I rise to congratulate the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC on the motion before this council. I would like to reiterate the enormous importance of protecting all children from sexual assault. Beyond our support, we must acknowledge and bring awareness to the shocking pain and suffering endured by those who have been subjected to sexual assault in their lives. White Balloon Day is a campaign raising awareness of the crime of child sexual assault, encouraging our community to take an active role in protecting children. Most importantly, White Balloon Day encourages survivors of child sexual assault to speak out and break their silence.
The first official White Balloon Day was held in 1997. It is astonishing that just two years later, senior police revealed a staggering 514 per cent increase in disclosures of child sexual assault to Queensland police headquarters, labelling the White Balloon Day campaign a phenomenon. With such enormous figures, it is important that we recognise that historical child sexual assault crimes are no less heinous than those which are current. We must strive to support those who have been living and battling daily with the lasting psychological and physical effects of such soulless crimes.
Sadly, as a result of the stigma surrounding child sexual assault, many who have been subjected to these awful acts do not come forward. They fear not being heard, not being believed, or being perceived as damaged by the experiences they have endured. Child sexual assault, whether it be current or past, is an atrocious and unforgivable crime. Adequate penalties must be applied to perpetrators of these offences. We all need to do everything we can to raise awareness to support and protect our children. I commend the mover and the motion.