6th Asia Pacific Safe & Together™ Model Conference

The Safe & Together Institute, together with Berry Street, The Centre for Excellence in Child & Family Welfare and Safe and Equal, are proud to partner to bring you the 6th Asia Pacific Safe & Together™ Model Conference.

We are excited to announce that, after two years, the conference will be an in-person event.

Featuring David Mandel, Executive Director, Safe & Together Institute, we are developing a program that will showcase a range of international and local speakers who will share how they are implementing the Safe & Together™ Model, how it is influencing their practice and enhancing the safety and wellbeing of children. 

The program will be rich in content and interesting to all levels of familiarity with the Model, including attendees of prior conferences, professionals who have undergone training and those new to the model. It will include keynote presentations, concurrent sessions that focus on skill building and discussion as well as networking opportunities. We will also be offering pre-conference masterclasses to kick-start your learning journey.

Need justification for attending? We’ve got you covered! Click here.


KEYNOTE: Responding Effectively to Coercive Control

Dr Emma Katz, Ph.D.

(Delivered ‘live’ via ZOOM from the UK)

This Keynote will explore the new, innovative work that is taking place around coercive control. Coercive control is a severe but often hidden form of abuse. It involves situations where a perpetrator subjects their partner or family member to persistent, wide-ranging controlling behaviour over a long period of time and makes it clear that standing up for themselves will be punished. By repeatedly punishing their partner/family member for non-compliance, the perpetrator intends to demoralise and terrorise them into a state of permanent obedience, stripping them of their ability to freely participate in their communities and to make basic choices for themselves. Coercive controllers use multiple tactics of abuse, and every tactic harms the lives of any children in the family as well as the lives of adult victim-survivors. The experiences of adults and children subjected to coercive control are highly similar, and children and adults should be considered co-victims and co-survivors.

After exploring the dynamics and tactics of coercive control and their impacts on victims-survivors, this Keynote will emphasise the following points: it is the abuser, not the relationship, that is the cause of the abuse, and it is the abuser who is responsible for the harms experienced by any children in the family. Perpetrators are making a parenting choice to have their child grow up in a family dominated by coercive control. Responses to domestic abuse by systems and individual professionals must identify the abuser’s pattern of abusive behaviour as the source of the danger and harm. Because separation rarely brings about safety for the adult and child survivors, and most coercive controllers are determined to continue their coercive control post-separation, responses to abusers must focus on meaningfully disrupting and blocking the abuser’s willingness and ability to continue to be abusive. Both adult and child victims and survivors require not only meaningful safety from the abuser, but also the freedom, support and resources to make their own choices and to thrive in the aftermath of abuse.

KEYNOTE: Our Men Our Sheilds

Jack Bulman, CEO, Mibbinbah, will speak about their work with Aboriginal men around fatherhood and family violence.

Our work supports and celebrates the roles of mothers, fathers and extended family in ensuring the health and well-being of children. When men’s roles and responsibilities are either not acknowledged or denied, the very foundations of our societies are disrupted and our cultural ways of rearing children in nurturing homes are denied.
As an Aboriginal man, I have first-hand knowledge of what our people endure: jails full of our people; our children being removed at unprecedented rates across the country; our identity and culture publicly trashed again and again; and the violent, soul-destroying experience of daily racism.
The organisation I established and continue to work for, Mibbinbah, is Australia’s only national Indigenous male health promotion charity. For more than 15 years, Mibbinbah has undertaken a range of activities to support and strengthen Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men’s and boys’ groups and their communities across Australia.

KEYNOTE: “Why does she keep choosing him over her children?” How to stop blaming mothers, ignoring fathers and fix the way we keep children safe from domestic violence

David Mandel, Safe & Together Model founder
We live in a world where, consistently, mothers are still blamed for the harm violent fathers create for children and families. Fathers’ behaviours and choices, positive and negative, and their impact on child and family functioning are underappreciated or outright ignored.

As part of the prelaunch of his forthcoming book, “Why does she keep choosing him over her children?” David will examine some of the professional “myths” that interfere with societal and systemic change and some of the steps to fix the systems charged with keeping children safe from domestic violence.

KEYNOTE: The Four Pillars of “Failure to Protect” Culture

David Mandel, Safe & Together Model founder
“Failure to Protect” culture holds mothers responsible for the behaviours of their abusive male partners. These practices are inefficient, ineffective, unfair and unethical. Drawing from his upcoming book “Why does she keep choosing him over her children,” David outlines “failure to protect culture,” its limitations and impact, and his suggestions for ending the use of “failure to protect” in domestic violence cases.


The KODY Project: Fathering intervention at the intersection of family violence and substance abuse
Raelene Lesniowska, Kids First Australia
Anne Tidyman, Daniella Wilson & Dave Kwame Arthur, Odyssey House Victoria

Problematic alcohol and other drug (AOD) use increases the likelihood, severity, and continuation of domestic and family violence (DFV) and is associated with hostile and abusive parenting. These intersecting problems have implications for victim-survivor’s safety and wellbeing, most of whom are women and children. However, interventions addressing these problems are typically delivered by different sectors, with little collaboration. Neither sector is well equipped to address the intersection of both issues, or adequately incorporate children’s voices, whose needs are at risk of remaining invisible in the face of father’s parent-centred choices. 

The 4th National Action Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children urges a more targeted intersectional approach, which addresses the specific needs of men accessing DFV programs. The KODY project, comprising the Caring Dads (Kids First Australia) intervention for fathers, Kids in Focus (Odyssey House Victoria) intervention for whole of family, and cross-sectorial collaboration via the adult AOD sector, examines the efficacy of a partnership approach to addressing the complexity of father’s use of DFV, in the context of AOD use (and other aspects of intersectionality) in more nuanced ways. 

S&T’s critical components and multiple pathways to harm will be used to highlight: 

  • Intersectoral practice implications, case studies and outcomes of the KODY project, and recommendations for similar interventions. 
  • How the shared language and understanding of S&T enables cross-sectoral work and capacity building that enhances the ability to intervene with fathers typically considered too complex for a business-as-usual approach to their use of DFV and AOD.

The path to Rainbow Tick accreditation: The Safe & Together Model in practice at Berry Street
Sue Hermans, Lani Pereira & Jac Dwyer, Berry Street

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence highlighted a need for Victorian specialist family violence services to become more family violence proficient in their work with LGBTIQA+ communities and families. Recommendation 167 of the Royal Commission into Family Violence required all funded family violence services to achieve Rainbow Tick accreditation. 

In 2018 Berry Street’s Specialist Family Violence Services and Restoring Childhood programs embarked on a journey towards Rainbow Tick accreditation, achieving Rainbow Tick in 2021. 

This presentation will explore how Safe & Together and Rainbow Tick have worked together to support Berry Street’s Northern Specialist Family Violence Service (NSFVS) to enact family violence-informed practice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) victim-survivors.

Embedding Domestic Violence informed practice across Child and Youth Protection Services – supporting the transfer of theory to practice
Ali Trewhella & Lauren Ellerton, Community Services Directorate, ACT Government

Child and Youth Protection Services (CYPS) in the ACT commenced training in the Safe & Together Model in June 2021. The CYPS Case Analysis team, reviews and analyses cases at key decision-making points and/or during periods of perceived heightened risk for a child or young person. Since completing training in the Safe & Together Model, the team have incorporated the key principles of the model into analysis reports; including focusing on mapping a perpetrator’s coercive control and actions to harm, identifying the full spectrum of the non-offending parent’s efforts to promote child safety and wellbeing, highlighting the impact of the perpetrator’s behaviour on the child, integrating intersections and intersectionality’s, documenting survivor strengths and demonstrating best practice in documentation. This focus has enabled the Case Analysis team to demonstrate to staff; how the Safe & Together Model and principles can be applied to practice and support case management teams to consider how they could partner with the survivor and hold a perpetrator accountable for their behaviour and decisions. 

This presentation will provide a case example to demonstrate how this team have integrated theory to practice and are supporting the broader workforce to strengthen the agency’s response to family violence.

“The Last Drop”: A Sci-Fi Film Designed to Educate Young People About Coercive Control

The Last Drop is a short sci-fi film about relationship abuse inspired by the memories of real survivors. A young woman links minds with her boyfriend to relive their favorite shared memories— but when she spots overlooked signs of abuse, she must escape before he can manipulate her memories in his favor. The film is designed to fill the glaring gap in educational material about coercive control for young people. Ruth Reymundo Mandel, the Safe & Together Institute’s Communication and Strategic Relationship Manager, and writer/director, Adam Joel, discuss the ground-breaking elements of the film, including:
– the power of storytelling to connect and empower survivors. Writer/Director, Adam Joel, will share the communal storytelling method he used to combine his own experience as a survivor with input from other survivors and experts.

– the innovative choice to use science fiction to reach younger audiences and highlight the hidden signs of coercive control.
– the partnership between S&TI (an Executive Producer of The Last Drop) and the filmmakers to distribute this film to the people who need it most.

Join us to learn how The Last Drop could be a powerful learning tool and conversation starter for your work in the field of abuse prevention, education, social work, and more!

Using the Web-Based Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool to Embed Safe & Together into Your Agency
Heidi Rankin, Safe & Together Institute

For years, practitioners have depended on the Safe & Together Institute Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool to change practice and change lives of adult and child domestic violence survivors. In the past, access to the tool required attendance in our CORE training. No longer. After a two-year development process, the Safe & Together Institute has launched a web-based version of the tool that is immediately accessible online to any practitioner. This workshop will provide an overview of the new version of the tool and its applications. The workshop will highlight how key aspects of the tool, including new content, built-in coaching and fidelity checks; and how its use supports the implementation of the Model and systems change.

Where to from here? System transformation as an iterative process
Bec Shearman, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs, QLD
Michele Robinson, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS)

This workshop brings together leaders in DFV research and policy to explore how a series of ANROWS research projects that used the Safe & Together framework have influenced the implementation of evidence-based child safety policy and practice reform in Queensland. The current changing policy landscape in Queensland, as well as the context and agenda set by The National Plan to End Violence against Women and Children 2022-2032, offers a unique moment to reflect on how this transformation has shed light on new gaps and challenges.

