New modules help adults have tough conversations with young people

Tuned In is a set of six online modules designed for adults working with young people, particularly those working in group settings. Each module is based on evidence and offers practical techniques for ensuring safe and effective facilitation.

Associate Professor Tim Moore, Deputy Director of the Institute of Child Protection Studies and one of the co-designers of the modules says, “For many years, children and young people have told researchers that they value opportunities to talk to adults about their worries, concerns and things that might seem a little sensitive.

“They’ve told us that children and young people are ‘up’ for these conversations but that many adults feel uncomfortable and rather than opening up conversations can try to distract, dismiss, or close down important discussions.”

One young person summed it up this way: ““It feels like adults don't like having sensitive conversations because they don’t like seeing young people in pain, but we need adults to have the conversations.”

To counter this lack of confidence, Associate Professor Tim Moore, Dr Mary Ann Powell and Simon Mitchell from the Institute of Child Protection Studies teamed up with NAPCAN and Run Against Violence to create a series of learning modules. The team drew directly from young people themselves as well as from Australian and international research. The final product is a practical learning model that provides a framework for adults to talk safely and meaningfully about sensitive topics in group settings.

The modules equip adults with knowledge about how to support and empower young people and helps them build confidence in group work. Any adult working with young people can benefit, including:

  • adults delivering respectful relationships education
  • facilitators from a range of settings: police, health workers, youth workers, sexual health workers
  • teachers and school staff
  • facilitators in recreational groups such as Scouts, Girl Guides, PCYC, and sporting clubs.

Tuned In introduces ideas like trauma-informed practice and gives advice on how to help young people. Rather than abandoning discussions for fear that they might cause young people discomfort, it helps adults to talk about things in a way that demonstrate warmth and understanding. It also helps facilitators deal with some of the issues that can pop up – the young people who share too much, provoke conflict, find it hard to contribute, or share that they are being harmed.

The collaboration involved hearing from adults who spend time with groups of young people and people who train those adults, particularly in rural and remote areas. They shared many of the things that they wished they’d known when working with young people as well as little tips that they had picked up along the way.

NAPCAN CEO Leesa Waters says, “We believe that adults can play an important part in preventing abuse and violence and that adult allies can be, as one young person put it, ‘our lifesavers’. We hope that the Tuned In modules help these adult allies to safely and meaningfully engage children.

“Every conversation counts. If the modules open up conversations where young people find a trusted adult and get support, then they’ll be a success!”

The Tuned In modules will be officially launched on Thursday 11 July 2024. They are available as an online course, administered by NAPCAN alongside its suite of training for adults who are serious about working with children and young people to prevent and better respond to abuse and violence.

For more information about the modules and how to enrol email

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