Safe4Kids Child Abuse Prevention Program
Knowledge Circle Practice Profiles

Overview

Practice focus

The training and education elements of this program are designed to be readily adaptable to the specific needs of users in accordance with their own specific circumstances and within a broader community context. The approach helps to ensure communites have the capacity to deliver positive messages about keeping their children safe in the community.

Delivered by

Safe4Kids (Aust) Pty Ltd: A private organisation.

www.safe4kids.com.au

The information provided for this Promising Practice Profile was supplied by the Managing Director and founder of the Safe4Kids program. She draws upon 25 years experience of working in a variety of school settings and personally faciliates the program's prevention education sessions.

Service type

The program provides child abuse prevention education with a focus on the prevention of exposure to pornography and cyber-abuse and their effects on children aged 2-17 years. Educating the whole community plays an important role in the program. Target groups include women's groups, men's groups, police, teachers, childcare workers, Government and non-Government agencies based in the community.

The program is not exclusive to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. However, over 76% of the program's clients are reported to be of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent.

Location(s)

Australia wide

Description

The Safe4Kids program is delivered through schools with a primary focus on teaching Aboriginal children a range of strategies to help keep them safe. Emphasis is placed on developing a language and culture of safety for both children and adults by improving communication between them and by broadening the networks available to children when they feel unsafe. This involves teaching the basics in ways that are readily understood, encouraging and non-threatening.

In addition to child sex abuse prevention, the program provides education about the proliferation of pornography, cyberbullying, cyber-sex, cyber-payback and forming respectful relationships. The aim is to improve the emotional health of children and their overall quality of life.

The program is delivered from the "bottom-up", where a whole-of-community approach is used to engage school staff, parents and carers, local police, Government and non-Government agencies and other community groups in the process of creating safer communities.

Resourcing

The program is delivered around Australia in Aboriginal Communities. Initial funding was secured to deliver the program in nine remote Aboriginal communities in the NT through a grant (Aboriginal Benefit Account) from the former Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA). The grant was for programs to be delivered over a twelve month period.

Generally, funding to deliver the program around Australia, including the NT, is largely sourced from individual schools and agencies from local communities. In some cases, relevant State or Territory Education Departments have been able to supplement this funding.

Practice

MOST promising aspect

The fact that the facilitator was invited back to local Aboriginal communities highlights both the need for, and the perceived effectiveness of the program. Its success is underpinned by the provision of a whole-of-community focus that engages school staff, parents, carers, local police, Government and non-Government agencies and other community groups in the process of creating safer communities.

Other promising aspects

Other promising aspects include:

  • the retention of knowledge of the program is demonstrated by the children on the facilitator's follow-up visits;
  • Aboriginal Teacher Assistants take ownership of the program and want to translate it into a language of relevance by making posters to promote the program and display them around the community;
  • Aboriginal men's groups have been very positive about the program and pleased that it is being taught to their children; and,
  • the program can be delivered to all Aboriginal groups across Australia.
Evidence base and opportunities

The Safe4Kids program uses schools to provide a welcoming and supportive environment to deliver child abuse prevention education to anyone interested in keeping children safe in their local communities. Such environments are shown to facilitate trust and engagement between workers and clients and helps to provide greater access for education opportunities.

By taking a whole-of-community approach that targets and engages a wide range of community members in the program, Safe4Kids is able to enlist the support of participants to promote the child abuse prevention message to others in the community. This is aided by the use of plain language materials that can be readily adapted to be culturally relevant depending on the expressed needs of the community.

The aim of the program is to educate the whole community about keeping children safe from abuse. It is yet to be demonstrated through an evaluation of the program. In this sense, the effectiveness of the program, particularly in the long-term and with respect to the extent to which the program has impacted on communities to keep their children safe, remains unclear. Given the positive anecdotal responses to the program, a formal evaluation would contribute to the evidence-base about what works to keep children safe in their communities.

Cultural relevance

Involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders

Safe4Kids was developed by the program faciliator who is non-Aboriginal. However, the program has been refined through feedback from Aboriginal Teacher Assistants and Aboriginal community members.

The program is promoted by the progam facilitator as an educational approach that can be left in the hands of caring professionals, caregivers, parents and others who are interested in making children's lives safer. It relies on their participation in Safe4Kid's primary programs that can then be adapted and developed to suit the specific needs of agencies and members of the community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

The delivery of the program in Aboriginal communities is generally through the request of the local school and the community.

Cultural practices and materials

The prevention education training sessions are delivered by the facilitator in the following ways:

"Application Briefing" is a two-hour Abuse Prevention Education session for professionals working with children. It provides a 'snap-shot' of what is available in the full program although it contains enough information for professionals to begin making an immediate difference within their own environments. It opens a dialogue about the sorts of things that are needed in a system that cares for children and gives practical, common sense and relevant insights into how the existing system needs to change to meet the needs of its youngest members.

"In Class Mentoring" provides teachers with an opportunity to have the facilitator model lessons from a ten-week lesson plan. Teachers can choose lessons that they would like to see modelled with their students and provides teachers with the knowledge of a range of learning modes that can be readily adapted to the needs of their students.

"Parent Workshop" is a twohour session to provide parents with practical solutions in developing a common family language around safety. It is a fun and informal session that teaches parents to generate ideas that they may not have previously considered or been challenged with.

Adaptability

The program is based on the Protective Behaviours model (USA) that aims to prevent sexual abuse. The model has been adapted for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to be culturally relevant by developing a range of culturally specific learning resources and materials that are based on the learning styles of Aboriginal children.

The training sessions are designed to be flexible for teachers and parents to apply their own approaches in accordance with their own needs. This is particularly relevant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who can benefit from adapting the program to include culturally relevant materials and approaches.

Evaluation

Evaluation status

The program has not been evaluated. However, an external/independent evaluation is expected to be undertaken, provided funding becomes available. Evaluation instruments would include written evaluations following client participation in the program and the effects of the program/practice on participants by pre-test and post-test comparison. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander agencies or individuals would be expected to participate in the design and/or conduct of the evaluation.

Effectiveness

Demonstrated outcomes

The Managing Director of the program reports that the program is sustainable, innovative, culturally sensitive and provides relevant early intervention abuse prevention services. She speaks of anecdotal evidence from participants who have received the training that the program is making a difference in their communities.

Feedback through testimonials, feedback sheets and referrals also suggest that the program is culturally competent and is achieving its goals. The fact that the facilitator of the program is invited to return to the communities to continue the program also demonstrates that the program is considered by some community members to be effective.

 

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