24 October 2013
A computer game aimed at preventing child sexual abuse will be launched at the University of the Sunshine Coast as part of the annual Day for Daniel tomorrow (Friday 25 October).
The free game, called Orbit, was created as part of an educational package developed by USC researchers in partnership with the Telstra Foundation, Queensland Police Service (QPS) and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.
Orbit will be launched at USC’s Innovation Centre auditorium at 9.45am, immediately after the annual Walk for Daniel.
The launch will be attended by Daniel Morcombe Foundation founders Bruce and Denise Morcombe and will include the opportunity to try out the game. It will be MC-ed by the children whose voices are featured in the game and by one of the animated characters.
The space-themed, interactive game – which can be found at www.orbit.org.au – has been designed for use in classrooms to help children aged 8-10 learn how to be safe from sexual abuse. It features a range of activities that help build confidence, well-being and problem-solving skills.
Associate Professor of Interactive Digital Media Christian Jones heads USC’s Engage Research Lab, which developed Orbit with assistance from psychology experts at the University and through trialling the game at Siena Catholic Primary School and Chancellor State College.
Dr Jones said the free package for schools came with lesson plans and support materials for teachers that reinforced key learnings from the game.
“When we trialled Orbit in schools, we saw that the children really enjoyed playing the game and learnt important messages about sexual abuse prevention,” he said.
Orbit has been strongly backed by the Morcombes, whose 13-year-old son Daniel was abducted and murdered on the Sunshine Coast in 2003.
The couple actively promoted the game during a 20,000km national child safety road tour through every state and territory that ended this week.
“An important aspect of the Orbit program is the way it helps young people to identify a group of adults they can turn to on their safety helper network who will listen and help,” Denise said.
Bruce said the Daniel Morcombe Foundation unreservedly supported the adoption of the Orbit program into every primary school in Australia.
"Engaging children in an online game to appreciate their personal safety is the way forward,” he said. “We all know it is the educational platform children enjoy.”
QPS Sunshine Coast District Superintendent Maurice Carless said he welcomed the Orbit program after having seen the heart-breaking impact of child sexual abuse.
“Trials show that this new initiative has the potential to make a difference and make the world a safer place for Australian children,” he said.
Dr Jones was the recipient of a QPS Gold Award for Crime Prevention in 2009 for his work in creating an online computer game to help children avoid abduction.
This game, Being Safety Smart, was developed in collaboration with the QPS and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, and is now being used in schools across Queensland to boost the personal safety knowledge of children aged 6-8.
— Terry Walsh