I’m Holly-ann Martin, Managing Director of Safe4Kids. Our story began in 1985 when I was volunteering at a school for children with special needs, here in Perth, Western Australia. The children at the school had varying disabilities, ranging from those with mild learning disabilities to those with profound cognitive impairment. We knew these children were at higher risk of being sexually abused, so we started to teach them about body safety, in particular, the concepts of public and private behaviours, touches and what is acceptable. We taught them the correct anatomical names for their private body parts, and that no-one is allowed to touch your private body parts unless you give permission. We wanted to try and empower these children to help keep them safe.
Unknown to me at the time, a program called Protective Behaviours had been developed in the United States of America by Peg Flandreau West and her colleagues. This program was initially devised in the early 1970’s, to help children recognise when they did not feel safe and to explore what they could do about it. Over the next few years the program evolved and developed, and by 1975 the core themes, concepts and strategies we now call Protective Behaviours were being taught. In 1985 the Protective Behaviours program was introduced to Australia and is still in use today.
In 1992, when I was working as a teacher assistant, I was formally trained in the Protective Behaviours program. The school principal introduced the program after a critical incident occurred. Having already spent seven years helping teach children body safety and the concept of public and private; learning the Protective Behaviours program ignited my passion for helping protect children and keep them safe.
In 2004, I was working at a Language Development Centre as a teacher assistant and teaching the Protective Behaviours program. The principal, having seen the positive impact the program was having on the children, asked me to deliver the program at three different school sites. By this stage, I had started to create teaching resources, games and lesson plans.
In 2006, a friend of mine encouraged me to back myself and start my own company dedicated to producing quality, innovative child abuse prevention education teaching resources. By now, the Protective Behaviours program was recognised across Australia, but very few quality teaching resources were available to help deliver the program. I had already created educational resources that I needed to teach children, and I figure, if I need them, then others might find them valuable too. So, I took a leap of faith and started my first company and began to produce teaching resources, games and lesson plans commercially.
In 2007, during my long service leave, I was invited to visit two remote Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley region of Western Australia; to help teach the adults and children about child abuse prevention education. It was during this visit; I started to realise, not only was there a need for quality teaching resources, but also a need to train teachers, parents, carers and the whole community in child abuse prevention education. And to empower them to be able to teach the children in their care and help keep them safe.
In 2010, after having worked as a teacher assistant for 23 years, I resigned from the Western Australian Department of Education, and in 2011 Safe 4 Kids (Aust) Pty Ltd was born. A new journey had begun.
In 2012, my husband, Roger Cripps, resigned from his position as a sports administrator in the AFL, and now we work together to try and help protect children all over the world from child abuse. We are like Yin and Yang, and it works so well! Roger has post-graduate qualifications in business management, so he looks after all the boring stuff, and I get to create new teaching resources and train parents, carers, teachers, educators and community member on how to help keep kids safe.
It is over 30 years since our story began. The world is a very different place now, and so are the potential threats to children. Safe4Kids is the only company in Australia dedicated to the development of quality, innovative, up-to-date child abuse prevention education programs, training and teaching resources, and we are passionate about it! This is our full-time job. Over my 30 year career in this field, one of my proudest moments was being inducted into the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016, for recognition of my services to child protection education.
So, that is our story so far! We are excited about the future, and we would love to work with you to help protect the children in your care. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any queries – We are here to help you!