Lynne Mowbray White Balloon Day is an annual event as part of national Child Protection week and was held around the country on Friday, September 11. Communities around the Clarence Valley came together to draw awareness to the safety and protection of our children and to work together within our community, towards making Australia a safer place for our children. The aim of this event is the raise awareness and raise funds to protect children – specifically against sexual abuse. Organiser of the Iluka event Mulan Matthews-Haddrell (along with fellow organiser Aleisha McEwen) said that they wanted to get involved, as the statics in Australia a first world country are horrendous, one in five children shall be sexually harmed before they turn 18. “It’s something that many suffer from for years in silence and sometimes all their lives,” she said. “We wanted to raise awareness in our area to make it a safer place. Through educating our children about this issue we hope they feel empowered to say NO and tell someone so it protects them. “We encouraged all homes to place a balloon on their letterbox for White Balloon Day to raise awareness in our community and the support was amazing. “We also ran a competition for best decorated Home & Business to try and raise funds for www.bravehearts.org.au who provided education for schools, protection and rehabilitation for survivors of sexual abuse. “Iluka Primary School P&C purchased a balloon for each child to place on their letterbox and the students were encouraged to wear white on Friday 11th, to raise awareness. “Iluka Preschool decorated a large sign for their front gate and children were also given a white balloon for the day. “Aleisha McEwen and I were overwhelmed by the support from the community for this day and are already planning for next year, the 20th year of White Balloon Day. “We are looking for other options rather than balloons for next year. “We raised close to $400 for Bravehearts and we hope that we are helping to make Australia a safer place to raise children,” said Ms Matthews-Haddrell.