Through an exploration of the experience in Queensland over the last five years, this workshop will highlight emerging challenges, and ask participants to share experiences from other jurisdictions. These include:

  • Recruitment of skilled professionals and attrition of trainers
  • Resourcing and support of ongoing coaching and mentoring (beyond training)

Working in a system that is historically calibrated to default to a focus on the non-offending parent – particularly when the non-offending parent is more accessible and engaged

  • Expanding the Safe & Together framework and learnings to other relevant service system areas, in recognition of the wide range of possible points of intervention with the offending parent

After discussion with participants, the workshop will conclude with a turn to the future, by considering other evidence that can complement and support the Safe & Together model in its application in local, changing contexts.

MATCLA (Multi Agency Triage & Case Lead Allocation) and WWD (Walking With Dads), NEXT STEPS
Leanne Downes & Peter Thorpe, Dpt of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs, QLD
Priscilla Thorpe, Integrated Family & Youth Services

ATCLA (Multi-Agency Triage & Case Lead Allocation) and WWD (Walking With Dads) NEXT STEPS: A systems & perpetrator accountability behavioural disruption model focuses on

• Delivering risk management/fathering plans that are adult and child victim/survivor-led, via a cyclical feedback process.
• Enhanced perpetrator accountability through increased use of collaborative responses
• Increased confidence in sector to engage perpetrators at various touchpoints
• Increased use of community and kin networks to disrupt behaviours, hold fathers accountable, and maintain ongoing risk management
• Work to create change with fathers who perpetrate violence, decrease risk, and increase safety WWD have developed a “NEXT STEPS” approach forming a partnership with the local Integrated Service Response model on the Sunshine Coast, MATCLA.

The Safe & Together framework underpins WWD and the MATCLA model. MATCLA member agencies participated in CORE Safe & Together training in 2020 to enhance coordinated domestic violence-informed integrated service responses. The MATCLA model is designed to coordinate the Sunshine Coast service system with a particular focus on perpetrators to manage and reduce the risk they pose to adult and child survivors/victims. The model is also designed to strengthen culturally safe responses to all family members and prioritise children as primary victims of domestic violence by focusing on perpetrators and how they impact children’s lives. The Next Steps Project seeks to change the narrative of perpetrator work to centre on the mother and child where the victim/survivors’ voices, views and wishes are sought and centralised throughout the intervention.

Safe & Together, ISR and a youth mentor programme – weaving together a multi-agency response to family violence
Zara Robson & Val Carter, Home and Family (NZ)

This interactive workshop will demonstrate how the model has enabled effective and consistent practice for Home & Family’s front-line team, with a deeper dive into how it influenced the development of a mentor programme for children and young people using violent behaviour within the family. Referrals to this programme come via the Integrated Safety Response (ISR). ISR is a multi-agency intervention designed to ensure the immediate safety of victims and children and to work with perpetrators to prevent further violence. ISR intends to take a whole-of-family approach, putting the risk and needs of family at the centre of the response. The operational delivery of ISR is hosted by Police as part of the broader Government work on family and sexual violence. Key features of ISR include dedicated staff, funded specialist services for victims and perpetrators, daily risk assessment and triage, family safety plans, an electronic case management system and an intensive case management approach to collectively work with high-risk families. Zara has been awarded a Safe & Together Champion Award for Case Practice.

The Safe & Together Book – interviewing survivors and practitioners
David Mandel, Safe & Together Institute | Deb Nicholson, Deb Nicholson Consulting

When David Mandel first envisioned writing the Safe & Together book – “Stop Blaming Mothers and Ignoring Fathers” – he couldn’t imagine not including the voices of survivors who have been impacted both by perpetrators’ behaviours and the response of systems. Nor could he leave out the voices of practitioners whose work has been transformed by the Safe & Together Model and who are championing its game-changing approach around the world. David believes that the Model is nothing without the practitioners who practice it, nor can its effectiveness be truly measured without hearing from survivors impacted by professionals’ use of the Model. Early in the book’s development, David decided to interview practitioners and survivors to hear their stories and their impressions of the Model. Over a period of three months during 2022 Deb Nicholson interviewed practitioners and survivors from Australia, the UK and the USA. In this workshop, David and Deb discuss the methodology and results of the interviews, and what this might mean for future development of the Model.

Creating Ecosystems of support for Survivors & Perpetrator behaviour change using Safe & Together Tools
Ruth Reymundo Mandel, Safe & Together Institute

“Still to come”


Nobody said it was going to be easy – Shifting to family violence-informed organisational practice
Taran Dhillon, Anne Tidyman & Emma Shaw, Odyssey House Victoria

Odyssey House Victoria (OHV) provides alcohol and other drugs (AOD) treatment across metropolitan and regional areas in Victoria. In the last four years, OHV started embedding family violence-informed practice in AOD clinical work. This was spurred on by the Victorian state-wide family violence reforms along with the Safe & Together Model. OHV employs over 200 AOD clinicians, and the work is spread across a wide stream of programs which includes child and family, community-based treatment and residential rehabilitation services. OHV’s work intersects with multiple sectors, including family violence, mental health, child protection services, criminal justice, housing and disability. This space has provided OHV with an opportunity to bring a family violence lens to risk assessment and management, treatment planning, care team meetings and broader advocacy to recontextualise family violence in a client’s presentation. The journey so far has presented peaks, pits and multiple challenges. However, a laser-focused vision of practice that is ethical, partners with adult survivors, keeps perpetrators accountable and is child-centred has led OHV on the journey to grow towards family violence-informed proficient practice. Join three practice leads who have been at the centre of shifting practice across OHV for a candid conversation that reflects on the last four years of promoting organisational change using the Safe and Together Model in AOD work.

Practice Developments from ESTIE: documentation and new resource
Cathy Humphreys & Margaret Kertesz, University of Melbourne
Cherie Toivonen, Director, CLT Byron Consulting

In this workshop, we draw from the ESTIE research (Evidence to Support Safe & Together Implementation and Evaluation) to focus on the issue of documentation and the broader range of practice issues that emerge at the intersection of DFV with AOD and MH. In addition to a short presentation, a panel will discuss the ways in which documentation is a core practice in addressing patterns of coercive control and an important aspect of an ethical service response. The learnings from the ESTIE project are encapsulated in a practice resource and quick reference guide that will also provide further touch points for participants interested in the nuances of practice where complexities are evident not only for family members but also the traditionally siloed service system. The ESTIE project funded by the Ministry of Health, NSW was an action research project exploring work at the intersection of DFV with AOD and Mental Health. Managers and senior practitioners in Local Health Districts worked with researchers and S&T consultants to explore practice developments informed by the S&T model. Communities of Practice with practitioners from DFV, AOD, and MH formed the heart of the project bringing their practice experience to shape the practice-led learning at the intersection of DFV with these complex issues. A senior Aboriginal consultant bought her cultural wisdom and expertise to the second stage of the project to highlight the importance of cultural safety in all practice responses.

Post-separation coercion – unpacking testimonial injustice and weaponisation of traumatic experiences of victim-survivors.
Ancy Dsouza & Tara Lees, Desert Blue Connect

Leaving a violent relationship should signify the beginning of safety and autonomy for victim-survivors and their children. Unfortunately, for many victim-survivors, it provokes new and often imperceptible patterns of control whereby perpetrators manipulate and weaponize the very systems meant to facilitate safety in their continued coercion and exploitation of victim-survivors. Utilising the Safe & Together Model mapping tool, perpetrator patterns of post-separation coercion and manipulation have become more identifiable to practitioners within Desert Blue Connect, a family violence service located in the Midwest of Western Australia. Within this service the comprehensive assessment of perpetrator patterns of behaviour coupled with exploring victim survivors’ power-threat-meaning-response has highlighted ongoing systemic injustice experienced by victim-survivors in their challenge to create safety for themselves and their children. Three case studies will be presented that highlight victim survivor’s experiences of post-separation coercion and systemic injustice. Each case study demonstrates diverse and nuanced examples of how perpetrators and systemic ideologies continue to exert trauma on victim-survivors. The ongoing manifestation of victim survivor’s trauma and threat responses can further exacerbate the epistemic and testimonial injustice they experience in seeking separation and safety.

Giving Sound to the Silenced.  Using Lived Experience to Expose Failures in our Family Law System!
Jane Matts, Sister’s in Law Project

This presentation will focus on the work of the Sister’s in Law Project (SILP), a national organisation, explain how intelligent and brave women, protective parents, have survived terrible injustices in our Australian family law system. It explores how they manage life before and after their family law events. So many are silenced, traumatised and cannot explain their experiences because of the legislative constraints of s121 of the Family Law Act,1975. This paper will use scenario-based examples with end-to-end results of survivors in the family law system, incorporating failures of the Magellan process and the limitations of the Light House project. This presentation uses the same case reporting style as applied by Jess Hill in her award-winning book ‘See What You Made Me Do’. There are lessons to be learnt as the presentation will explore the difference between the espoused values of the court versus reality. Lack of knowledge by participants in this system, the mismanagement of trauma, the poor management of child protection matters and the gaslighting of players in this adversarial system are noted. The paper acknowledges some positives observed of the family law system but recommends better processes for keeping women and children safe, and the dire need for safer legal conduct by all professionals in this jurisdiction.

Self Care for Practitioners: Using the Concept of Partnering with Survivors to Promote Worker Health and Well-Being
David Mandel & Ruth Reymundo Mandel, Safe & Together Institute

Working with domestic violence means professionals come into contact daily with complex & challenging trauma. The Safe & Together Model’s concept of Partnering with Survivors offers an efficient, effective, ethical and safe way to engage protective parents. Working with domestic violence survivors may confront professionals with their own prior experiences, uncover where their strengths or needs were not acknowledged and can even trigger their own experiences of trauma.

In this workshop, participants will:

Learn the six steps of Partnering  and discuss the following questions: 

  • What is my experience with being partnered with in my own life?   
  • What are the values, practices and personal responsibilities associated with partnering?
  • What strengths do I bring to the partnering process? 
  • What judgments do I have that get in the way of partnering?   
  • What beliefs and experiences have I had that make it hard for me to partner with survivors?
  • What do I need to change in my attitudes and beliefs so I can most effectively partner with survivors?

As a result of this workshop, participants will be better prepared to partner with survivors, and also learn how the partnering process can support the healing and nourishment for practitioners and workers as well.

Safe & Together and the Family Court: creating a shared narrative of family violence
Joanna Pettett & Celia Conlan, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA)

With an ever-increasing majority of parenting matters involving issues of Family Violence, The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (FCFCOA) sought out a framework to better understand and respond to this important issue. Enter the Safe & Together Model, providing a foundation of shared understanding and shared language regarding Family Violence for Judicial Officers and social scientists alike to draw on to support their work with families at all stages of the Family Law Pathway. 

