalence, their impact and how to protect our children helps prevent them," she said.

To make the pledge visit www.whiteballoonday.com.au/pledge