OAM winner Holly Brennan with her children (from left) Zac, 11, Tyne, 7, and Jordan, 8, at home on the Sunshine Coast.
OAM winner Holly Brennan with her children (from left) Zac, 11, Tyne, 7, and Jordan, 8, at home on the Sunshine Coast. Geoff Potter

Child advocate awarded OAM

ONE very special Australia Day award winner was flying under the radar in Noosa on January 26 - much like the confronting but all-important work Holly Brennan does to help protect our children.

Ms Brennan, the chair of Queensland Child Protection Week who has worked closely with the Daniel Morcombe Foundation and Bravehearts, was awarded the Order of Australia Medal "for service to the community through organisations promoting the welfare and rights of children".

But she managed to deflect much of the attention outside her friends and family by putting down her address simply as Queensland.

The 42-year-old mother of three, who is the research and program development manager of Family Planning Queensland, has been living at Lake Weyba for the past six years while based at Maroochydore and Brisbane.

It took her proud mother Chris, of Sunrise Beach, to finally blow her "cover" on Friday and Ms Brennan admitted it was a wonderful feeling, given that the area of child welfare did not often attract such public awards.

"You hear some fairly grim stories in this line of work, so it's nice to share my happy story with others," said the former school teacher.

"Anyone who works with children or is around them knows the problems they are faced with growing up."

Her OAM award lists Ms Brennan as a sexuality educator of 21 years experience and her roles include speaking nationally and internationally on the sexualisation of young people.

"I get many phone calls from parents concerned about what sort of videos their children should be allowed to watch and that sort of thing," Ms Brennan said.

She knows that cloistering children away from life's realities is not the answer to developing healthy sexual development.

Among her many achievements are developing sexuality and relationships education programs, prevention of childhood sexual abuse programs, and authoring guides in this area.

She is the author of Everyone's Got A Bottom - a guide for adults to identify, assess and respond to sexual behaviours which cause concern in children and adolescents as well as a disability resource Every Body Needs to Know.

Ms Brennan said she developed her special interest in helping young people long before she had her own kids aged between seven and 11.

"Certainly being a (child) carer helps," Ms Brennan said.

As for her mum - she said: "We are really just over the moon."