Below are written testimonials from service providers.
We have also added the person’s name and title if permission has been given.
“Just over 5 years ago I had the good fortune of being introduced to Holly-ann Martin. I needed someone to run a workshop for a group of childcare services.
Holly-ann came along and set up with the few resources she had developed at the time and then started on the presentation. The whole room sat mesmerized. Child abuse is not an easy topic to talk about, even when it’s delivered as a program designed to empower children and prevent the abuse from happening in the first place. Holly-ann’s straightforward, no-nonsense approach to the subject matter made it easy to understand. Participants were given simple but effective tools to help them in making protective behaviours part of the daily program, with the children in their care.
Listening to Holly-ann deliver the presentation and tell of her experiences, give examples of how we can all do something to help keep children safe inspired me and many other participants that evening. In fact, I was so inspired that I felt I wanted to do more to help spread the message. Holly-ann became my mentor and because of her generosity in sharing her knowledge, her many resources as she developed new ones, I have been able to support the many childcare Educators I have contact with, as well as introduce my grandchildren to the benefits of protective behaviours. Holly-ann continues to develop new resources and these are well used in many childcare centres as Educators find them easy, educational and a lot of fun to use in their daily program with the children.
It is my opinion that were it not for these protective behaviours tools Holly-ann have developed, many children would simply not get the protective behaviours lessons in their daily program while attending daycare. In developing these resources, Holly-ann has certainly made the task fun and easy for people of all abilities to get the message across to the children in their lives.
I applaud her. I have never met anyone so committed to the cause of child safety.”
Children’s Services Officer
” I was invited to attend a workshop run by Holly Ann Martin Founder and Managing Director of Safe 4 Kids. The workshop was held at the health clinic at Yuendumu and was attended by medical staff and service providers working in Yuendumu.
The workshop was not only informative but at times emotive, those present were moved and I believe felt confronted by what is happening in society around sexual abuse towards children.
Holly Ann Martin delivered a highly motivational workshop directed towards the SAFE 4 Kids format, which introduces the concept of prevention by incorporating clear messages to children regarding inappropriate behaviour. SAFE 4 Kids introduce an educational approach that empowers the children to be proactive about their own safety.
Safety messages have been designed around all aspects of children’s safety, eg bike safety, traffic safety, ect. The SAFE 4 Kids programme is designed brilliantly around safety and the use of protective behaviours for children.
I was then invited to attend a preschool class were Holly Ann Martin introduced the teaching components of SAFE 4 Kids; Public and Private, Saying “No”, The Three Safety Questions, and Secrets and Secret Enablers. Lessons included songs and actions. The children were absorbed and attentive to the songs and actions and were able to follow the educational design of SAFE 4 Kids.
SAFE 4 Kids is a programme that targets protective behaviours, and delivers a message around safety.”
Community Child Safety Wellbeing Practitioner.
“During May 2012 I accompanied Holly-ann Martin to the remote Indigenous community of Yuendumu, NT for the period of one week. I had not been exposed to Protective Behaviours (PB) training with school-aged children prior to this experience.
What I saw during this week was an extremely gifted and talented teacher, an expert in the delivery of protective behaviours to all. Firstly, Holly delivered her program to the children in the school. This program incorporates messages which are reinforced by the variety of resources that she has built up over the 25 years she has been teaching PB. These include but are not limited to: songs and music which incorporate her messages, the use and teaching of sign language, flash cards, pictorial scenario’s, colouring in exercises, drawings, the network handprint, a mapping technique which utilizes the local community slat map, a board game, bingo cards, posters, short movies via DVD and power-point presentations.
It was obvious to me that Holly knew every one of her 10 lessons plans by heart. She was able to capture the attention of all the children who were placed before her throughout the week, the ages of these children ranged from 4 – 16 years both girls and boys. To say she is gifted is an understatement. She was openly able to communicate with the children on all levels. To some, she spoke of confronting and embarrassing topics without hesitation or shame. This not only relieved the teachers of raising these topics with their class but Holly was able to model the use of her program in the presence of the teachers. This was of benefit to all I spoke to.
Holly’s teaching style is simple yet effective. Her messages are clear and her use of sign language was brilliant, especially for these indigenous children whose first language is Warlpiri. It was obvious that the children loved the use of sign and picked it up and used it immediately and for the whole week.