This presentation will follow the journey of a family as they progress through the Family Law Pathway. It will highlight how the Safe and Together Model guides and assists the decisions and assessments of different Court professionals and supports a shared language and understanding of Family Violence between them; the outcome being a more informed and responsive Court.

Clinician perspectives on domestic violence-informed child-centred practice: key learnings, challenges and opportunities in supporting child safety and wellbeing 
Victoria Marshall & Chad Chan, Berry Street

This presentation will share key learnings, challenges, and opportunities in supporting child safety and wellbeing from the perspectives of clinicians working therapeutically with victim-survivors of family violence. 

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence established in 2015 highlighted the lack of specialist therapeutic family violence services supporting children and young people. The Northern Healing and Recovery Program (NHARP) program arose in this context and works therapeutically with victim-survivors of family violence, including infants, children, young people, and their caregivers, while maintaining a focus on their safety. Clinical practice in NHARP incorporates key principles from the Safe and Together model, including child-centred practice, partnering with the non-offending parent, healing from trauma, and keeping the person using violence in view. 

NHARP clinicians undertake complex work involving risk assessment and management, therapeutic assessment and intervention, and systems engagement and advocacy. The perspectives of clinicians working in this relatively new and highly innovative program responding to the needs of victim-survivors of family violence offer key learnings for the sector in relation to domestic violence-informed child-centred practice. From the perspective of clinicians on the front line, how is best practice evolving in this space, what challenges have been encountered, and what opportunities are identified for the future? What systemic changes are needed, and what kinds of strategies might be adopted in pursuit of these?  This presentation will make a valuable contribution to local and international dialogue that aims to develop and strengthen domestic violence-informed child-centred practice.

The invisible made visible. Using documentation to highlight domestic violence and shift responsibility back to the perpetrator   
Grace Hong & Stephanie Phung, Barnardos Australia

Separation can be one of the most dangerous times for survivors of domestic and family violence (DFV). Children and young people continue to experience and be exposed to DFV after the perpetrator no longer lives at home. Children and young people are often being targeted or used as a weapon of the perpetrators’ ongoing coercive control during custody battles. Our Australian legal system often puts victim-survivors of domestic violence at greater risk where these behaviours have not been identified and effectively documented. 

Barnardos Australia has adopted the Safe & Together (S&T) model as an organisation-wide strategy and framework driving our approach to child safety and wellbeing in the context of DFV since 2019. In the last 12 months there has been a strong focus on this model, with training put in place for caseworkers. Our implementation of the perpetrator pattern-based approach has guided caseworkers to clearly map out the perpetrator’s patterns of violent behaviours; to highlight the protective efforts of the non-offending parent; and to describe the impact of the violence on the children and family functioning. An internal support guide and an array of documentation templates were developed to support new and existing caseworkers on how to write these documents. This promotes documentation using a DFV-safe approach.

This workshop will showcase two in-depth case studies highlighting use of the support guide and documentation template, which resulted in very positive outcomes for the children and adult survivors in Family Law Court proceedings and their ongoing needs.

It’s a Child’s Right to be Safe! Incorporating Safe and Together into Practice, Policy, and Advocacy through a Child Rights Lens     
Peta Nichol & Cherie Conovan, 54 Reasons | Howard Choo, Save the Children Australia

54 reasons (part of the Save the Children group) will share our journey in implementing the Safe & Together Model in the context of our organisation’s overarching child rights-based approach.  As enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, a child rights approach includes: centering children’s experiences; valuing and respecting children in their own right; responding to children and supporting their development holistically and in the context of their ecologies; taking children and their views seriously; and being accountable to children. The Safe & Together Model is strongly aligned with these principles.

In 2022, 54 reasons commenced the creation of a single operating model to unite our approach to domestic and family violence work across the country, with the Safe & Together framework as the central feature of the model.  Although complex due to the wide variety of services this includes, at the forefront is a commitment to ensure that children and young peoples’ experience of domestic and family violence is universally understood and addressed within our practice, policy and advocacy areas as a deliberate and sustained threat to their safety, stability and wellbeing.     

Drawing on the insights of our service delivery and practice model enables us to advocate for broader system change.  We will share our child rights approach to promoting the principles of the Safe & Together Model through our advocacy for policy reform and system change across domestic and family violence, child protection and family support service systems.


MASTERCLASS 1: Applying a Perpetrator Pattern-Based Approach in Family Court Context

David Mandel

Family courts are charged with balancing child safety with meaningful relationships with both parents. What does this mean in the context of domestic violence? In many instances, courts are not clearly presented with the perpetrators’ patterns and the specifics of the harm it has caused, and emphasis on collaborative parenting can work against the best interests of children in these cases. Drawing on work in family court settings in the United States and Australia, David Mandel, Executive Director and Founder of the Safe & Together Institute, will explore how the Model can be applied in the family court context. This workshop will look at the difference between risk and harm frameworks; the importance of understanding post-separation coercive control and the targeting of professionals and systems as part of perpetrators’ patterns; how to best understand and contextualize protective parenting behaviors; the centrality of a behavioral approach to objectivity and neutrality; and how to increase accountability for perpetrators as parents in the family court context. (This is not an introductory class. While not required, prior knowledge of the Safe & Together Model is beneficial.)

MASTERCLASS 2: Using coaching to increase effective practice and system change?

Heidi Rankin
This session is for Safe & Together Model™ Certified Trainers

Coaching can dramatically increase individual practitioners’ capacity for applying learned skills and tools in their day-to-day practice, as well as help to create a shared language, framework, and practice across agencies, which promotes systems change. In this workshop, specifically designed for Safe & Together Model™ Certified Trainers, participants will learn how to take their expertise in domestic violence-informed practice from the classroom to one-on-one and small-group consultations within their agencies. 

Participants will learn to promote practitioners’ critical thinking, risk and safety assessment, appropriate case planning recommendations, and overall best practices in domestic violence cases.

The workshop will also focus on how Certified Trainers can coach workers in using Safe & Together Model™ tools, such as the Perpetrator Pattern Mapping Tool and the STIM Protocol, in advancing skill and knowledge development that can be applied across a range of cases as well as support practitioners in complex cases with high levels of trauma and safety issues.

MASTERCLASS 3: An Introduction to the Safe & Together Model™ 

Emma Shaw

In this masterclass, participants will be introduced to the Principles, Critical Components, and other key aspects of the paradigm-shifting Safe & Together Model. Participants will learn how the Model’s concepts, skills and tools can transform individual practice, agencies’ culture and systems, and cross-sector collaboration.  Learn about partnering with survivors, keeping children safe and intervening with perpetrators as parents. Participants are guaranteed to leave the session with new practices they can implement immediately. This session is appropriate for professionals from any sector. 


Before the Conference Special!
March 6 & 7 in Melbourne, Australia
Caring Dads Facilitator Training Event

We’re thrilled to announce a special partnership with the Caring Dads organisation!

This is your next opportunity to join the leading international network of clinicians working at the nexus of gender-based violence and fatherhood. Register today and take the first step to become a Caring Dads Facilitator. Receive a 10% discount on the Safe & Together Model 2023 Asia Pacific Conference when you register for the Caring Dads Facilitator Training Event.

Our Sponsors

Join us as a Sponsor or Exhibitor … click here for more information


Mar 09 - 10 2023


9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Local Time

  • Timezone: America/New_York
  • Date: Mar 09 - 10 2023
  • Time: 4:00 am - 12:00 pm



More Info



Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre


  • Lauren Ellerton
    Lauren Ellerton
    Case Analysis Officer

    Lauren Ellerton holds a substantiative position as a Senior Practitioner and currently works as a Case Analysis Officer for the ACT Child and Youth Protection Service (CYPS). Lauren holds a Master of Rehabilitation Counselling and a Master of Professional Psychology and has over a decade of experience in a variety of roles in the child protection field. Lauren also works as a Provisional Psychologist for a private practice in Victoria supporting victim survivors of family violence, and women and children. Lauren is passionate about trauma informed practice and therapeutic models of care.

  • Ali Trewhella
    Ali Trewhella
    Director, Practice Development and Training, ACT Government

    Ali holds a Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) from Monash University and has worked in a variety of roles over the past 15 years; including in hospitals, child protection and youth justice. Ali is the Director of Practice Development and Training for Child and Youth Protection Services in the ACT. Ali has a strong interest in embedding research in practice and designing best practice initiatives that develop the capability of the sector. She has a strong knowledge base of the child protection system from her experiences working directly with children, young people, and families with complex needs both in Australia and in the United Kingdom. More recently, Ali has co-developed and implemented a therapeutic trauma informed service for children in the ACT and a Foundational Program which prepares new child protection practitioners for operational work.

  • Ancy Dsouza
    Ancy Dsouza
    Family Violence Intervention Officer, Desert Blue Connect

    Ancy Dsouza is a passionate and skilled Social Work practitioner who brings a wealth of experience to the family violence sector. Ancy’s education and experience of working with victim-survivors in India has positioned her well to be aware and sensitive to complex cultural, family, community and political issues that might impact on the perpetration and experience of family violence. Since 2017 Ancy has effectively managed an increasingly high and complex case load across two different service roles in Desert Blue Connect (both Family violence Counsellor and Family Violence Intervention Officer in Barndimalgu Court). Ancy has successfully advocated for changes in the court system to have a positive impact on women and children’s safety.

  • Anne Tidyman
    Anne Tidyman
    Manager, Child & Family Services

    Anne Tidyman has a background in nursing, public housing, community development, out-of-home care and alcohol and other drugs and family services. She has volunteered and worked in the community sector for over 20 years with a special interest in working with vulnerable families and communities. Anne has presented at many Child/Family, AOD and Family Violence-related conferences and forums in Australia and overseas about AOD, Family Violence and/or innovative practice with children/families experiencing trauma. She has publications with Dr Menka Tsantefski (Griffith University and formerly University of Melbourne) and has completed specialist training in family violence, she is an Accredited Parenting Under Pressure Therapist; Group Facilitator for Caring Dads and My Kids and Me. Anne is a certified trainer for Safe & Together. Anne manages Child and Family Services, at Odyssey House Victoria.

