Return to Programs

Age From: 


Age To: 


Delivered To: 

  • Children/Students


  • Component 2 : Social and emotional learning for students


  • Social and emotional skills
  • Personal Safety


Target group:
Professionals working with children and young people, parents, and community groups. Children and young people where appropriate.


Protective Behaviours, a personal safety program, aims to promote resilience in children, young people, and adults, using empowerment strategies, clear communication, and awareness of “safe” behaviours. Ultimately the aim is to reduce violence in our community and prevent child abuse.

The Protective Behaviours program was originally developed as a child abuse prevention program. Today however, Protective Behaviours has a much broader application, not merely focusing on abuse prevention but addressing empowerment, communication, self-esteem, resilience, social skills and other life skills. By teaching and promoting these concepts, Protective Behaviours helps to prevent abuse, reduce violence and promote life-enriching rather than life-depleting experiences. It encourages people to:

  • Assert their right to feel safe
  • Listen to what their body tells them
  • Follow up by taking action to either solve problems on their own or to seek assistance from other people.


The Protective Behaviours program has universal appeal as it can be applied in a range of settings (including health, welfare, education, violence prevention, and crime prevention) to enhance resilience, encourage a positive sense of self, and promote wellbeing.

Theme 1: We all have the right to feel safe all of the time
Discussion of the first theme of Protective Behaviours including shared Rights and Responsibilities, the Continuum of Safety, and early warning signs / Body Signals.

Theme 2: Nothing is so awful that we can’t talk about it with someone
Explores the effects of talking to people about problems, how to talk to people, and how to establish an effective personal network.

The Seven Protective Behaviours Strategies
A range of strategies are used to implement the core ideas of the program:

  1. Theme reinforcement – reinforcing the two themes verbally, visually and by example.
  2. Network review – establishing and regularly reviewing an effective network.
  3. One step removed – using a ‘third person’ approach for problem solving, to seek assistance or to check out someone’s ideas before making a disclosure. This includes role-play, videos, and asking for help on behalf of another person.
  4. Protective interrupting – any action we take to interrupt a potentially unsafe situation. This includes keeping children safe from making inappropriate public disclosures.
  5. Persistence – persisting in seeking help until we feel safe again and our body signals have gone away.
  6. Risking on purpose – deliberately choosing to take a risk when we desire the possible outcome (e.g. going for a job interview). This also involves remembering and honouring our responsibilities towards the safety of others.
  7. The language of safety – while this is one of the seven Protective Behaviours strategies, it is discussed at the beginning of the training, as it provides the platform for the entire program.

Program Structure / Methods of Delivery: 

The Protective Behaviours program comprises four sets of lesson plans that enable teachers to teach and reinforce protective behaviours at four developmental levels: prep, level 1&2, level 3&4 and level 5&6. The lesson plans provide teachers with a variety of activities to choose from when implementing the program. The lesson plans are not meant to provide a prescriptive, structured curriculum program of activities, but rather to give ideas for adaptation within a classroom context, and also for targeted work with individual students. Teachers may choose to use small groups, team teaching with other teachers or parents, formal and informal sessions, environments other than the classroom and any other method that suits their teaching style which is in keeping with the program content and strategies.

Staff professional learning (PL):
Protective Behaviours training is provided to all professionals and community groups working with children and young people. Information sessions and workshops are provided to Parents, School and Community groups and some groups of young people where it is deemed appropriate.

(The CPS in Victoria does not do many group sessions directly with children or young people due to the belief that it can encourage the young person to feel responsible for adult behaviours or it can move a young person beyond their developmental or comfort levels within a group setting. PB’s is however used in one to one counselling with children and young people.)

The principles and activities of Protective Behaviours are then worked into the curriculum and school policies once training has been completed by staff.

There are several levels of Protective Behaviours training currently provided.These are:

Level One:
A one-day introductory training session enabling participants to use the strategies with others, for example in classrooms or in one to one counselling. (The structure of the day is outlined in the above Outline of Program Content).

NSW also offers a two day training workshop which includes Protective Behaviours and one of two alternatives; either a full day implementation of the program and action planning or Child Protection and legislation alongside Protective Behaviours.

Level Two:
A two-day train-the-trainer workshop, which teaches basic training and presentation skills relevant to teaching the Protective Behaviours program. Professionals are encouraged to take this level if they are interested in developing their Protective Behaviours role further as it creates more possibilities for them to train colleagues therefore enabling Protective Behaviours to be further implemented across schools and workplaces.

Level Three:
The process of accreditation to become a Protective Behaviours trainer. This involves the supervised delivery of a Protective Behaviours Level One training session.

In order for Protective Behaviours to be implemented within a school, it is preferable that all professional staff complete Level One training. It is best for an entire staff group to complete the training together as this creates a group learning experience and provides a staff group with the opportunity to plan interventions and processes together. Differing states, however, also provide an open training day for a variety of education staff and professionals on a term-by-term basis. The cost of the training will be dependant on the organisation, the numbers of participants and the distance to be travelled by the facilitator. The program in Victoria, however, is endorsed and funded by the Department of Education and Training, which makes the program affordable for schools.


Protective Behaviours Lesson Plans – (P, 1-2, 3-4, 5-6):

  • $25 ea.
  • $77 set.

Level One training costs vary depending on the location of the venue and the number of participants. Generally the cost ranges from $35 to $45 per participant. This price includes training fees, training manual, Level One certificate and follow-up support/consultation.

Protective Behaviours also has a wide range of materials and resources to support the facilitation of this program.

Program Specific Audience: 


Structured Sessions: 


Student Assessment Measures: 


Professional Learning: 

  • Professional Learning Available

Professional Learning Compulsory: 


Formal Parent/Carer Component Provided: 

Evidence of Effectiveness

Evidence of Effectiveness Rating: 


Evidence of Effectiveness Description: 

(According to criteria developed by CASEL for rating program effectiveness.) No evaluations were submitted that met the inclusion criteria.

Identified Theoretical Framework: 


Identified Theoretical Framework Description: 

Activities involved in the training and implementation of Protective Behaviours are both didactic and experiential. Concepts such as self-talk, thoughts, feelings and behaviours have a cognitive basis whilst scenarios around the concepts of the continuum of safety, body signals and unwritten rules are based in action methods.

Survey/Audit Tools Available: 



Children’s Protection Society (2004). Building blocks to safe schools. Melbourne, Australia: Author.



Di Margetts

Contact Information: 

  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
    Margie Hourigan
    Phone: 0410 216 529
  • New South Wales (NSW)
    Alicia Moore
    Phone: (02) 9699 3377
  • Northern Territory (NT)
    Libby Andrew
    Phone: 0427 242 167
  • Queensland (QLD)
    No current representation 
  • South Australia (SA)
    No current representation
  • Tasmania (TAS)
    Petalynne Hay
    Phone: 0409 960 480
  • Victoria (VIC)
    No current representation
  • Western Australia (WA)
    Andrea Muslin
    Phone: 0409 071 068