CONVERSATION STARTERS: Sistas in Sync members hope the restoring dignity forum will encourage the South Burnett to start talking.
CONVERSATION STARTERS: Sistas in Sync members hope the restoring dignity forum will encourage the South Burnett to start talking. Jessica McGrath

Forum aims to start the conversation

SISTAS In Sync's seminar may be the start of a conversation around the South Burnett.

The forum, 'Restoring dignity and hope in a sexualised culture,' brought South Burnett residents together to hear from guest speakers on Saturday, June 2.

Sistas in Sync member Lynda Lange said they hoped the forum would only be the beginning of the conversation around pornography.

"We feel it's not a nice topic, but it's overwhelmingly important that we start to talk about it, because it's causing so much havoc and pain in people's lives," she said.

One of the guest speakers, Citywomen Toowoomba CEO Letitia Shelton spoke about their campaign to make Toowoomba a city free from porn.

"It's an education campaign to the public, to help them see the damage it does to families, how it kills love and destroys a lot of marriages," Mrs Lange said.

"Ideally we'd love to see our own region address it and start talking about it, as there's no doubt it's everywhere, because everywhere the internet is, you've got a problem."

Member Jenny Hoare said the forum reinforced to her the need to have the conversation about porn.

"Just to have the conversation even with children, you don't have to mention the word, but we can just ask them about what are good pictures and bad pictures," she said.

Porn can seem a normal thing for young people with mass media, so it is important to know what is and is not normal, Mrs Hoare said.

Managing director of Real Talk International Paul Ninnes told the seminar attendees it is not if a kid sees porn, but when.

The average age to first see porn is 11, he said.

Destiny Rescue representative Renee Chopping said a brief viewing can skew a child's world view and alter their capacities for relationships.

We need to practice the art of asking questions of what we are seeing and how it affects us, she said.

Equipping children to make good choices, especially with their online viewing is important, Ms Chopping said.

"With the internet readily available, children need to know what is safe."

She told attendees about a child abduction which started through social media interactions.

A 2017 Australian Psychological study revealed 15 per cent of teenagers reported being contacted by strangers daily and 10 per cent of these responded.

It also reported there were 8000 cases of child exploitation in Australia during 2016.

"The easiest tool to put in the hands of our kids is the practise of critical reflection, deciding for themselves what's helpful and what's harmful," Ms Chopping said.