  • Bec Sherman
    Bec Sherman
    DFV Practice Leader, Office of the Chief Practitioner, Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs Queensland

    Bec Shearman holds a BA (Psych), and Bachelor of Social Work. Bec has worked in multiple roles across the DFV and child safety sector, in both NGO and government organisations. Bec is currently the DFV Practice Leader at the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs. Her leadership roles have encompassed worker supervision & support, service delivery program management & development, training and education, consultation & submissions, informing strategic direction & governance, oversight of internal operations and HR processes. Experience includes:
    -member of the Ministerial Advisory Council to advise on the roll-out of the Qld Strategic Plan to address DFV
    -co-convenor of the Qld DV Court Assistance Network for 5 years
    -member of the Women’s Legal Service Management Committee for 5 years
    -overseeing implementation of the HRT in both Ipswich and Brisbane.
    -oversaw implementation of the revised DFV Practice Standards, the development of the DFV Regulatory Framework, refreshed Perpetrator Intervention Program Requirements and the current state analysis phase of the DFSV Data Project.

  • Celia Conlan
    Celia Conlan
    Senior Judicial Registrar

    Celia Conlan is a Senior Judicial Registrar in the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. She has honed her expertise in Family Law over 20+ years, working as a Barrister and Independent Children’s Lawyer. Celia holds a Masters of Applied Family Law from the College of Law, as well as a Bachelor of Laws from Monash University. In her current role, Celia hears Family Court matters daily, exercising powers to make interim parenting orders, vary and set aside property orders and make location orders and recovery orders.

  • Chad Chan
    Chad Chan
    NHARP (Northern Healing and Recovery Program) Restoring Childhood Clinician

    Chad Chan (they/she) is a Social Worker currently practicing as a Clinician with Take Two in the Northern Healing and Recovery Program. N-HARP offer a therapeutic response to infants, children, young people and caregivers with experiences of family violence, using trauma-informed modalities including Child-Parent Psychotherapy, EMDR, and narrative and play-based approaches. Chad’s previous work includes Specialist Family Violence triage and response to L17 police referrals, Specialist Family Violence case management, community development, facilitation with young people around sex, respect and consent in the primary prevention space, and caring for young people in Out of Home Care. Their practice centres the experiences of children and young people, and is informed by principles of decolonisation, transformative justice and response-based practice, honouring the many different strategies that people use to survive and resist violence and oppression.

  • Danielle Wilson
    Danielle Wilson
    TL Kids in focus Program, Odyssey House Victoria

    Daniella has a background in Child Protection and AOD Specialist Family Services and has worked in the AOD sector for the past 5 years in the KIF team and as KIF Team leader for the past year. Within the team Daniella also has responsibility for the Child Sexual Abuse secondary consults.

    Daniella has worked in the sector for 15 years and is passionate about working with families who have multiple vulnerabilities to enhance the safety and wellbeing of children.

  • Dave Kwame Arthur
    Dave Kwame Arthur
    Senior AOD Clinician, Odyssey House Victoria

    David Kwame Arthur is a Ghanaian/Australian and a AOD Senior Clinician who has been working in the sector for the past 5 years. Dave’s background includes employment services, youth mentorship, sport development and administration. Dave has a special interest in men’s health specifically the intersection of positive fathering and alcohol and other drugs. Dave is an Accredited group facilitator for Caring Dads and was the first AOD co facilitator in the KODY project. Dave is a proud father of 4 and an avid fan of afro beats, soccer and comedy.

  • Deb Nicholson
    Deb Nicholson
    Writing Assistant, Deb Nicholson Consulting

    Deb Nicholson has worked in the domestic violence / violence against women field in Australia and the UK for over three decades as a front line worker, leader, project manager, trainer and consultant. Qualified in social science, welfare practice, coaching and training, Deb has most recently earned a MA in Creative Writing & Wellbeing, and brings a combination of skill and experience to the work of supporting David Mandel to write his first book about the Safe & Together Model. Deb is trained in the Safe & Together CORE.

  • Grace Hong
    Grace Hong
    Centre Manager & Stephanie Phung, Family Support Worker, Barnardos Australia

    Grace Hong is a trained social worker. She has over 18 years of frontline and leadership experience in the field of child protection and early intervention. Her career as a social worker has been dedicated to child welfare and children’s rights as well as advocacy focused on systematic change in the DFV area. Currently, Grace works as a Centre Manager at the Auburn Children’s Family Centre at Barnardos Australia. Grace was part of the first 4 days core training provided through Barnardos in 2019 and has since been the S&T Champion within the organisation. Her role is to support the implementation of the S&T model as well as guiding her employees to embed the principles in everyday frontline casework.

  • Howard Choo
    Howard Choo
    Australian Policy and Advocacy Lead, Save the Children Australia

    Howard Choo leads Save the Children’s and 54 reasons’ policy and advocacy agenda across Australia. In this role, he leads advocacy for policy reform and system change to promote children’s rights, safety and wellbeing. This spans child protection, domestic and family violence, youth justice, child development through disasters and adversity, educational engagement, child rights governance and institutional reform, and other key child-related policy domains.
    Previously, Howard held senior leadership roles in the Victorian Department of Education and Training and the Department of Premier and Cabinet, spanning policy reform, law reform and high level governance, with a focus on strategic policy and system reforms to improve social equity and address disadvantage. Howard is also the Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Victorian Student Representative Council (VicSRC), the peak body representing school-age students in Victoria and a student-led organisation supported by an adult Board and staff team.

  • Jac Dwyer
    Jac Dwyer
    Safe and Together Certified Trainer; Training and Capacity Building Lead, Northern Specialist Family Violence Service, Berry Street

    Jac Dwyer (she/her): Safe and Together Certified Trainer; Training and Capacity Building Lead, Northern Specialist Family Violence Service, Berry Street. For over 10 years Jac has worked in community services across homelessness, health, disability, forensic and specialist family violence workforces supporting both victim survivors and perpetrators of family violence. Jac is passionate about supporting best practice responses to family violence and contributing to a resilient and robust workforce and community that prioritises safety and recovery for adult and child victim survivors and keeps perpetrators in view and accountable. Alongside her role at Berry Street, Jac has a private practice offering group and individual supervision for specialist family violence and related sectors to explore accountability, solidarity and sustainability in their work.

  • Joanna Pettett
    Joanna Pettett
    Senior Court Child Expert/Clinical Policy and Practice Officer

    Joanna Pettett is the Senior Court Child Expert for Tasmania. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work (Hons) from the University of Newcastle and a Master of Social Work (Advanced Practice) from the University of Tasmania. Joanna’s clinical experience is in working with children and families in an assessment and short term case management context; working with the Child Safety Service for over seven years and with the Court Children’s Service for the last six years. She has recently had experience in the development of policy and practice for the Court Children’s Service as Clinical Policy and Practice Officer. As her experience indicates, Joanna has a particular interest in working in government and involuntary contexts where she believes the skills and values of social workers can have a positive and meaningful impact on the experiences of service users.

  • Lani Pereira
    Lani Pereira
    Safe and Together Certified Trainer; Practice Development Manager, Northern Specialist Family Violence Service, Berry Street

    Lani Pereira (she/her): Safe and Together Certified Trainer; Practice Development Manager, Northern Specialist Family Violence Service, Berry Street. Lani has been working in the community services sector for over 15 years with experience working with young people, homelessness services, arts health, settlement services, bush adventure therapy and specialist family violence work. Lani is committed to supporting the community services sector in their capacity to respond to family violence in a way that increases the safety to adult and child victim survivors and holds those choosing violence accountable and in view. She also is consistently learning from the experiences of front-line practitioners, many of whom are victim survivors in their own right.

  • Leanne Downes
    Leanne Downes
    Principal Program Officer Walking with Dads

    Leanne Downes is a Principal Program Officer for the Walking with Dads Program with the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs. The Walking with Dad’s program was developed in response to the identified need to strengthen the engagement of fathers in child protection intervention and as an approach to implementing the Safe & Together (David Mandel) framework as best practice in understanding and responding to families living with domestic and family violence. Leanne is a Certified Trainer of Safe & Together and has worked in the child protection sector for the past 14 years. Leanne has coordinated and facilitated multiple Community of Practice Workshops supporting the application of the Safe and Together Model into practice change across organisations. Leanne holds a Bachelor of Human Services from University of the Sunshine Coast, a Post Graduate Certificate in Child Protection and has studied in the Graduate Certificate in Family Studies through University of NSW.

  • Michele Robinson
    Michele Robinson
    Director, Evidence to Action, ANROWS

    Michele Robinson has extensive experience in building knowledge partnerships and developing strategies for the translation, application and exchange of research evidence to reduce domestic, family and sexual violence. Michele has provided strategic advice to Australian and international governments and peak bodies on legal, policy and practice initiatives to prevent and respond to domestic, family and sexual violence.

    For the last five years in her role as the inaugural Director of Evidence to Action at ANROWS, Michele has led a multidisciplinary team who have had considerable impact on policy and legislative reform in the areas of coercive control, improving police responses to domestic and family violence, and at the intersections between child protection and domestic and family violence services.

  • Peta Nicol
    Peta Nicol
    Practice Development Manager, 54 Reasons (Save the Children Group)

    Peta Nichol is a Practice Development Manager (Family Functioning and Healthy Relationships) within the Practice and Impact Measurement team at 54 reasons. In 2020, she completed the Trainer Certification program for Safe &Together, in 2022 completed an additional supervisor certification, and has been influential in 54 reasons adoption of the framework nationally.
    Peta holds qualifications in Psychology and Creative Therapies and has 30 years’ experience working in the Community Services sector in practitioner and leadership roles within family support, youth work, and domestic and family violence fields across urban, regional, and remote locations (including Aboriginal communities). She is focused on building meaningful connections between research and practice and supporting teams to develop strategies that give the best chance of enable respectful engagement leading to positive outcomes with vulnerable children and their families.

  • Peter Thorpe
    Peter Thorpe
    Walking with Dad’s Program Officer

    Peter has worked in Child Protection for 10 years, with the last 5 years in the Walking with Dads program. The motivation to begin, and continue this work, came from 2 questions. Historically, Child Protection have had limited engaged with fathers and father figures 1. why is this? And 2 how can we do this work safely and effectively? If fathers/father figures making parenting choices to use violence and abuse were the problem, then why do we not work with them? To up upskill his engagement with fathers, Peter became a Caring Dads Facilitator, then completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Domestic and Family Violence with Central Queensland University. Peter’s passion is working on projects with the Walking with Dads Team centred on centred on Integrated Service Responses, perpetrators visibility and being led by victim survivors (mother and children’s voices) to support engagement with fathers/father figures.

