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Half a world away on the same road: 90by30's Australian counterparts

Lesley Taylor, Richard Cooke, and Teresa Scott from NAPCAN

Did you know Lane County is .1 percent the size of Australia? Before you whip that fact out at your next party, you might want some context. The College of Education's 90by30 program is a grassroots effort to reduce child abuse in Lane County 90 percent by 2030. If that seems optimistic, imagine trying to achieve similar aims with about as many people in a place 1,000 times the size with 64 times the population. That's what a group of people at Australia's National Association for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) face, but that's only part of the reason why 90by30's Jeff Todahl and Phyllis Barkhurst were so grateful that NAPCAN sent three representatives to their annual conference this past April. Mainly it's because they've been at this for 27 years and are excited to share best practices that will help 90by30 reach its goal with greater haste. The cool accents are just a bonus.

Richard Cooke, NAPCAN's chief executive officer; Teresa Scott, president of the board; and Lesley Taylor, Northern Territory manager, flew halfway around the world to share with Lane County what works and what doesn't when it comes to systematically reducing child abuse on a large scale. Their funding model is quite different, with 2/3 coming from state and federal governments and 1/3 coming from foundations. By contrast, 90by30 relies almost entirely on private funding.

"This is a reciprocal relationship that's happened," said Scott. "I think our vision is absolutely the same; what you're doing at a county level we're doing at a national level. Every one of us has a part to play in caring for children."

Taylor's work in the Northern Territory is particularly analogous to 90by30, as she is involved in the business of engaging communities as well. To that end, NAPCAN has built a framework called Play Your Part (PYP). In addition to being an eponymous campaign, PYP helps connect, inspire, and equip administrators, volunteers, and the communities they serve.

"I have never experienced an audience so determined to make a difference," she said. "There was such an openness to learn, plus just for people to come in on a Saturday was quite different in my experience. I was really inspired by that, and it bodes well for the potential of 90by30."

Jeff Todahl, co-director of CPAN and a professor in couples and family therapy, was thrilled to tap into NAPCAN's knowledge and expose his 90by30 volunteers to an established program.

"So much of what we do and what we believe in 90by30 mirrors the work that NAPCAN has been doing for almost three decades," Todahl said. "We're so grateful for the blueprint they've helped give us - it's exciting to see what our effort might look like down the road if we can adapt their approach to Lane County."

Taylor echoed this sentiment, adding that they were "completely charmed by the kindness and generosity of 90by30 staff, colleagues and volunteers."

The Aussies were scheduled to attend last year's 90by30 conference but regrettably had to cancel at the last minute, they kept their promise to return and spent the better part of a week in and around Eugene, bouncing between meetings while trying to squeeze in the occasional bit of Northwest food and culture. If you asked Taylor, she might say the Pizookies from BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse alone were worth the trip.

"They're dangerous," she said. "I had several."