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Good outcomes for children, young people, vulnerable adults and their families require genuine and meaningful partnership.

Working with vulnerable families is one of the most challenging jobs on the planet, and it's also one of the most incredible!  Walking alongside people to support them in making positive changes in their lives and safe changes in their behaviour is such a privilege, but it is also enormously difficult. In my experience from working with organisations and teams all over the world, child and adult protection professionals bring enormous heart, wisdom and skill to this work. And we are living in a world of increasing complexity, uncertainty and volatility, which makes this difficult work even more challenging!


The Partnering for Safety approach is based on the premise that good outcomes for children, young people, vulnerable adults and their families require genuine and meaningful partnership. Our team are passionate about partnering with organisations, leaders and workers to help them build systems, processes and skill sets that enable them to partner with families in meaningful ways to support families on their journey to greater safety and wellbeing.

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What is the Partnering for Safety approach?

The Partnering for Safety (PFS) approach is a trauma-informed, strengths-based, solution-focused, partnership-based and ​safety-organised approach to working with vulnerable families (both within child protection and adult protection).  The Partnering for Safety approach draws on evidence-based and innovative methodologies and tools from around the world, including Solution-Focused Brief Therapy, Narrative Therapy, Strengths-Based practice, Family-Centred practice, the Signs of Safety Approach, the Resolutions Approach, the “Three Houses” Information Gathering Tool,  the Safe and Together Model, Response-Based Practice, Motivational Interviewing, Family Group Decision-Making, Appreciative Inquiry and the latest thinking from Implementation Science.  The name "Partnering for Safety" was coined by Sonja Parker and Philip Decter to describe this integrated approach.

The PFS approach also integrates closely with the use of Structured Decision Making® (SDM) tools, which have been developed by Evident Change. Structured Decision Making® tools bring the best of research and aggregate data into tools that can be used by caseworkers to ‘check’ their thinking and intuition at key decision-making points to ensure these immensely important decisions are consistent and congruent with research, best practice and organisational policy.


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Empowering families

Providing tools and processes that help families understand the reasons behind statutory involvement, be able to share their views and their stories, and be able to actively participate in assessment and planning decisions about their own lives and the lives of members of their family.

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Empowering leaders and workers

The PFS approach supports leaders and workers in growing their knowledge, skills, critical thinking and reflective capacity, so that they are more confident and competent in leading and facilitating a change process and a healing process for the individuals and families they are working with.   

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Empowering organisations

The PFS team are passionate about supporting organisational leadership to courageously recognise the often harmful impact on workers and families from current child and adult protection systems, and to then transform their systems to the best of their ability, to enable dignity-driven, sustainable and transformative practice. 

Listening to voices of the most vulnerable

Providing tools and processes that help workers to  listen to the thoughts, feelings and experiences of those most vulnerable - children, young people and vulnerable adults - and to support the most vulnerable in actively participating in all assessment and planning processes.

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Strengthening and involving networks

Central to the PFS approach are tools and processes that help workers to support the strengthening and involvement of the family's network of safety and support (family, friends, community and professionals). The network support the caregivers in   building and sustaining both immediate safety and long term safety and wellbeing. 

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Facilitating healing and sustainable safety

There is a common saying: "Hurt people, hurt people". The PFS approach starts from the premise that many of the people causing harm to others need to be supported to heal from their own trauma, for them to be able to effectively and sustainably change their behaviour. And those who have experienced harm (both from family experiences and experiences with statutory systems) also need to be supported to heal, so that they can continue to recover and thrive. 

The PFS team


Sonja Parker



Art Director

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Catherine Santoro


Tech Lead

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