  • Priscilla Thorpe
    Priscilla Thorpe
    DFV System Coordinator, Integrated Family and Youth Services

    In her position with IFYS Ltd, Priscilla Thorpe coordinates the Sunshine Coast DFV Service System. She has held this position for the past 3 years, prior to which she spent 14 years with community corrections, supervising clients in the community. She is passionate about safer communities through effective perpetrator accountability, partnering with adult and child survivors and strengthening practitioner skills and confidence with the aim of systems to be more responsive in meeting the needs of service users. Priscilla is committed to inclusive, trauma informed and domestic violence informed practice, and maintains a focus on innovation centred on the voices of First Nations people, and those with lived experiences. Through co-location, meaningful partnerships and collaboration with the Sunshine Coast DFV Sector, across Government and Non-Government services, Priscilla believes that real and lasting positive change is possible.

  • Raelene Lesniowska
    Raelene Lesniowska
    Caring Dads Clinical Leader, Kids First Australia

    Rae Lesniowska has been with KidsFirst Australia for over four years, as a Clinical Facilitator and more recently Clinical Leader of the Caring Dads/KODY (therapeutic family violence) program(s). Rae’s background is in clinical psychology and running trauma-informed parenting programs and projects for six years at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service, following 13 years working in public health policy for the Victorian government. She has undertaken research regarding maternal parenting and fatigue, and Koori parenting and fathering in the context of intergenerational trauma, culminating in two published papers and community resources for Koori parents. Rae is passionate about parenting and supporting child and family wellbeing and safety by assisting fathers to work on their change goals and child-centred parenting, via the Caring Dads program, which is closely aligned with the principles and practices of the Safe & Together model.

  • Sue Hermans
    Sue Hermans
    Safe & Together Certified Trainer; Clinical Team Leader, Take Two and Restoring Childhood, Berry Street

    Sue Hermans (she/her): Safe and Together Certified Trainer; Clinical Team Leader, Take Two and Restoring Childhood, Berry Street. Sue is a social worker and family therapist. She has been working with children, families and support systems effected by trauma and violence for 30 years providing therapeutic interventions. Sue has been with Take Two since 2010 assisted DFFH to establish the Child Protection Principal Practitioner role in the Mallee in 2017 before returning to Take Two in a leadership role for the Mallee. Sue lecturers in Family and Systemic Therapy Masters program and has a passion for integrating theories of practice.

  • Tara Less
    Tara Less
    Operations Manager, Desert Blue Connect

    Tara Lees is Operations Manager at Desert Blue Connect; a non-government agency situated in the Midwest region of Western Australia.
    Tara is a social worker with over 20 years’ experience working in various contexts of welfare rights, health, palliative care and with families and children.
    Among Tara’s social work interests are how social policy influences non-government operating contexts, as well as intersections between the socio-political environment and counselling therapies.

  • Taran Dhillon
    Taran Dhillon
    Programs Coordinator

    Taran Dhillon works at Odyssey House Victoria as the Program Coordinator in the North West Catchment. She has 22 years of experience working across community AOD treatment agencies, addiction medicine departments, family services, schools and prisons. Taran’s current work includes working with parents with AOD issues who are working towards reunification with their children and forensic AOD group work. Her current interest lies in working at the intersection of AOD and family violence.

  • Zara Robinson
    Zara Robinson
    Family Harm Practitioner

    Zara Robson is Team Leader for Home & Family’s Whānau Safety team and a Family Harm Practitioner. Zara has been at Home & Family for 4 years and has been instrumental in developing child-focussed responses to family violence for the agency. Zara has also helped lead the incorporation of Safe & Together model as a way of working at Home & Family and has recently completed the Train the Trainer programme. This year, Zara will become training lead within the agency and wider Integrated Safety Response (ISR) collaboration.

  • Jack Bulman
    CEO, Mibbinbah
  • Shelly Napoletano Flynn
    Shelly Napoletano Flynn
    Trainer Certification Program Manager, Safe & Together Institute

    Shelly Napoletano Flynn, MSW began at Safe & Together Institute in July 2018 as the Trainer Certification Program Manager overseeing the Institute’s Certified Trainer Expansion. Shelly’s professional career includes over twenty years of experience in the field of child welfare with a dual focus on direct practice with children and families and systems-level social work practice. With the focus on children birth through age eight and their families, her career included direct service, case management and administration which included intersections with statutory child protection, juvenile and family courts, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and local crisis response teams.

    Shelly’s experience in systems-level practice involved projects such as the evaluation and development of a community’s local capacity to holistically serve its at-risk population of children and families. Additionally, she evaluated and reported on the state-wide supervision practices of Connecticut Certified School Social Workers. As a result of this research, Shelly served on the State of Connecticut Department of Education’s Task Force to develop and implement properly aligned and discipline-specific evaluation standards for school-based social workers in the State of Connecticut. Additionally, her work in systems practice led to the honor of being invited to present on local capacity development of a Birth through Age Eight Children and Family Initiative to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Washington DC.

  • Val Carter
    Val Carter
    Chief Executive, Home and Family (NZ)

    Val Carter is the Chief Executive at Home & Family, a child focused not-for-profit based in Christchurch New Zealand. Val attended the 2020 conference in Melbourne before undertaking virtual training and making the decision to implement the model throughout Home & Family. Val co-delivered a workshop at the 2022 Asia Pacific conference and is now focussing on supporting other agencies to adopt the model.

  • David Mandel
    David Mandel
    CEO, Founder, Owner, Safe & Together Institute

    With over almost 30 years’ experience in the domestic violence field, David’s international training and consulting focuses on improving systems’ responses to domestic violence when children are involved. Through years of work with child welfare systems, David has developed the Safe & Together™ Model to improve case practice and cross-system collaboration in domestic violence cases involving children. He has also identified how a perpetrator pattern-based approach can improve our ability to help families and promote the development of domestic violence-informed child welfare systems.

    David and the Safe & Together Institute’s staff and faculty have consulted to United States’ child welfare systems in a number of states including New York, Louisiana, New Jersey, Iowa, Wisconsin, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, the District of Columbia, Vermont, Oregon and Ohio. In the last five years, their work has expanded outside the United States with research, training and consultation in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and other countries. The Safe & Together Institute works closely with domestic violence advocates, in the United States and abroad, to help them more effectively work with child protection systems and better advocate for child welfare-involved adult and child domestic violence survivors. David has written and published online courses which has launched a new Safe & Together Model Certified Trainer initiative that will increase the Institute’s ability to support sustainable implementation of domestic violence-informed practice in the US and abroad.

    David has written or co-written journal articles on batterer’s perceptions of their children’s exposure to domestic violence, domestic violence case reading tools, and the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare practice. His chapter on “Batterers and the Lives of Their Children” was published in the Praeger Series Violence Against Women in Families and Relationships.

  • Margaret Kertesz
    Margaret Kertesz
    Senior Research Fellow, University of Melbourne

    Dr Margaret Kertesz is a senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, with two decades experience in the areas of domestic and family violence, child protection and out-of-home care. Her specific research interests include the impact on children of domestic violence, approaches that promote recovery post-violence, with a focus on evaluation, applied research and knowledge translation. She works in close collaboration with service providers to promote good practice and the systems that support it. She has worked on four research projects involving the Safe & Together Institute.

  • Adam Joel - Last Drop
    Adam Joel - Last Drop
    Filmmaker, co-founder of Aggressively Compassionate production company

    Adam Joel is a survivor of relationship abuse and an impact-driven filmmaker. He is the Writer and Director of The Last Drop a short sci-fi film about relationship abuse inspired by the memories of real survivors. Adam is leading an international campaign using this revolutionary film to help people identify and react to the lesser known forms of abuse that tend to occur BEFORE a relationship turns violent. To make this project as useful as possible, The Safe & Together Institute designed a Course around the film on their website with a “Professional Ally Guide” to accompany it. Together, Adam and S&TI are providing this project as a tool to help professionals like you lead meaningful conversations about relationship safety all over the world.

  • Cathy Humphreys
    Cathy Humphreys
    Professor of Social Work, University of Melbourne

    Cathy Humphreys is Emeritus Professor of Social Work at University of Melbourne. She specialises in applied research. Seven projects have worked with the Safe & Together Institute using practice-led, action research through facilitated multi-stakeholder workshops and Communities of Practice. This approach reflects a profound interest in knowledge translation to ensure the support of practice through research. Her research focuses on DFV and child abuse. She has a long-term interest in the intersection of DFV with other complexities including mental health and AOD. Cathy Humphreys is a well published author of more than 170 journal articles. She worked at the University of Warwick for 12 years leading a domestic violence and child abuse research centre before returning to Australia in 2006. For 15 years she worked as a social worker.

  • Cherie Toivonen
    Cherie Toivonen
    Managing Director, CLT Byron Consulting

    Cherie Toivonen is an independent researcher working in the violence, abuse, and neglect space. Cherie has over 20 years’ experience working on research and evaluation projects. Whilst employed at the University of Sydney she managed two complex multi-agency ARC funded research projects and was the Senior Researcher for the NSW component of three ANROWS funded multi-state research projects. At ANROWS, she led the project that developed the National Risk Assessment Principles for Domestic and Family Violence and held the role of Acting Director of the Research Program. As Managing Director of CLT Byron Consulting she was contracted by the Ministry of Health (NSW Health) to design and run the Adult Survivor Pilot Project which utilised an action research approach to develop new integrated ways of working with adult survivors of childhood sexual assault. Cherie also has extensive experience in teaching and supervision of students in the social work program, across both the Masters and Undergraduate programs at the University of Sydney. She has a continued commitment to teaching and learning within the social work profession and a strong commitment to social justice, feminist principles, and intersectionality, and holds these central to all aspect of her work.

  • Dr Emma Katz
    Dr Emma Katz
    Associate Professor in Sociology, Durham University

    Dr Emma Katz, Ph.D., is an internationally-renowned expert in domestic abuse and coercive control, whose work has influenced legislation in the UK and overseas. Coercive control is a form of domestic abuse where perpetrators use a pattern of threats, humiliation and intimation to control and dominate their partner and children, depriving them of independence and isolating them from support. Because coercive control does not always involve physical violence, it has often been under-reported and under-recognised. It was recognised as a criminal offence in England and Wales in 2015.