Outside of the classroom, I saw Holly deliver a session to the teenage girls at Mission Creek, some 25 kilometres from the school and community. Holly was happy to sit in the dirt with the girls and two female elders to talk to them about how to protect themselves and keep safe.
Her program is beautiful. It follows a logical path from learning about safety and the two important themes of PB (being that “Everyone has the right to feel safe all of the time” and “We can talk with someone about anything”). Holly covers important topics that build on the previous one and make the whole program flow and complement each session. Holly taught the children how to set up a network of adults that they can trust, she talked to them about persistence and the importance of talking about things that trouble them and reporting these to an adult who can help. She talked about public and private places and which behaviours are acceptable (within these). She taught the children about strangers, secrets, social distance and much more.
Separate to the school, Holly zeroed in on any adults within Yuendumu who were willing to attend one of her workshops. These were conducted with:
Once again the location of the training facility appeared to not phase Holly. Training was delivered in small dirty rooms where the lighting was poor and it was freezing cold. She spoke to a group of 21 men after football training in a car park, once again in darkness and in the cold desert evening. It was obvious to me that whatever the venue, time or location, this teacher was there to spread the message of PB to anyone who was keen to listen. I saw her engage with every group in which she spoke and at times bringing some people to tears.
Holly’s holistic approach to teaching PB in remote communities is extremely effective. The children were learning new techniques and lessons at school. Their parents, government and non-government workers, volunteers and others exposed to the training were also learning about the huge problem associated with the abuse and neglect of children in the Northern Territory. I found this method of delivery to be very effective as the whole community was soon on “the same page” and able to speak the same language with the children, reinforcing the themes taught.
By the end of the week, I felt inspired by the training. I saw with my own eyes that the children were using the hand signs that Holly had shown them for what constituted them feeling safe and unsafe. They were repeating the messages that Holly had taught them and used in role play, in particular, when I saw one girl kicked by her brother, she immediately responded with the words that Holly had taught “stop it I don’t like it when you kick me like that, it hurts”.
I have recently taken on a voluntary position to establish a PB committee in the Northern Territory. For almost ten years prior to this, I worked within the ranks of the NT Police, spending about 7 years in remote communities including Yuendumu.
I saw the power and effect that this education program had on the children in Yuendumu, I can see this on a wider scale being successful in remote communities in the NT and beyond. It is my intention to support Hollyann Martin and the Safe 4 Kids program in every way I am able. I believe if the government agencies including police, health and education worked together in promoting PB to the remote communities, it could have a positive effect on what we know are extremely dysfunctional places. I believe there is hope and PB can bring change and improvement to the lives of our children. The national emergency that was declared back in 2008 by PM John Howard should have incorporated protective behaviours training into every remote Indigenous Community across the Northern Territory. Had it done so, we may have seen change and improvement in the lives of our Indigenous by now.”
Police Officer, NT (retired)
“In my very first week of working in Central Australian remote Aboriginal communities I was discussing issues surrounding protective behaviours with a colleague. She informed about Holly-Anne and her program. I remember feeling relieved that there was this kind of program in Central Australia but also frustrated that more people weren’t able to facilitate it all the time, in every community. It has taken me a year to finally be able to arrange a time to go out bush and be part of Holly-Anne’s work. I was impressed at my colleague’s description of Holly-Anne over a year ago, but seeing her work in the community absolutely blew me away. Her passion, knowledge, experience and dedication to ensuring that everyone feels safe is nothing but phenomenal. She has a gift and that gift can ensure that children stay safe and therefore grow into strong adults that will take control of themselves, their people and their community.
She has a communication method that is so effective and a program that is tailored and specific to the needs of Aboriginal communities. People can not help but be engaged when they are around her. You leave her sessions feeling empowered but also responsible.
I only wish Holly-Anne could be cloned to work in every community in the NT. Through my position, with the NT Government, I have reported a disturbing number of child sexual, physical and emotional abuse and neglect cases. Each one breaks my heart and I do not feel that teachers, nurses, police or community workers have enough knowledge or skills available to deal with the cases appropriately, let alone prevent them. What Holly-Anne teaches not only gives the words to the children to be able to effectively communicate their issues but it gives the skills to the children and adults of the community to actually prevent cases. I am embarrassed and disgusted that we have the issues we have in the NT but I truly believe if we can train people in Protective Behaviours and empower children and communities to speak the truth we can enable a positive influence and decrease this abuse.
