New Art Competition puts kids voices front and centre 

By Anita Sulentic, 18 June 2024
Image: Shutterstock


Each year, for Safe Parishes Week, our Safeguarding, Prevention, Healing & Support Team pulls out all the stops to ensure our people and parishes are the safest places possible for children and adults at risk.  

The team is taking it a step further in 2024. Instead of only focusing on training initiatives and celebrating the work that our parishes do this Safe Parishes Week (3 -9 June) – which is still an important element this year – they are launching a new Art Competition for children and young people so we can ‘see’ and ‘hear’ their voices. 

The Art Competition is open to anyone between the ages of 5 and 19 years and seeks to uncover, through art, what makes them feel safe.  

Conceived by Maria Kervin, Manager for Prevention, Healing and Support at the Diocese, the Art Competition is the next evolution of engaging all people in the Diocese in Safeguarding matters.   

“Safeguarding training is a mandatory exercise for all paid staff, clergy, and volunteers in ministry who come into contact with children and vulnerable people,” said Maria.   

“Our training obviously focuses on how to keep children and vulnerable people safe. But we rarely hear directly from them. This Art Competition seeks to understand what makes them feel safe and how we can respond directly to that. We also want children and young people to participate in the decisions that directly affect them.

“Our Art Competition is the first of its kind for our Diocese and will allow young people to creatively express what makes them feel safe, in a way that they might not have the words for.” 

The competition is open from 17 June to Friday 26 July 2024 and there will be a winner in each category: Primary (aged 5 – 10 years), Secondary (11 – 15 years) and Young Adults (16 -19 years). The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony held during National Child Protection Week in September, which has the theme “Every conversation matters”.

“Our Art Competition perfectly aligns with the theme for National Child Protection Week this year,” said Maria.  

“We have been working with colleagues across the Diocese – from teachers in our Catholic Schools, SRE Catechists in our public schools, to educators in our daycare centres. Everyone is excited to see what our young people come up with.” 

“While it is our inaugural Art Competition and Awards ceremony, we are hoping to build on this each year to not only showcase the incredible artworks of our young people but to also find new ways to engage with children and provide them with age-appropriate safeguarding information and material,” said Maria.  

The winning entries will be displayed for all to see and potentially developed further into a logo or artwork to promote future Art Competitions. These logos could also become an easily recognisable symbol where children and young people can find age-appropriate resources should they feel unsafe. 

All the information is found on our website, including the criteria for entry, the judges and very importantly, the prize.  

Please visit for more information.   

This article was originally published in the 2024 Ordinary Time | Winter edition of the Catholic Outlook Magazine. You can read the digital version here or pick up a copy in your local parish.


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