    Emma’s research with mothers and children who have survived coercive control has transformed understandings of domestic abuse. Children’s experiences of coercive control were largely invisible prior to Emma’s work, which found that children were affected by many forms of abuse beyond physical violence against their mother, including imprisonment, deprivation of resources, and isolation from the outside world. Emma’s research findings on children and coercive control have been used to train professionals internationally.

    Her book, Coercive Control in Children’s and Mothers’ Lives (2022, Oxford University Press) is described as a ‘pioneering work’ that ‘will change how we understand and response to children’s experience of domestic abuse’ (Evan Stark, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University).

    Dr Emma Katz gained her Ph.D. from the University of Nottingham, UK and is currently a Senior Lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, UK.

Kimly Sills, a 26-year child welfare veteran in Ontario, Canada, has been a passionate Safe & Together advocate since she discovered it seven years ago. Her journey began when she was tasked with supervising a specialized domestic violence protection team, developing the program, and acting as the community liaison to improve relationships between Child Welfare and Violence Against Women sectors. Since that time, she introduced the Safe & Together™ Model to her agency and has grown the practice within by actively using it with every family impacted by domestic violence that she supervises. Kimly has dedicated her child welfare practice to becoming more domestic violence informed by coaching staff, supervisors, members of the legal department, and community partners to implement the Safe & Together™ principles, tools, and skills into their daily practice to improve outcomes for families and cross-system collaboration.

Kimly is bi-lingual and has worked in child welfare as a front-line worker, team supervisor, and program manager. Kimly’s experience as a supervisor/manager includes intake, clinical assessments, ongoing family services, as well as, working with foster families, children/youth in care, and public relations. She has been trained in the Signs of Safety (SOS), strength-based approach and guides staff to increase the implementation of SOS in their child welfare practice. Kimly understands first-hand the similarities and differences between the two models (SOS and S&T) and how they can work together clinically to reach optimum results in child, survivor, and/or worker safety, as well as increased engagement with fathers in a child welfare system.

Kimly also runs her own private practice as a Clinical Social worker providing individual and couples therapy. She specializes in working with individuals impacted by domestic violence, including survivors, family/friends trying to support them, and perpetrators motivated to make better, non-violent/controlling choices.

Rebecca’s journey with the Safe & Together Institute began in 2024. Rebecca brings a solid educational foundation to her role with a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Investments from West Chester University and a Master of Science Degree from Wilmington University. Prior to her tenure at Safe & Together, Rebecca served as the Director of Finance and IT for an entertainment attraction. While finance serves as the cornerstone of her expertise, Rebecca’s journey has ventured into the domains of Information Technology and Human Resources. She has cultivated a well-rounded skill set that uniquely positions her as a catalyst for progress within the Safe & Together Institute. At the heart of Rebecca’s approach lies a commitment to partnership and ensuring that business growth remains intertwined with organizational mission and goals. Her inclusive mindset is at the core of balanced decision-making.

With over 15 years of business operations, strategy, and partnership experience, Kat has led teams and consulted for global organizations, including Amazon, Procter & Gamble, American Express, and Microsoft. She joined S&TI to accelerate the mission and vision by enabling individuals and teams to find more powerful, efficient ways to deliver results for our expanding global community.

Kat’s business expertise spans sales, finance, engineering, product, marketing, HR, legal, and PR. She is an entrepreneur with previous consulting and career coaching business leadership. Kat received her MBA from the Yale School of Management in Sustainability (inclusive of Social Enterprise) and her BFA in Art from New York University.

Christine leads the Finance Team for Safe & Together since her joining in 2023. She has over 20 years of cumulative experience in the areas of finance and business, and change management. Christine is a certified Executive Coach from the Institute of Leadership at United Kingdom. She brings her experience of working in leadership coaching, management training and human resources to her work practice, along with her passion for a mindfulness-based approach.  Having qualified in Computer Studies, she also has a wide-ranging experience of technology gained during her tenure in the technology arena.



Jackie Wruck

Jackie Wruck has been a Certified Trainer with the Safe & Together Institute in Australia since 2017 and joins the Safe & Together Institute as the Asia Pacific Regional Manager! Jackie lives in Queensland, AU, and has been working within the community sector for over 20 years. This included working within Government and Non-Government agencies that worked with vulnerable individuals and families in Australia. Jackie has worked in the fields of Child Protection and Domestic Violence as a frontline practitioner in both advocating and crisis support of families. She has also worked in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations as a DV Specialist and would consult on cases that involved Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. Jackie has the lived experience, knowledge and understanding of the issue of DFV in the context of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and was the cultural lead for the Walking With Dad’s program, which is grounded in the Safe & Together Model.  Jackie has assisted in bringing both Safe & Together and the Child Protection Child Placement Principles framework together to enhance the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families in Australia to assist in keeping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children out of the Child Protection system.  In addition to training on the Safe & Together Model, Jackie continued to use the Safe & Together Model directly with families as a child protection professional, coaching and consulting on cases with domestic violence. She continues to be committed to the safety and well-being of children and families through practice changes through the Safe & Together Model. Jackie will be representing, assisting and supporting Safe & Together Institute in the development and implementation of the model across Australia and Asia Pacific regions.

Donna Dukes

Donna joined the Safe & Together Institute in December 2022 as a Coordinator for the Trainer Certification Program. She comes to us with a combination of both corporate and non-profit experiences. Previously, Donna held training coordinator positions in the financial sector with The Vanguard Group and Training The Street. In the non-profit sector, she was dedicated to community service, both professionally and personally. As the Training Manager for United Way of Central Carolinas, she managed a leadership development program. Volunteering in her spare time, she became an integral part of domestic violence awareness, advocacy and training. Appointed by the City Council and the Board of County Commissioners, she previously served two years as the Chair of the Domestic Violence Advisory Board in Charlotte, NC.

Donna holds a Masters Degree in Health and Human Performance and a Bachelors Degree in Organizational Communications. Donna has received the “Volunteer of The Year” award from United Family Services, a Commendation Award from the chief of the Charlotte Mecklenburg County Police Department and has had several appearances on local television. Academically, she consistently made the Dean’s List; was inducted into Lambda Pi Eta, The National Communication Association Honor Society; and was recognized by the North Carolina State Senate for her academic achievements. With a sense of humor and a lot of inspiration, Donna loves bringing joy and hope to others.

Nicola Douglas

Nicola Douglas has eighteen years of experience in the field of domestic abuse. Her passion for the issue began when she was an undergraduate, volunteering in a homeless hostel and working with women made homeless as they fled abuse. She went on to work as a front-line practitioner in a range of settings, including refuge, outreach (as an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor – IDVA) and Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA). Nicola’s interest lies in systems change and she moved into strategic roles, successfully implementing programmes to improve domestic abuse outcomes within social care, police and the ambulance service. Nicola spent four years at Standing Together Against Domestic Abuse in the UK, with and alongside partners, to improve the way that systems respond to domestic abuse. This included leading a team of coordinators working in healthcare and child protection settings, as well as developing a health-based accreditation scheme. Most recently, Nicola completed her MA in Criminology and Criminal Justice, achieving a Distinction and award for best dissertation which focused on the impact of the Domestic Abuse Act on strategic partnerships in the UK.
Nicola joins the Safe & Together Institute as the European Training Delivery Specialist, working with the EU Lead.

Kay Stevenson

Coming off of an employment history of managing several small businesses in Connecticut and enjoying the growth and expansion process, Kay is a founding employee of Safe & Together Institute, having started with David in 2006. Now overseeing finance, human resources and technology, Kay balances her commitment to the company’s growth with hobbies of gardening and novel writing.

Mandy Rousselle

Mandy joined the Safe and Together Institute in February 2022 as a bookkeeper. She studied Early Childhood Develop at the University of Maryland European Division in Germany. Prior to working for Safe & Together, Mandy did bookkeeping, customer service coaching, admin support, and managed a transportation charity in Canada for several years.

Janet Penza

Janet joined the Safe & Together Institute in 2022. She has a long history of supporting executives to achieve their goals.

Kim Jurgens

Kim started at Safe & Together Institute in November of 2021. She holds a Diploma in Business (Australia) and Hotel Management (South Africa). She began her working career in South Africa working for a leading hotel chain in Event Management, Food and Beverage. She has lived and worked in South Africa, Australia, Singapore, Oman and the USA and has worked in both the private sector on large-scale events globally – including Hong Kong, Malacca, Zambia, Mozambique, and the USA and then working in a project management capacity for the not-for-profit sector in Australia (Australian Institute of Management). As the Training Delivery Project Administrator, Kim provides logistic support to the UK, USA and AU client leads.  She maintains the training calendar, is a point of contact for clients and faculty alike and is responsible for client correspondence
once training dates have been confirmed. Kim has a strong commitment to her community and has volunteered in suicide prevention in Australia and animal welfare in both South Africa and the USA.

Dorothy Striker

Dorothy Striker has over 25 years of professional experience in the field of child welfare and domestic violence. In a career that has spanned frontline casework to policy and program development, Dorothy has been involved in major family violence and differential response initiatives. Her areas of expertise include individual and family assessment, structured decision making and risk assessment, CAPTA related policy, practice model development and quality assurance case reviews. Dorothy has also participated in various levels of all three of the federal Child and Family Services Reviews in Ohio. Certified Safe & Together™ Model Trainer since 2010, she has provided multi-day training and case consultations in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Casie Burke, MSEd, PC

Casie Burke, MSEd, PC, has been a trainer of the Safe & Together™ Model since 2012. She has experience training and working with child welfare agencies, as well as other community partners who support child welfare agencies (schools, domestic violence advocates, law enforcement, mental health/substance abuse counselors). She has over 10 years of experience working directly in child welfare, holding various positions including intake and assessment, visitation, parent education, and supervisor. Casie has provided consultation services within agencies surrounding the Safe & Together Model to staff, casework staff, and management. She participated in the National Quality Improvement Center on Child Welfare Involved Families Experiencing Domestic Violence Listening Tour, where she could voice the current state of conditions and challenges, and the potential direction for future research, investments and interventions. Casie is committed to providing training and support to professionals working with families and children surrounding the intersection of child welfare and domestic violence.

