Daniel Morcombe’s story changed child safety in Australia. Here’s how his parents are still campaigning.

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On December 7, 2003, the safety of Australian children changed forever with the disappearance of 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe. 

The teenager from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast was on his way to buy Christmas presents for his family at a local shopping centre when he was abducted from a bus stop in Palmwoods, sparking the biggest police investigation the state had ever seen.  

It’s a case that shook the nation and broke hearts across the country when justice was served with the sentencing of the man responsible, 11 long years later.

But since then, the 13-year-old’s parents have never stopped campaigning for child safety, and the Daniel Morcombe Foundation has become one of the most well-known not-for-profit child safety organisations in the world.

From the very first Walk for Daniel, one of the foundation’s awareness raising and fundraising efforts, a line of people dressed in red shirts in memory of the teen has become an icon of Daniel’s legacy of child safety.

“I think seeing it really touches people's hearts,” Michelle Cole, the Foundation’s Child Safety Education Manager, told Mamamia during National Child Protection Week (3-9 September). 

“When I’m out on the road with Denise and Bruce [Daniel’s parents] with the school presentations, the amount of people that just come up and say they remember where they were when they heard the news [of Daniel’s disappearance].. People resonate with what happened, and it’s had a real life impact.”

"Prevention is better than a cure."

The Daniel Morcombe Foundation was established in 2005 as a way for Bruce and Denise Morcombe to give back to the community that supported them from the day that Daniel disappeared, by educating other children on how to stay safe.


“Since then it’s evolved and now it’s really known for the quality resources that we produce to provide child safety education to children and young people to prevent abuse, and promote lifelong health and wellbeing,” Michelle said. 

As well as creating safety resources for children, the Foundation also hosts child safety education visits in schools across the country, and directly supports young victims of crime. 

“We know that prevention is better than a cure, and the work that Bruce and Denise have led, their legacy and the reach of engagement, is absolutely incredible, and the impact we get to have is absolutely brilliant.” 

And that’s all down to fundraising. 

"We literally couldn’t do it without fundraising."

18 years since its inception, the Daniel Morcombe Foundation has raised on average about a million dollars a year. But in the face of an ongoing cost-of-living crisis across the country, there’s been a recent decrease in funds raised.

“That’s where the Play For Purpose charity raffle partnership is so impactful for us,” Michelle explained. 

The Australian not-for-profit community raffle helps more than 500 charities and good causes supercharge their fundraising efforts, by giving people the chance to win one of 395 prizes in every quarterly raffle. It's a total prize pool of $300,000, including a first prize package worth $250,000.


All people need to do is purchase a $10 ticket in support, and at least $5 from every ticket will go directly to their favourite cause. 

Since 2018, Play For Purpose has raised more than $7.8 million dollars for good causes around Australia and announced more than 50,000 lucky prize winners.

“It is a wonderful opportunity to fundraise, providing us with an additional income stream, while rewarding our donors with potential prizes,” Michelle said. “And the prizes are amazing.” 

Since teaming up with Play For Purpose in 2019, the partnership has been a win-win for the Daniel Morcombe Foundation. 

“That's actually enabled us to continue receiving funds from mum and dad donors, which has been so helpful, and then that income goes directly towards educating children about their personal safety by producing evidence-based, high quality and engaging free child safety educational resources,” Michelle said.

“We literally couldn’t do without the fundraising, which obviously Play For Purpose is a direct result and feeder to.”

Australia’s Biggest Child Safety Lesson

Each year, the Daniel Morcombe Foundation’s fundraising efforts culminate in the production of Australia’s Biggest Child Safety Lesson, a livestream broadcast to children across Australia during National Child Protection Week to teach them about protective behaviours and staying safe.

2023 will mark the program’s seventh year, and will see the lesson reach more than 300,000 students aged eight to 12 on Tuesday September 5, while an early years version will be shown to four to seven year olds.


“This year’s theme is consent,” Michelle said, “Covering those key concepts of what is consent, why do we need to ask, how to ask, but also how to hear yes and no.

“The children will be taught about strategies they can use when they need to give or deny consent. So, for example, saying yes or no in an assertive manner, and understanding how important it is to listen for consent when they're asking for another person. So really listening in and looking at body language and listening to the words.” 

If you’d like to support the amazing work of a local Australian charity close to your heart, like the Daniel Morcombe Foundation, head to Play For Purpose, buy a ticket and nominate your cause.

Play For Purpose charity raffle tickets are just $10, so get behind the community cause closest to your heart for your chance to WIN a $250,000 first prize pack. For the latest raffle prizes, see

If you’re an established ACNC registered charity looking to supercharge your fundraising, contact the Play For Purpose team to learn more about becoming a charity partner. Promoter is 50-50 Foundation Ltd. Entry open to Australian residents who are aged 18 years or older. See full T&Cs at

Feature image: Facebook/@DanielMorcombeFoundation/Mamamia.

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