Everyone who I meet that has met Holly-Anne can only speak words or admiration and praise. Often these are police officers, teachers and health workers with many years experience in remote communities. They all speak so highly of her abilities and the program and they all have a number of success stories that occurred after Holly-Anne’s visit that they want to share.
Stuff the stronger futures program – bring in Holly-Anne to liaise with these communities, she will give the skills to enable Aboriginal people to make their own futures stronger and more positive!”
Health Care Worker, NT
“Our community was having a rough trot with the kids watching porn, teasing each other about sexualised images that they had seen and wanting to perform. The younger ones were conducting themselves in unsafe environments and behaviours. We have a gunja problem that is magnifying all issues and problems. Underaged sex had raised its head and I was worried about dozens of them as they were wandering the streets with nowhere safe to be and no one to talk to about the things that were going on.
I rang the CAT team and spoke to Carmen about her team coming out to talk to the kids. She instead recommended Holly – ann MARTIN.
Holly came out to Papunya and stayed for a week at the school attending to every class of all ages including the child care centre.
I can not recommend highly enough the lessons and behaviours that she has conducted and corrected in such a short time. The kids are now correcting each other on safe and unsafe. They are able to identify and verbalise the feelings that they are having, including early warning signs.
Holly conducted lessons with the older kids / young adults where she conducted a mapping exercise where the kids do our job. They showed where they feel unsafe, are having sex, buying drugs on a community map. Basically showed the area that we need to patrol or identify the owners of the property that they need lighting etc.”
Police Officer, Papunya Station, NT
“In May of this year, I had the pleasure of meeting Holly-Anne for the first time in Yuendemu, Northern Territory. Holly-Anne was in Yuendemu facilitating her Safe 4 Kids program designed to teach protective-behaviours to school-aged children. These skills assist kids to make “safe” life choices. For example, Safe 4 Kids links the presence of our natural fright or flight instincts (e.g. butterflies in the stomach or jelly knees) to an “unsafe” situation and encourages kids to tell an adult when they are feeling these “early warning signs.”
Holly-Anne has created an endless supply of age-appropriate songs, games and visuals for kids from kindergarten through high school. I attended a number of sessions with Holly-Anne, and I was astounded by her ability to engage and charm even the most difficult of audiences. Her messages are simple and intuitive; in a nutshell: everyone gets it. She helps children set up a diversified network of five people they can always turn to when they feel unsafe or simply need to talk about uncomfortable topics. After spending only a day with Holly-Anne, I saw children playing in the evening and flashing me a smile while giving me the “thumbs-up” as I walked by; Safe 4 Kids’ trademark hand signal to indicate a feeling of safety and happiness. I was astounded to see how quickly children not only understood her message but how fast they adopted it into their repertoire of communication.
Holly-Anne’s Safe 4 Kids program also shares the protective behaviours’ message and skills to adults. Holly-Anne has developed curriculum for facilitating information sessions and discussions with community members, health workers, youth workers, teachers and law enforcement personnel to ensure they are aware and engaged with what children are learning. She highlights the critical role adults play in facilitating children’s safety and wellbeing. This holistic approach is astoundingly simple and beautiful. Holly-Anne’s program is desperately needed throughout all of Australia and the world for that matter. I applaud her invaluable work and dedication towards addressing difficult life circumstances for children and her unwavering commitment to make the world a safer, more positive place.”
“I am writing this letter in support of the program Safe4Kids. The coordinator of the program is Holly Ann Martin, whom I have seen working in Central Australian Remote communities of the Northern Territory. In my position as the Remote Women’s Health Educator, I have been privileged to witness this innovative program in action and have seen the positive results of the aftermath.
Holly Ann is a dedicated professional, who has committed her time and energy to working with communities in Central Australia, in an effort to assist children in having more control over the lives and themselves. She works on a holistic model so that while she is in a given community she educates as many individuals, groups and children as possible.