Beth Ann Morhardt

With over 20 years of experience in the domestic violence field, Beth Ann Morhardt has worked with both child and adult victims/survivors in many roles including Child Advocate, Children’s Community Educator, Adult Advocate, Shelter Services Director and Associate Director. After years of working in direct services Ms. Morhardt transitioned into a consultant role, serving as the Domestic Violence Consultant to Connecticut’s Department of Children & Families. In that role, she was able to build and maintain solid collaborations rooted in mutual respect, which resulted in the growth and development of Domestic Violence-Informed practice and skills to better support victims/survivors of domestic violence and their children. Within this role, working directly with perpetrators of coercive control became a focal point and passion within her work. Since 2016 Beth Ann has been a key member of the Faculty with the Safe & Together Institute, where she traveled throughout the US and internationally, collaborating with child protection workers and other community services professionals to increase their proficiency in Domestic Violence-Informed Case Practice. Currently, she works as the Associate Director at a domestic and family violence agency, overseeing shelter, housing, counseling, education and court advocacy services, while also serving as faculty with Safe & Together Institute. Inspired by the current social climate, Ms. Morhardt has returned to a more independent and multi-purposed career with a broader focus on social & racial justice & personal healing.

Beth Ann Morhardt

With over 20 years of experience in the domestic violence field, Beth Ann Morhardt has worked with both child and adult victims/survivors in many roles including Child Advocate, Children’s Community Educator, Adult Advocate, Shelter Services Director and Associate Director. After years of working in direct services Ms. Morhardt transitioned into a consultant role, serving as the Domestic Violence Consultant to Connecticut’s Department of Children & Families. In that role, she was able to build and maintain solid collaborations rooted in mutual respect, which resulted in the growth and development of Domestic Violence-Informed practice and skills to better support victims/survivors of domestic violence and their children. Within this role, working directly with perpetrators of coercive control became a focal point and passion within her work. Since 2016 Beth Ann has been a key member of the Faculty with the Safe & Together Institute, where she traveled throughout the US and internationally, collaborating with child protection workers and other community services professionals to increase their proficiency in Domestic Violence-Informed Case Practice. Currently, she works as the Associate Director at a domestic and family violence agency, overseeing shelter, housing, counseling, education and court advocacy services, while also serving as faculty with Safe & Together Institute. Inspired by the current social climate, Ms. Morhardt has returned to a more independent and multi-purposed career with a broader focus on social & racial justice & personal healing.

Danielle Martin, MSW

Danielle Martin has more than 20 years of experience working with children and families within child welfare, early childhood development and domestic violence settings. Her work with at-risk children and families has involved direct service provision, management and administration. She initiated her career in the field of domestic violence creating new programming, advocating for additional services and creating improved collaboration at a local level. She served on the Governor’s Task Force in Michigan for the prevention of child sexual abuse as a departmental representative. She has trained the Safe & Together™ Model in Michigan and beyond since 2015. Danielle has a Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on child welfare. Danielle’s focus has been on the provision of trauma-informed care for families and children experiencing child welfare intervention. She has worked closely with community partners to integrate trauma information and practices into schools, mental health, child welfare and residential communities. Danielle has received the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services “best practice award” for her leadership in the development of local child trauma assessment programming.

Sarah L. Heuser

Sarah Heuser, MS, has nearly 25 years of experience working in the domestic and sexual violence field. Her roots are in direct service work with survivors in grassroots service agencies focused on crisis intervention, counseling-advocacy, outreach, support and program development. She also has substantial experience in training, prevention and awareness efforts and has worked with a broad spectrum of groups ranging from high school and college students to athletes, DV advocates, child welfare, law enforcement and the judiciary. Sarah has also served on multiple task forces and workgroups in Michigan to address policy issues. A substantial focus of Sarah’s work has been on the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare. Sarah was a strong early advocate for integrating the Safe & Together™ Model to Michigan and became a certified trainer for the Safe & Together Institute in 2015. Sarah has trained on the Model across the US and in Scotland.

Lisa Fleischer, MSW, LSW

Lisa began her career in child welfare in 2003. She has served in the role of caseworker and supervisor, working long-term with families as well as supervising an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)/Alternative Response (AR) Unit. Lisa has also been training on the Safe & Together™ Model since 2010.

Lisa previously worked as a Social Worker in an emergency room at a local hospital and a Community Instructor at the Ohio State University College of Social Work. She has a Master of Social Work and is a licensed Social Worker.

Lórien Castelle

Lórien Castelle has been an activist and advocate for social justice focusing on ending gender-based violence for over two decades. She has had the honor of working with several national organizations across the United States including work as a trainer for the National Center on Domestic Violence, a prevention consultant to the National Resource Center on Domestics Violence, a trainer and consultant for Major League Baseball (MLB) and currently for the Safe & Together Institute.

While working as the Director of Prevention for the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, she was responsible for promoting best practices for preventing and responding to domestic violence and coordinating diverse stakeholders to design and implement community, regional and state-level initiatives. She also worked with the Pennsylvanian Coalition Against Domestic Violence to launch a statewide prevention initiative in Pennsylvania.

Ms. Castelle brings a wealth of experience with coaching, support and training to both domestic violence programs and allies. She has specialized experience with community organizing, organizational development and prevention strategies. In addition, Ms. Castelle has served on numerous national, statewide and regional committees and is a much sought-after trainer, meeting facilitator and keynote speaker.

Rhonda Dagg BSc, BSW

Rhonda Dagg has over 20 years of experience working in the child welfare field in a variety of roles including front line worker, supervisor and business analyst. In her current role as a CFS Program and Leading Practice Specialist, Rhonda is a passionate advocate for families affected by domestic violence and a strong supporter of staff who work with these families. She is also the media consultant for federally funded systems change project created to reduce gender-based violence and improve outcomes for children and families.

Rhonda has utilized the Safe & Together™ Model in her work since 2014, writing policies, coaching and mentoring staff and trains internationally for the S&T Institute.  In her personal time, she also creates educational material and videos for the community on gender-based violence and prevention.

Kristi Burre, MA

Kristi Burre began her professional career over 22 years ago in local and state government, community partnerships, and system transformation. Most recently, she served as the Director of Children’s Initiatives for Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, focusing on child well-being and driving improvements with communication and coordination across all state agencies providing services to children and families. In this role, she prioritized system enhancements and advancing policy with early childhood education, early intervention and prevention services, maternal and infant health, child physical and mental health, and children services. Kristi has vast experience collaborating with local, state, federal, and private sector partners to align efforts and investments to have the largest possible impact on improving outcomes for children, families, and communities.

Kristi has worked extensively in the child protection and foster care system in the capacities of caseworker, supervisor, manager, and director. In addition to her public service work, she has held various roles teaching, training, and coaching for the last 22 years, to include roles as a social and behavioral sciences adjunct instructor at Columbus State Community College, and a trainer and executive coach with the Ohio Child Welfare Training Program.

Kristi has been a Safe & Together Institute Senior Faculty and certified trainer since 2011 and is committed to guiding child and family serving agencies to become more domestic violence informed. She has trained professionals in North America, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom from various disciplines, to include child protection, domestic violence advocacy, law enforcement, education, behavioral health, juvenile justice, health care, and the legal community. She also coaches and mentors professionals from across the world involved with the trainer certification program and observes training sessions for evaluation, feedback, and approval for certification.

Additional leadership roles have included chairing the Ohio Governor’s Children Services Transformation Advisory Council and Eliminating Racial Disparities in Infant Mortality Task Force. Kristi has also held leadership positions and appointments for many other state and local entities committed to protecting children and strengthening families, including the Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Board, Ohio Children’s Trust Fund Regional Prevention Council, Ohio Intimate Partner Violence Collaborative, and Ohio Early Childhood Advisory Council. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology, criminology and psychology from Capital University and a master’s degree in sociology from Ohio University.

Ashley Bowers, MSW, LSW

Ashley Bowers, MSW/LSW, has been a Trainer with the Safe & Together Institute since 2012. She facilitates training and consultation services around the Safe & Together™ Model for child welfare professionals. Ashley is a licensed social worker who has worked throughout the child welfare field for over eleven years. She has worked as a Child Welfare Intake Supervisor in both intake and ongoing departments. In addition to training on the Safe & Together Model, Ashley has utilized the Safe & Together Model directly with families as a child welfare professional, coaching and consulting on cases with domestic violence. She continues to be committed to the safety and wellbeing of children and families through practice changes through the Safe & Together Model.

Kari Akins

Kari Akins is the Assistant Deputy Director of the Office of Families and Children at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services responsible for state level administration and oversight of child and adult protective services.  Prior to this position, Kari was appointed to the Office of Children Services Transformation leading children services and foster care efforts in Ohio. With 20 years’ experience in the child welfare system, Kari has served in multiple capacities including screening, intake and assessment for direct service, and community response and outreach at an administrative level. In addition, Kari’s work has emphasized community collaboration and education regarding child maltreatment and trauma, the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare practice, and coaching/supervision in child welfare. In 2010, Kari began her work with the Safe & Together™ Model as part of a pilot county in a statewide rollout of the Model, allowing her to be at the forefront of this practice in her state. Kari has served as an advocate on numerous local and state-level workgroups to address best practice policy around Intimate Partner Violence while providing education and training at the state and national level as Faculty for the Safe & Together Institute.

Alison Simari

Alison joined the Safe & Together Institute in August 2021 as an Administrative Assistant for the Trainer Certification Program. Prior to this, she provided almost a decade of support to the Certified Trainer community at the Center for Nonviolent Communication in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Alison thrives in an environment where she can support the work of those positively impacting the world for the greater good. She is thrilled to be part of Safe & Together’s mission to be an agent of systemic change in the domestic violence field.

Minh-Chau Truong

Minh-Chau has been with the Safe & Together Institute since June of 2021 as the Virtual Academy Customer Experience Specialist. Her time with eLearning in the non-profit sector, with patients experiencing chronic pain and illness, and 15 years of customer service, back her lifelong goal of helping individuals pursue personal sustainability. Her goal at the Institute is to make the online learning process as easy as possible so that learners can focus on what matters most: maintaining themselves and peace at home.

Colleen Jameson

Colleen has 20 years of experience working at the intersection of mental health, domestic violence, and education. She has worked as an educator and advocate in DV shelters, teen safe houses, residential programs for at-risk youth, and programs for adults with disabilities. For the past 10 years, Colleen has worked in rural Mississippi with children and families impacted by mental health. She serves on the inaugural Board of the domestic violence shelter in Oxford, Mississippi. In 2010, she authored a curriculum that was awarded an Iowa Women’s Foundation grant for implementation state-wide. Colleen is passionate about making tools that equip individuals to be agents of positive change in the systems where they work and live.

