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Having conversations

Having conversations

A toolkit to help adults have preventative conversations about child sexual abuse with children and young people, other adults and organisations.

My name is Shona and I'm a victim-survivor of family and domestic violence and child sexual abuse. I'm also a mum. I have a five year old daughter. I also participate in various advocacy projects.

I think it's important for people to have conversations about child sexual abuse because although it's uncomfortable, I think it's necessary to incite any kind of change. 

I wish that I had a lot more support than I did. I certainly felt like I was flying blind most of the time. My household that I grew up in was definitely a culture around secrecy, and one of the main things I learned very early on was not to discuss what was happening at home with anyone outside of the family. And then on top of that, I felt like I didn't really receive very much education at school, if any.

I think there are a number of ways to create a safe space for children. First of all, it's definitely starting as young as you can and teaching them things in age appropriate ways. So, for example, bodily autonomy, asking, you know, if the child consents to kisses and hugs and things like that. And also it's just active listening, not talking at them, being open to discourse, open to listening to questions and not shaming them, you know, when they ask something that you might be embarrassed about. We don't want to be projecting our own feelings onto that conversation.

I think it's extremely important for adults to be having these conversations with other adults because we need to be normalising these conversations and getting comfortable with the uncomfortable.

If we're not talking about it, then it's just going to continue to breed in silence.

You might not be an expert in the topic but no one knows the kids in your life better than you do. You are the right person to have conversations with children and young people you know about child sexual abuse.

It’s also important to talk to other adults around you. These conversations might feel uncomfortable at first, but they are important. Every conversation helps prevent child sexual abuse.

Shona Keating, survivor and advocate, talks about why it's important to normalise conversations about child sexual abuse and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. This 'conversation toolkit' is designed to help adults start having preventative conversations about child sexual abuse with children and young people, other adults, and with organisations.

Children and young people

Topics and conversation starters to help you talk to preschool-age children, primary school-age children, and teenagers.

Other adults

Ways you can have conversations with other adults in a child or young person’s life, including co-parents and co-carers, relatives and family friends.


Questions and topics you can raise with people providing services to or working with children and young people, including educators, tutors and coaches.

Getting ready to have conversations

Learn about the issue

Key information about child sexual abuse, such as who experiences it and where it can occur, to help you understand your role in protecting children and young people and dispel myths and misconceptions.

Looking after your wellbeing

Tips to help you feel comfortable and ready to have conversations about this topic.


If you or a child are in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).

Information on reporting child safety concerns can be found on our Make a report page.

Get support

The information on this website may bring up strong feelings and questions for many people. There are many services available to assist you. A detailed list of support services is available on our Get support page.