Territory Families implements new child protection model

Territory Families is implementing the internationally recognised Signs of Safety approach across child protection and youth justice in the Northern Territory.

Signs of Safety is an Australian developed model that is designed to increase child safety, empower parents and families and utilise the knowledge and expertise of case managers.

More than 100 Territory Families staff attended a Signs of Safety workshop to recognise the official implementation of the program and share case studies and practical examples about how to use the approach across our different service areas. This includes family-led decision making, Central Intake, residential care, long-term planning and youth justice.

Signs of Safety was developed by child intervention staff in the 1990s in the remote Western Australian community of Halls Creek and has since been implemented in 15 countries, including New Zealand, Japan, Canada, the US and Cambodia.

Jurisdictions that have implemented Signs of Safety have seen an increase in children feeling safe at home, parents feeling more empowered and improvements in child protection workers’ morale.

Territory Families Chief Executive Ken Davies said that putting children at the centre of decision making is key.

“By giving parents and families an equal say, this new approach to child protection encourages case workers to help tailor individual responses to each child and family situation, and to empower parents and families,” he said.

“The implementation of this new approach will ensure that family will be involved in all assessments and decision making relating to the child.

“Most importantly, this approach has been internationally proven to increase the feeling of safety children have in their own homes.”

Since Territory Families began pre-implementation of Signs of Safety in November 2018, more than 600 staff have attended 20 training sessions across Darwin, Katherine and Alice Springs. Our staff are excited about the new approach and driven to implement it throughout the child protection and youth justice systems.”

The three main principles underpinning the Signs of Safety approach are:

  • Working relationships are fundamental, with families and other professionals
  • Stance of critical inquiry – always being prepared to admit you may have it wrong
  • Landing grand aspirations in everyday practice

Signs of Safety implementation will occur over two-years (2019-2021) with a five-year commitment to continue implementation activity.

Source: NT Government