Lindberg Chambliss

Lindberg joined Safe & Together Institute in June 2021 as Events Logistics Administrator. His  professional career includes over fifteen years of experience in live music event coordination and marketing, artist management, and tour logistics. As an activist with a focus on equity for youth and equity through education, he volunteers with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and participates in projects that advocate for systemic and equitable policy change in K-12 education. Lindberg is passionate about social justice, personal growth, love, art, and adventure.

Jacob Linzenbold

Jacob Linzenbold has been with the Safe & Together Institute Staff since March, 2021 and currently holds the title of Resource Development, Events & Evaluation Administrator. He works across the organization with each department to ensure that each team is on the same page and best serving survivors and advocates. Jacob graduated from Penn State University and has been involved with several start up companies, giving him the skill set necessary to help with the different aspects of the organization. Jacob excels in providing mentorship and advice to prospective business founders and enjoys teaching students. In his spare time, he enjoys going on adventures and exploring nature with his fiancé and their dog.

Dana Schmersal, MSW – Resource Development Specialist

Dana Schmersal has been involved in child and family policy and programs for nine years, most recently managing Safe & Together trainings for child welfare staff across the state of Ohio. She has worked directly with families impacted by the juvenile justice system, provided training for child support staff working with families impacted by domestic violence, advocated for women’s reproductive rights, and served as communications director for a state and federal child advocacy organization and taught as an adjunct professor for the Interdisciplinary Child Welfare Institute at Capital University Law School. Currently, she is a member of the Institute’s Resource Development Team and coordinates the certified trainer mentoring program. She has completed both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in social work as well as a B.A. in criminal justice and has made advocacy for vulnerable populations and improvements in community and system responses the focus of her macro practice.

Peju Thompson

Peju Thompson has been with Safe & Together Institute since July 2020 providing international accounting support for Safe & Together Institute’s business overseas.  Peju holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Rutgers University and a Master of Science Degree in Accounting from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  Prior to working for Safe & Together, Peju was a staff accountant for both a mid-size CPA firm and in city-government. In addition to her diverse professional experience, she enjoys working with people and endeavors to always positively impact others.

Leah K. Vejzović, LMSW

Leah has been working as a social worker in the fields of child welfare and domestic violence victim advocacy since 2007. She has experience as a child welfare services provider, a domestic and sexual assault victim advocate, a therapist specializing in work with adult and child survivors and perpetrators, a men’s behavior change program facilitator and the coordinator of domestic violence training and response for the Department of Human Services in Iowa. Leah first became connected to the Safe & Together Institute during her tenure as state coordinator when she helped facilitate the implementation of the Safe & Together Model across the state. She came on board in 2020 as a Resource Development Specialist, creating DV-informed curriculum, eLearning and practice tools. She also worked to coordinate programming for our Events. Leah is passionate about equipping professionals with the tools they need to do effective work with families and engage in larger agency and systems change.

Ingryd Flores

Ingryd commenced her tenure at the Safe & Together Institute in June 2019. With a background in Social Behavioral Science, she furthered her education by obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in History from the University of California, Irvine. Proficient in Spanish, she possesses fluent speaking, writing, and reading skills in the language.

Her professional journey commenced at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), where she contributed to a national leadership program aimed at supporting and training Latino elected and appointed officials on pertinent issues. Here, she developed a passion for empowering the Latino community towards naturalization and active civic engagement. Concurrently pursuing her education, she earned a Paralegal diploma and subsequently served in roles focused on Criminal and Immigration Law, conducting comprehensive research on various legal matters.

Ingryd’s conviction in the transformative power of education is evident in her role as a Per Diem Substitute Teacher, where she fosters a positive learning atmosphere and nurtures students’ desire for knowledge.

Currently serving as the TCP and Technology Administrator, Ingryd delivers top-tier technological support, demonstrating adeptness in managing event registrations and facilitating pre- and post-event evaluations with finesse. She prioritizes effective communication with learners and participants, ensuring their comfort and engagement throughout online courses and event proceedings.

Shelly Napoletano Flynn, MSW

Shelly Napoletano Flynn, MSW began at Safe & Together Institute in July 2018 as the Trainer Certification Program Manager overseeing the Institute’s Certified Trainer Expansion. Shelly’s professional career includes over twenty years of experience in the field of child welfare with a dual focus on direct practice with children and families and systems-level social work practice. With the focus on children birth through age eight and their families, her career included direct service, case management and administration which included intersections with statutory child protection, juvenile and family courts, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and local crisis response teams.

Shelly’s experience in systems-level practice involved projects such as the evaluation and development of a community’s local capacity to holistically serve its at-risk population of children and families. Additionally, she evaluated and reported on the state-wide supervision practices of Connecticut Certified School Social Workers. As a result of this research, Shelly served on the State of Connecticut Department of Education’s Task Force to develop and implement properly aligned and discipline-specific evaluation standards for school-based social workers in the State of Connecticut. Additionally, her work in systems practice led to the honor of being invited to present on local capacity development of a Birth through Age Eight Children and Family Initiative to the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services in Washington DC.

Anna Mitchell, Safe & Together United Kingdom Lead

Anna Mitchell’s interest in women’s issues began when she studied a degree in Geography with Gender Studies at Edinburgh University in 1996. After working in various women’s organisations she went on to gain her Social Work Masters and began to think about the importance of engaging with men who abuse in order to increase the safety of women and children. She worked as a Women’s Service Worker with the Caledonian System; an integrated approach to addressing domestic abuse combining a court-ordered programme for men, aimed at changing their behaviour, with support services for women and children. Anna co-authored the Caledonian System Women’s Service Manual and was seconded to the Equality Unit in the Scottish Government as a Professional Advisor to support the roll-out of this innovative system across Scotland. Since 2012, she has been employed as Domestic Abuse Lead Officer for Edinburgh’s Public Protection Partnership with the remit to help coordinate domestic abuse services across the council, police, health and the voluntary sector. Anna has completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Services Leadership and led a number of initiatives in Edinburgh to improve systemic responses, not only to adult and child victims but to domestic abuse perpetrators; including the development of auditing tools, improvement plans, service pathways, policies and training. In her current role, she is representing the Safe & Together Institute in the UK and is supporting the development and implementation of the Model across Great Britain.

Ruth Reymundo Mandel, Communications and E-Learning Manager

Ruth has been in training and implementation since 1995. Her career began as a middle school teacher in post-revolutionary Nicaragua. As a teacher in a developing, post-war country she became dedicated to issues surrounding social justice and violence. She later transitioned to higher education and worked at the Bryman School and at The Art Institute of Phoenix as an Assistant Director of Admissions. Her responsibilities included vetting prospective students and identifying barriers to enrollment and to matriculation.

After taking a break to raise her three children, she began working as a trainer and technical support for a national professional line nutritional company and an international professional line herbal company which trained medical professionals in alternative therapies.

In her role, she trained doctors and medical professionals in clinical application and was an ongoing support for successful implementation through patient outcomes. She developed systems for practice management, patient support, managed, created and promoted cyclical education events for clinical success. She developed training strategies to respond to a variety of real-time field challenges.

Ruth also worked as a professional business coach specializing in systems and practice management. Her dedication to understanding root challenges, institutional, structural and personal impediments that keep people from applying their skills and knowledge in a targeted and successful way helped many of her clients increase their business success.

Aside from her professional accomplishments, Ruth is a published poet, writer and public speaker. Ruth has worked with clients using various energy medicine and body-centric coaching techniques for trauma recovery. Drawing on her childhood experiences growing up in an abusive, religious cult and as a survivor, she is a fierce advocate for those who have experienced abuse. She is dedicated to helping survivors and allies understand behavioral coping mechanisms arising out of trauma and mitigating societal and personal judgments surrounding common human responses to violence and harm. This transformative approach helps those who have experienced violence and their allies better understand how to support, nurture and nourish survivors in a common-sense manner and without blame.

Brittany DiBella, MSW, DVS

Brittany DiBella has been with the Safe & Together Institute since 2015. Brittany has extensive experience developing curricula, e-learning content, and resources, as well as with providing consultation and training facilitation on the Safe & Together™ Model for a wide range of family-serving professionals. Brittany has over 10 years of experience in the field of domestic violence work including research and evaluation of New Jersey’s co-located advocate program; educating advocates, child welfare professionals and social work students on issues related to violence against women and children; direct-practice experience with survivors of trauma and interpersonal violence and work with adolescents impacted by violence. Brittany also served on New Jersey’s Child Fatality Review Board in 2017, is certified in Violence Against Women & Children from Rutgers University School of Social Work and is certified in New Jersey as a Domestic Violence Specialist.

Heidi Rankin, MPA – Associate Director

Heidi has over 30 years of experience in the sexual and domestic violence fields and social justice. She has worked in crisis counseling, program and policy development and advocacy in both the United States and Canada. Heidi received a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in domestic violence from the University of Colorado at Denver, the only program of its kind in the country. In her current role as Associate Director and North American Lead, she helps agencies navigate plans for systems change and supports efforts to build capacity through training and collaboration.  Heidi also oversees the Institute training staff, faculty and mentors, manages training for Certified Trainers and presents nationally and internationally.

David Mandel, MA, LPC – Executive Director

With over 35 years of experience in the domestic violence and child welfare fields, David is the creator of the Safe & Together Model, a transformational approach to changing how systems and practitioners respond to domestic violence when children are involved. He has identified how a perpetrator pattern-based approach can improve the ability to partner with survivors, intervene with perpetrators as parents, and improve outcomes for children.

David is the founder of the Safe & Together Institute, which works with governments and NGOs across the globe, including Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Through their live training, organizational consulting, e-learning, and trainer certification, the Safe & Together Institute provides organizations and systems with a wide range of practice change tools. Currently, the Institute supports almost 300 Certified Trainers and 80 Partner Agencies worldwide. The Model has proven its relevance to multiple sectors, including family court, substance use, law enforcement, mental health, multi-agency efforts, and other disciplines.

David has written or co-written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and white papers, including his most recent one on the alignment of the Safe & Together Model with the children’s best interest framework. The Institute’s work is regularly the subject of research studies, including a current project examining the relevance of the Model in a First Nation context in Australia. He has just published his first book, “Stop Blaming Mothers and Ignoring Fathers: How to Transform the Way We Keep Children Safe from Domestic Violence,” which is available online through Amazon.com.

journal articles on batterer’s perceptions of their children’s exposure to domestic violence, domestic violence case reading tools, and the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare practice. His chapter on “Batterers and the Lives of Their Children” was published in the Praeger Series Violence Against Women in Families and Relationships.