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Actively and effectively engaging with children and young people helps them build a sense of belonging, emphasising that their voices and needs are heard, understood, and considered.

Emerging Minds has some evidence-based resources and effective practice strategies that support practitioners’ engagement with children and young people. Important considerations for professionals in ensuring interactions with children and young people are safe and effective include that:

  • the child is aware of, and attentive to, what is taking place in the session
  • workers are actively listening to and appropriately responding to what is being communicated
  • children feel confident and comfortable enough in the child–practitioner relationship to communicate their voice accurately.

Importantly, activities that involve the participation of children must:

  • be voluntary
  • obtain informed consent
  • adopt a child-centred approach whereby a child’s safety, protection, welfare, and well-being are paramount.

Below are some resources to guide practitioners in engaging with children:

Hear my Voice Conversation Cards – developed by the State-wide Children’s Resource Program. The ‘Hear My Voice Conversation Cards’ guide and support practitioners to have a trauma-informed approach when conversing with children and young people regarding their experiences of family violence and homelessness. The pack consists of sets of colour-coded cards each tailored to address a specific target audience. Conversation Cards provide an opportunity for gentle questioning and a reflective discussion so that appropriate support can be provided to children and young people. The How to Use Booklet and Conversation Cards are free to access via the Practitioner Toolkit on the State-wide Children’s Resource Program.

Three Houses Tool – developed by Nicki Weld and Maggie Greening in the National Child Protection Agency in New Zealand. The ‘Three Houses Tool’ is another way to emphasise the voice of children and young people who are exposed, to or experiencing family violence. By discussing the ‘House of Worries’, the ‘House of Strengths’ and the ‘House of Hopes and Dreams’, children and young people have the opportunity to have an honest conversation with practitioners about their individual needs and future goals as part of developing a safety plan. A guide on how to use the Three Houses Tool can be found here.