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Over the recent weeks, there have been two critical incidents in NSW, with heavy media coverage of both incidents. This may be impacting on your service’s children, families and communities.

The Big Situations resource includes links to free and practical resources to support educators to respond to situations such as this. When educators feel prepared to respond to big situations, they are more able to remain inclusive of all children and continue to deliver a quality program. We encourage you to access our Critical Incidents page here or please contact your Inclusion Professional if you would like support.

You may be looking at this resource because of a family violence situation currently being experienced, or you may be looking to prepare and build the capacity of your team for a 'big situation' that may occur.

Before you do anything... safety comes first

If you are experiencing a family violence situation now...

  • Keep everyone safe. Avoid injuries or harm by making your site physically safe and keeping things as calm as possible.
  • Follow the directions of emergency services.
  • Follow regulatory requirements and implement relevant policies, including informing management, and your Regulatory Authority where needed e.g. critical incident or service closure. This includes raising and reporting child protection and safety concerns following mandatory reporting requirements. See Information for educators below.
  • Be ready to say no if people ask you to do things that are outside your scope or that could be harmful for children and calmly explain why.
  • Seek or ask for help as needed.

To access further tips for responding right now, click here

Educators are often among the first to be aware that parents and/or children are affected by family violence. Supporting children affected by family violence situations can be part of an educator's role.

Educators' immediate responsibility is to keep children safe and provide reassurance. As mandatory reporters educators must follow relevant jurisdictional reporting guidelines. They may also have an ongoing role in supporting children and their families. This may include supporting families to access resources to cope during challenging times.

This resource aims to support educators to include all children while responding to, and supporting recovery from, events that impact on the lives of children, families, and communities. This is not about educators needing to know everything, or feeling pressured to resolve or fix big situations. This resource is designed to be a starting point to quickly connect educators with the targeted support and resources they need to keep going with their important work with children and families when big situations happen.

An Inclusion Professional can support educators to proactively prepare to have the skills and confidence to respond to big situations that may occur. This preparation could include support to use this resource and may involve strategic inclusion planning. It should be noted that big situations often require support from experts that sit outside the role and expertise of the Inclusion Professional. Inclusion Professionals can help educators connect with external organisations and agencies as needed. If educators feel prepared to respond to big situations, they are more able to remain inclusive of all children and continue to deliver a quality program.

Tips for responding right now

Maintain routines and rhythms

Children benefit from consistency. You can help them feel safe by continuing to do things the way you usually would. Acknowledge events and how children feel, but also provide the usual play opportunities and experiences.

Encourage connections and conversations

Children process experiences through play and interactions with people they trust. Children will connect through play, and conversations about big situations may happen as they play. Adults may need more encouragement and structure, so create opportunities for this where you can, or encourage families and your team members to access community supports and networks where relevant. People especially benefit from support from those they already know and trust.

Link to specialist services when necessary

In a crisis, practical help (e.g. housing, food, finances) is usually what is needed first. Not everyone needs counselling or psychological assistance. Be aware of people who are distressed, especially those whose distress continues over time, as they may need specialist help.

Take care of yourself

Big situations often bring up big feelings, at the time and also afterwards. Helping others can be demanding and tiring. Being part of a supportive team can really help. Sometimes it helps to set priorities and accept that you can’t do what you would usually do. Accessing professional support (such as Employee Assistance Program) can help especially if an incident brings up feelings from your own past, or you feel uncertain, overwhelmed or burdened by your role in the situation.

Next time

After responding to a big situation, it’s helpful to review how you and your team have coped. If you want to be better prepared for big situations that may happen in the future, you might like to access the Community Trauma Tool Kit (Emerging Minds) and/or sign up for National Mental Health Education Initiative (Be You) to help you develop a positive, inclusive and resilient learning community. You can also seek support to plan for the future by contacting your Inclusion Professional or contact us to send us an email.

Things to consider when responding to a family violence situation...

  • How confident would you feel responding to a family violence situation?
  • As a mandatory reporter what supports or professional development would be helpful to you and your team?
  • How might a family violence situation impact on a child's engagement, interactions, access and participation? How would you plan for this?
  • What do you do to cope with distressing situations that might happen in the course of your work? How can you be supportive of your team members if their life experiences impact on their work?
  • Considering the diverse ages and needs of all children at your service:
    • How could you teach protective behaviours to all children?
    • How can you promote understanding of child protection issues, responsibilities and protective behaviour with families and your local community?
  • How can policies and procedures support your responses and planning? Do you need to develop or review any policies or procedures?

Resources for preparing or responding

Below is a range of resources that may support you to respond to or be prepared for family violence situations.

Educators icon

Information for educators

Note: Online resources marked # have a quick exit button so they are safer to use.

Information on the impact of family and domestic violence on children.

Families icon

Information for families

Note: Always check first with a parent affected by family violence that it is safe for them to receive information from you. Online resources marked # have a quick exit button so they are safer to use.

Confidential information, counselling and support service to assist people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.

This organisation supports people affected by sexual, domestic or family violence. Provides counselling services that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by telephone or online.

Information on the impact of family and domestic violence on children.

How to get help and support, emergency housing, understanding domestic and sexual violence, sexual consent and the law, legal help, how to stay safe.

Links to ACT services and organisations for people experiencing family violence.

Children's books relating to this big situation

  • Queenie’s little book of comfort by Tanya McQueen and Judi Rhodes
  • I feel scared when mum and dad fight by Tess Rowley

Tip: Look for these books on YouTube if you want to view them before purchasing.

If a family violence situation raises child safety and wellbeing concerns, click here for child safety and wellbeing information and resources.

Being prepared for big situations

Access professional learning modules for educators, or to get the most benefit from Be You, sign up your service to create a learning community and access a Be You consultant from Early Childhood Australia.

Access short courses and resources to help educators support children following a disaster or community trauma.

Stories for reflection

The following story Keeping the focus on children relates to a family violence situation to provide insights and opportunities for reflection to inform your planning and preparation.

Stories for Reflection Family Violence Keeping the focus on children
182.24 KB [pdf]


Links within this website provide a starting point for accessing support and resources and are not exhaustive. If you have any feedback on this resource please contact us.