RuffTrack involved in It Takes A Village program looking out for at-risk kids

RIVERSTONE-based charity for youth-at-risk, RuffTrack, is spreading the message that 'it takes a village to raise a child' as part of a new campaign encouraging the community to help keep a lookout for vulnerable children.

The campaign is called It Takes A Village, and was launched by non-profit agencies BackTrack Youth Works - the local arm of which is RuffTrack - along with Fams and Adopt Change.

Community program: Hawkesbury youths involved in the RuffTrack not-for-profit program, which is calling on the community to keep a lookout for other youths-at-risk in our neighbourhood. Picture: David Graham

Community program: Hawkesbury youths involved in the RuffTrack not-for-profit program, which is calling on the community to keep a lookout for other youths-at-risk in our neighbourhood. Picture: David Graham

The campaign was created off the back of the pressure-cooker situations being caused in homes around NSW - in some instances threatening the safety of children - as a result of the COVID-19 economic upheaval.

"We're super proud of being part of the It Takes A Village campaign," said Farmer Dave Graham, who runs the RuffTrack program at his Riverstone farm.

"Keeping kids on the right path and safe, and keeping kids engaged in our community, is the responsibility of everyone in the village.

"RuffTrack is now an essential service in the Hawkesbury, making sure no kid gets left behind or falls through the cracks."

The joint campaign aimsto educate parents, neighbours and communities to keep an eye on vulnerable kids and families, and to encourage people to get the help they need.

Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services, Gareth Ward, said COVID-19 changed the way we do things, and that needed to include the approach to keeping young people safe.

"The last few months have been tough for the community, but it's been even tougher for those that are vulnerable," said Mr Ward.

"That's why the NSW Government is partnering with the not-for-profit sector to get the message out that we all need to look out for vulnerable children, and we all have a responsibility to help keep them safe."

Founder of BackTrack Youth Works, Bernie Shakeshaft, said we all have a responsibility to keep kids safe.

"I've heard it said that children are the best barometer of how we're tracking as a society. We all have a role to play in growing happy healthy kids and need to do much more if we are to ensure kids are safe and supported," Mr Shakeshaft said.

"Now more than ever we need to keep an eye out for young people doing it tough - and step up if they need a hand."

The campaign will run for four weeks and will encourage everyone to play a role in keeping our kids safe - whether it is making that difficult phone call, checking in with your neighbour or signing up to become a foster carer.

For more information, visit www.keepingkidssafe.org.au.

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