The responsibility of keeping a child safe should involve listening to a child, hearing their story, and responding to their concerns. You might need to talk to children and young people about sensitive and uncomfortable issues and experiences.

Adults and institutions need to take children and young people’s views and ideas seriously. This is a child-centred approach. Institutions also need to act on children’s views as part of a whole-of-organisational strategy to develop safer environments. An organisation with well-developed policies and safety plans on child-safe practice and risk management can support adults to respond to instances of child abuse and support the victims.

Key actions to support child-centred practice

Child-centred practice involves both information sharing and collaboration with the child at the centre of the case-management process.

  1. Normalise it through formalising it. Make child-centred practice the ‘norm’ through organisational processes and procedures, such as establishing referral pathways for children and young people as clients in their own right.
  2. Make it part of the culture. Create a culture of child-centred practice to ensure child-centred practice is embedded in words and actions.
  3. Get trained-up. Attend child-centred practice training such as Keeping Kids Central or download other resources including from the ICPS website.
  4. You could also ask a manager or peer to be your mentor to help you maintain focus on child centred practice.

Face the risks to children in your organisation

Organisations need to recognise that there are ongoing and real risks to children. Listen to children about how they feel. Be alert to and proactive about the risks including to those in your own practice as well as those form other staff, families and other children.

Children and staff can be protected from allegations of abuse or opportunities by avoiding situations where staff are alone with children, particularly in cross-gender situations; ensuring good parental supervision and good note-taking practices; and working with children in full view of other responsible adults.

Responding to children

Listen carefully and acknowledge what a child and young person tells you. Remind them there are no secrets. Listening without judgement will help them feel more comfortable in sharing difficult or embarrassing information.

What to say when children disclose something

  1. I believe you
  2. You did the right thing by talking to me
  3. It is never OK for kids to get hurt
  4. I will discuss with you what can happen next and who we will share this with
  5. We will keep you involved and informed and you can continue to feel safe to tell us how you feel and what you want.

Incorporating therapeutic approaches

Many different kinds of therapeutic therapies are used across various disciplines. They include psychoanalysis, behaviour therapy, cognitive therapy, humanistic therapy, multisystemic therapy therapy, and integrative or holistic therapy. Whatever type of therapy you use in your practice, try to address the needs of both the protective parent and the child. Therapeutic responses to children exposed to domestic and family violence should include working with the protective parent and other siblings.

Therapeutic therapies are offered in clinical settings, but they can also be offered in supported playgroups or childcare settings. They have been shown to strengthen a child’s attachment to a parent, increase emotional support available to a child and leads to improved outcomes for the child.

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What we know

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Trigger warning:

This website may contain material that is confronting and disturbing, particularly for survivors of sexual abuse, violence or childhood trauma. Issues raised might cause you distress.

Support lines

If you are feeling distressed, seek support:

Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
beyondblue 1300 224 636
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
ReachOut 1800 633 937


If you believe a child or young person is in immediate danger, or you are in immediate danger, call 000.