Being a diligent worker with a short time frame, I have seen her start a day at 0800 and not finish until 9 or 10 at night.
Children are her main focus. Holly Ann works in the school with each class, the teachers and assistant staff, utilising all of her skills, learnt as a special education teacher to engage the group with stories, role play, hand signing, songs and toys. She adapts the same education to meet the needs of the age group.
Professionals don’t miss out as they are an intricate part of holistic approach she takes with communities. Holly Ann approaches all agencies within a community to make sure that they are aware of what she is teaching the children in that community. This is important so same messages can be reinforced and understood by everyone.
Community people are imperative to the whole process, for a few reasons
1) they have a right to know what is being taught to their children
2) children are not able to take full control over the lives alone, they need the support of their community members.
3) you never know when there is a local person who may be a perpetrator or a saviour to children in the group. If they attend the education, the saviours will be aware and better informed and more able to assist kids, whereas the perpetrators will move on, knowing that the children are strong and knowledgeable about issues around sexual abuse and will not put up with it as easily.
How she works
Holly Ann has the ability to engage all groups and has succeeded in establishing men’s groups who invite her back time and again to get more information about how they can better support their children and communities. This is unique in Central Australia, as most of the traditional men are usually more reserved and culturally strong and don’t see it as a woman’s place to educate or talk with them. Holly Ann has broken down this barrier and men have said to her “if you have something important we need to hear then you have to tell us… you are not bound by culture unless you are Aboriginal”
Most recently Holly Ann spoke to a 20 strong group of Warlpiri men from Yuendumu and I heard from a mother of two sons who attended the group say “when they came home that night they were really proud and spoke up strongly about how she (Holly Ann) made them feel.”
Holly Ann had been working with the children at school for the week and she commended the men on how well the children listened and behaved for her in class and told them that they were doing a good job of raising their kids.
Holly Ann doesn’t just, walk the walk, she talks the talk as well and has the ability to get through. Maybe this comes from her background of being a special education teacher or just the fact that she cares and this comes across every time she pulls a group together, whether they are professionals, like the police and health staff or local men, women or children, it doesn’t seem to matter, she engages the group and they hear what she has to say.
I am very proud to admit that I was present when she first came to Alice Springs in 2009 where she recognised the need for a program like hers and has come back many times since.
Holly Ann needs to be funded appropriately to continue to serve the people of Central Australian remote communities properly.
I have been in this role for 20 years and have seen several models of these protective behaviour type programs, but this is the only one that works across all disciplines, services and government branches in a holistic theme that really works.
I would urge you to take the time to just be there and watch her in action. You will be as enthralled as the bush mob are with her training style.”
Remote Women’s Health Educator
“Late last year I had the opportunity to listen to Holly-ann speak about the Safe4Kids child protection education program in our workplace. As a nurse, I was most impressed – this education is obviously effective – and is appropriately delivered to all children in different age groups, as well as professionals and the men and women in communities. The resources Holly-ann has developed to deliver this abuse prevention program are amazing.
As impressed as I was listening to Holly-ann, I realised the true benefits of this program the night before receiving this education. It was around the dinner table that I first learnt of Holly-ann’s amazing work. My son and daughter (aged 8 years and 6 years), were telling me what they had learnt at school to help keep them safe. They described to me using the ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ hand signs, what Holly-ann had taught them. I was so impressed that someone had been able to teach my children to help themselves stay safe. As parents, we are always concerned about our children’s safety and Safe4Kids addresses our concerns and provides children with the language and the confidence and ability to help them stay safe. The program teaches adults how to recognise and listen to children who are feeling ‘unsafe’ and how to help them.
I have nothing but admiration for Holly-ann as a facilitator, her passion in the delivery of abuse prevention education is unsurpassed.
I would like to see the Safe4Kids child protection education a compulsory program in all Australian child-care centres, kindergartens and schools. I would like to see all health professionals, teachers, police, child-care workers, parents and carers, child protection staff and other people working in areas close to children taught the Safe4Kids program as well.
Child safety is a priority, we need to take responsibility and enable our children to communicate to us when they feel unsafe. I highly recommend Safe4Kids and look forward to Holly-ann returning to this community to continue her fantastic work!”