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Words and Pictures: Creating connection, belonging and safety for children and young people

Event Details
Date: 29 & 30 November 2022
Time: 1pm - 4pm AEDT
Venue: Online
CPD hrs: 6 hours
CPD Category: 2 - Skills and Knowledge

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Organiser: AASW


(03) 9320 1000

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Working with vulnerable children requires social workers to engage with many family members and professionals in complex and heart-wrenching circumstances. Social workers may be supporting children to stay at home, to be reunified with their families, or working with those who are in long-term out of home care. In all of these circumstances, the safety and healing of the child depends on strengthening their sense of connection and belonging with their family, community and culture, together with the carers they might be living with.

The Words and Pictures methodology is an integral part of safety planning within the Signs of Safety approach to child protection and has other relevant applications in a range of clinical settings. This methodology uses simple words and stick figures to empower parents to explain complex situations to children without creating blame or shame.

Led by an experienced and passionate child protection professional, this 2-part virtual workshop will introduce participants to Words and Pictures, establish its efficacy in child protection practice, and provide opportunities to practice developing Words and Pictures in response to case studies. In this small group environment, participants will benefit from personalised support and build connections with their peers through class discussion and breakout activities.

Who should attend? Social workers who work with vulnerable children and their families in child protection, child welfare or family support contexts. This workshop is suitable for social workers of all levels of experience.

6 hours of CPD activity: Category 2, skills and knowledge
AASW Credentials: Child Protection, Clinical

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this program, participants will be able to:

  • Identify how the Words and Pictures methodology recognises and incorporates the emotional, developmental, psychological and physical safety needs of children, young people and adults
  • Utilise the Words and Pictures methodology to simplify complex messages in situations where children have experienced trauma
  • Identify strategies to actively involve children and families in telling the story of their situation, including principles of trauma informed practice
  • Critically evaluate their own Words and Pictures work, ensuring the narrative & its development aligns with social work values and offers families consistency, clarity and respect.


Penelope Turnell (B Psych Hons) has 11 years' experience as a government child protection practitioner in Western Australia, working predominantly with vulnerable and at-risk children in remote communities. While working as a child protection practitioner, the statutory agency implemented Signs of Safety as its safety planning model. After using Signs of Safety with her own clients and experiencing its effectiveness in her own practice, Pene became a licensed Signs of Safety trainer and consultant in 2014. In 2019, Pene became the inaugural Executive Director of Signs of Safety Practice at Elia International (the home of Signs of Safety).

The focus of Pene’s work is bringing parents, children and safety networks to the centre of safety planning. Pene is passionate about creating Words and Pictures explanations and rigorous safety plans with parents in the most challenging cases and has learnt many of her skills directly from Susie Essex - the English Family Therapist who created the method. Pene’s training is dynamic, inspiring and practical, grounded in examples of work she has been directly involved in.

Pene now runs her own child protection consultancy practice Turnell Plus. Her primary work focuses on whole system implementations of the Signs of Safety in the Northern Territory, Ireland, and Wungening Moort in Western Australia. Pene has presented her work in Australia, North America, Europe, the UK, and Asia

Location and date

Live online: a Zoom link will be emailed to you prior to the workshop
29 & 30 November 2022
1.00pm - 4.00pm AEDT


Members: $440.00 (including GST)
New grad, retired and student member: $390.00 (including GST)
Non-members: $495.00 (including GST)


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*Please note, registrations close 28 November 2022 at midnight AEDT

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers