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Partnering with parents

Partnering with parents and safety and support networks

Parents need to take the responsibility for the ways in which they will keep their child safe. They also need to be clear about the specific behaviours or ways their child may be seriously hurt or injured from their parent’s alcohol and other drugs use.

The safety plan needs to make sense to parents and their networks and use language they understand.

Explaining safety to parents

Talk about the ‘what if’s’ for the period of the safety plan: What if things change? What if you can’t follow through? What do you need to make this work?

Help parents and their supports name specific actions they will take to prevent a child being seriously hurt or injured.

Parents and their safety and support networks need to know that:

  • you understand that stopping alcohol and other drugs use does not happen overnight, and you will work with them and support them in keeping their child safe while they work towards this
  • bringing together a safety network to support the parent and child is what will help keep the child safe
  • their child will have a copy of the safety plan
  • the safety plan is voluntary and is not a court order or legal document
  • signing a safety plan means they have received a copy of it
  • they are entitled to seek legal advice
  • if they are unable to follow through on the safety plan, they should contact you for help to look at ways their child can still be safe.

Talking with parents about their alcohol and other drugs use


  • Be curious and use empathy to understand the reasons why a parent started using alcohol and other drugs. By understanding their perception of how using alcohol and other drugs helps them, they can be supported to reduce, then cease their use.
  • Respectfully challenge and explore if parents seem hesitant in talking about their alcohol and other drugs use. Try to understand what is holding them back and how you can help them.
  • Acknowledge different perspectives, but keep it about the safety of their child.
  • Be clear about safety and what it is you are worried about.
  • Involve parents and ask for their ideas on what to do.
  • Talk about what information needs to be shared with others to keep their child safe. Talk about the best way for this to be shared.
  • Bring the parents and their network together to talk about your worries and come up with ideas. Do not just ring and tell someone what they need to do.
  • Make sure safety networks know what they need to do to carry out the safety plan.

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