You are here: Safe from the Start › Projects


"A child who lives with violence is forever changed, but not forever 'damaged' – and there is a lot we can do to improve their future prospects." (Baker/Cunningham, 2007)

Research - Men who use violence and the impact on children: UTAS, Dr Peter Lucas, 2015
Safe from the Start Indigenous Research Project
Cultural & Linguistically Diverse Research Project 
Safe from the Start DVD - instructional DVD on ways to use the kit's resources
Tasmanian Aboriginal children's book

Start Today Again

Start Today Again is a ‘toolkit’ for use by presenters, trainers and counsellors to assist men and men’s groups understand the impact of family violence on children, and suggest ways in which changes in parenting relationships can be made.

Visit the Start Today Again Website

When Daddy Hits the Table and When Mummy Shouts

Written by Mary Koolhof and Aunty Eva Richardson.  Illustrated by Janet Fenton

When Daddy Hits the Table and When Mummy Shouts are two Aboriginal stories written for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children to assist them to understand different behaviours by their parents.

Written specifically to be included in the Safe from the Start resource kit, the books aim to address violent behaviour by either parent and to encourage children to discuss their feelings with other family members or their teacher.  Both books can be used to engage children who have witnessed or been exposed to violence, have been abused or live with parents displaying violent behaviour.

Safe from the Start aims to educate parents, teachers and the wider community that children who witness family or domestic violence are affected and need to tell someone about it.

The research quote:  'A child who lives with violence is forever changed, but not forever 'damaged' and there is a lot that we can do to improve their future prospects' (Baker & Cunningham, 2007) inspired the project.  This encourages anyone working with children that one single encounter with a small child is special and could be remembered by the child forever.

Suitable for children aged 2-6 years.

Click here to download order form

When daddy hits the table 

Little Jack the Wallaby

Written by Fiona Calvert.  Illustrated by Judith-Rose Thomas

An Aboriginal Children’s Book was launched in 2013 to address the lack of suitable Indigenous resources available to include in the Safe from the Start resource kit.  The author and illustrator are both Tasmanian Aboriginal women who have written a delightful book for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children. The illustrations using the aboriginal colours for the moon, rock carvings, pyjama jackets and blankets enables children to ask questions about the Aboriginal meaning of the illustrations.  The story encourages children to share their feelings with other family members when they don’t feel safe.

Suggestions for use:

 A number of questions could be asked to generate discussion about Aboriginal culture. This is particularly useful in group settings in a playgroup or school.  

Possible questions include: 

  • See if you can find the three Aboriginal flags in the book? 
  • How many sunsets can you find?  
  • What is Jimmy holding in his hand on the first page and why do you think he is crying? 
  • Are Jack and Jimmy wearing the same colour pyjamas?  

Download order form here

Little Jack The Wallaby

Safe from the Start DVD

The Safe from the Start DVD was created to assist workers to engage with young children demonstrating how some of the Kits resources could be used to engage with and listen to children who have been exposed to family or domestic violence. 

The DVD shows how counsellors could read a story in therapeutic or activity based play.  It shows how to engage with a child – by reading a story or using a puppet.  The child can be encouraged to express their feelings of being sad, scared or angry and share their experiences.

The DVD is not intended to be a play therapy or counselling training tool.  Instead it gives examples of how activity based play using the Safe from the Start books or puppets may be used to identify if further support may be needed, such as play therapy with a trained therapist or professional counsellor or psychologist.

Play enables symbolic communication with the child as it is the way in which a child can express their feelings and connect with and seek to understand their world.

You will observe that while some children engage easily with the counsellor and are interested in the story or puppet and express their thoughts and feelings openly, others do not.  The children who do not engage at first, may still benefit from the play session and talk about it later at home, to someone else they trust or in another session.  While some counsellors in the DVD ask the child a number of questions; in a real activity based session the emphasis could be on more time listening or play as opposed to asking direct questions.

Each situation would be different according to the child’s circumstances, previous sessions held getting to know the child before using activity based play or discussions with the mother or caregiver regarding the child’s experience.

The children in the DVD are aged between 4 and 6 years and do not live in violent homes, but share their feelings naturally about different life situations.  The children’s responses are not scripted and their replies are spontaneous as they engage with various books and puppets in the kit.

The Counsellors in the DVD range from qualified professionals such as a psychologist, social worker, family violence counsellor, youth worker and family support worker.

The DVD also includes a number of discussion questions which can be used in staff training and development sessions. 

Safe From The Start DVD Cover

When Do Children Need Professional Help? 

Many children who have witnessed or been exposed to family violence can resolve their feelings and concerns with the help of their mum, a trusted family member such as a grandparent or their teacher.  However, there are situations when professional help is needed. Consider seeking professional help in the following situations:

  • The child is particularly vulnerable because of other stressful events or losses they have experienced.
  • The violence within the family has occurred several times.
  • The child is avoiding going to school or is being bullied.
  • The child’s mother is highly upset and unable to respond to the child’s needs.
  • A child is physically hurting him/herself or others.
  • A child’s problems have gone on for 3–4 months with no improvement.

If you are a parent worried about your child, remember that you know your child best. Don’t hesitate to contact and consult with a professional. 

If you are worried about a child you know well, remember that you play a very important role! 

Where Can You Seek Professional Help?

There are a number of services (both government and non-government) that provide help.
Talk to someone who knows your child well as they may be able to provide counselling or a referral. Consider contacting the following professionals:

  • Domestic or Family Violence Services (1800 200 526)
  • Domestic or Family Violence Refuges
  • Child Adolescent Mental Health Services
  • Family counselling services specialising in counselling children
  • Therapeutic Play Therapists
  • Schools (the child’s teacher or social worker)
  • Psychologists
  • Child Psychotherapy
  • General Practitioner General Guidelines
  • When working with young children who have been exposed to violence, the parent or care caregiver should be informed about any therapeutic or activity based play that occurs with a child.
  • The Kits Resources used in activity based play can also be given to the parent or caregiver to take home or suggestions given how to use similar resources at home to encourage the child to discuss their feelings and emotions.
  • A mother can be part of the activity based play session with the child which can often also  be useful for the mum (eg:  the book, Ruby & the Rubbish Bin is about self esteem, and A Huge Bag of Worries – sorting out large and small worries).  This enables the mother and child to continue the discussion at home using the same language through using the resource.    
  • The Safe from the Start brochures can be given to the parent or caregiver which provides information re the impact of exposure of family violence on young children.

Supporting Children who are living with violence or been exposed to violence

  • Healing begins by engaging with and listening to children
  • A helpful and supportive adult is the most powerful tool we have to help children feel safe.  This can be a parent, grandparent, neighbour, teacher, child carer or community person.
  • Engage with the child through activity based play and listening to them.
  • Give the child permission to tell their stories and share their feelings about their experience which can include feelings of being sad, angry, scared or of loss, grief or low self esteem.
  • Give clear, simple explanations about scary events or situations of violence.  They do not really understand the causes of violence and often blame themselves.