About the licensing program


In recent years there has been an explosion of interest in the Signs of Safety around the world. There are agencies in dozens of countries using the approach that at some level and many undertaking whole system implementations.

Elia, led by Andrew Turnell (co-creator of the approach with Steve Edwards), is the home of the Signs of Safety and holds the Signs of Safety trademark. Elia is committed to:

  • Ensuring the Signs of Safety model and brand are maintained to a high standard
  • Creating a learning community of Signs of Safety trainers and consultants who can learn from each other and strongly lead the continuing development of the approach
  • Supporting Signs of Safety trainers and consultants with the latest developments, research and materials
  • Ensuring that training and consultation are delivered at the highest standards by people with extensive knowledge and experience of the approach.

The core purpose of the licensing programme is to support an international community of accredited trainers and consultants. These licensed professionals can fulfil the potential of the Signs of Safety to revolutionise child protection practice. A huge part of this is leading the governments and large organisations that define the child protection endeavour through whole-system Signs of Safety implementations.


The Signs of Safety licensing programme accredits two different roles: Signs of Safety Trainer and Signs of Safety Consultant.

  • A Signs of Safety Trainer is licensed to train, supervise and support the use of the Signs of Safety approach in child protection casework.
  • A Signs of Safety Consultant is licensed to work with agency leadership, at all levels, and assist them to integrate leadership, learning (including training, supervision, ongoing development), meaningful measures and organisational alignment (including policy, practice guidance, information recording) so that the Signs of Safety makes a difference for the agency and the families and children it serves. While most people who are licensed consultants will also be licensed as trainers, it is possible for a professional with suitable Signs of Safety experience to be licensed solely as a consultant.


It is important that all prospective applicants for Signs of Safety Trainer and Consultant licensing know that while Elia currently controls the Signs of Safety intellectual property, licensing and trademarks, this responsibility will be handed over to a Signs of Safety International Board of Management by 2020. The Board of Management will be elected and answerable to the community of licensed Signs of Safety trainers and consultants. The planning for this transition has begun and will ensure the longevity and ongoing development of the Signs of Safety approach and community and ensure the Signs of Safety approach has a secure future beyond the career and leadership of Andrew Turnell.


  • Any professional charging fees for Signs of Safety training or consulting services.
  • Training organisations that are charging for Signs of Safety training and consulting services. (These organisations must license each of their individual Signs of Safety trainers or consultants.)
  • Universities teaching courses focused on the Signs of Safety that are designed to equip students to use the approach in practice or equip them to teach others. Universities charging for training and consulting services to third party organisations will need to license each of the individual Signs of Safety teaching staff.


  • Professionals who are teaching about the Signs of Safety but are not charging for their time.
  • Universities that teach Signs of Safety material as one method among many in undergraduate or postgraduate courses and that do not promote or seek to prepare students to train or teach others in the approach.


The Signs of Safety approach is an open platform for practitioners and agencies. Therefore, organisations that want their staff to use the approach need to decide whether they want to go it alone or develop their expertise from accredited trainers who are part of the international Signs of Safety leadership community. Organisations and practitioners are welcome to utilise the approach based on publicly available materials, but do so at their own risk. Any such practice cannot receive endorsement from Elia, nor from Andrew Turnell, nor from the Signs of Safety community of licensed trainers and consultants. Organisations that want to understand and implement the approach at its best should utilise licensed trainers and/or consultants. A child protection organisation, either statutory or non-government, can apply for internal training staff to be licensed to teach the Signs of Safety, which will ensure the highest standards in training and practice.


While growing and supporting a strong community of endorsed, experienced trainers and consultants, Elia will restrain unaccredited, unendorsed trainers or consultants who are commercially exploiting the Signs of Safety approach, whether they operate independently, within training organisations or in a university/college environment. Where necessary, Elia will use legal mechanisms to defend the use of the Signs of Safety trademark and intellectual property, thereby maintaining strong quality standards and increasing the value and marketability of the Signs of Safety license.

Elia does not grant exclusive rights over geographical regions when licensing trainers or consultants. Provided the licensing requirements are met by applicants, multiple trainer and consultant licenses may be granted for any given district, city, state or country. The goal of the licensing program is to uphold the quality of the model rather than create exclusivity within regions.


There are three different kinds of licensing fees.

License Application Fee

An initial application fee of $1,000 AUD (Australian dollars) plus GST (if applicable) is required for either trainers or consultants. If applying to be both a trainer and a consultant, the application fee is $2,000 AUD plus GST (if applicable). The application fee covers administration duties and the time required by Regional Directors to review and provide feedback on applications.

Royalty Fees

15% of all fees charged by the trainer and/or consultant for their services is paid to Elia for the commercial use of the Signs of Safety trademark, intellectual property, products and services.

This fee helps to enable Elia to:

  • create Signs of Safety resources, documentation and training materials;
  • manage the licensing program; and
  • provide significant, continued support to all trainers and consultants.

The materials and support included in these fees are outlined in What Elia and the licensing arrangements will provide to licensed trainers and consultants.

Accounts for royalty fees are settled quarterly, with each three months’ revenue figures to be submitted 30 days after the quarter ends. For example, revenue figures for the first quarter (January – March) are due on 30 April of that year. Elia then issues an invoice for the reported amount, payment of which is due within 30 days.

Minimum Fee Requirements for all Licensees:

In each calendar year, each licensed trainer or consultant must contribute a minimum $1500 AUD to Elia to retain their license. If the trainer or consultant doesn’t generate the $1500 through their training and consulting earnings the trainer or consultant is still responsible to contribute that minimum amount.


Being part of the ongoing learning journey of Signs of Safety

The Signs of Safety is a mature approach, yet it continues to evolve. The approach develops and is refined from the expanding knowledge of what works for practitioners, agencies and service recipients. This means that those who lead the approach need to continue growing in their professional journey with the Signs of Safety. Elia will require and support trainers and consultants to continually deepen their understanding and experience with the Signs of Safety, thereby growing their capacity to lead others in the approach. To maintain their Signs of Safety accreditation, licensed trainers and consultants need to demonstrate continued learning and make an ongoing contribution to the development of the model. Trainer and consultant licenses are granted for a one-year term and re-assessed on a yearly basis.

As part of this ongoing learning journey, Signs of Safety trainers and consultants need to:

  • demonstrate an ongoing commitment to continuous learning with practitioners, organisations and the broader Signs of Safety community in all aspects of the approach;
  • attend one Signs of Safety Trainers and Consultants Gathering run by Elia at least once every two years (self-funded);
  • participate in individual and small group consulting sessions with Andrew Turnell or other approved Elia staff (face-to-face or by video);
  • attend at least one international Signs of Safety Gathering every two years and, wherever possible, support presentations by agencies and practitioners they work with; and
  • contribute one substantial Signs of Safety Knowledge Bank resource each year.

Contribution to shared knowledge

The unique and most powerful attribute of the Signs of Safety is that it is a practitioner’s model. The Signs of Safety is grounded in, and continues to evolve from, actual examples of what works for practitioners and service recipients and building understanding of the best organisational structures that support this work in child protection agencies. The approach generates interest and excitement because practitioners and agencies are given direct guidance, tools, methods and skills about what to do in their direct work with families, while managers and directors are guided in how to lead their agencies towards more constructive practice. A very significant amount of Andrew Turnell’s work over the past 20 years has involved capturing, documenting and sharing examples of Signs of Safety informed practice from workers around the world. The Signs of Safety Gatherings have also been a key forum for advancing the collective knowledge of the approach in action. This is the appreciative inquiry ‘engine room’ of the Signs of Safety approach focusing always on what works, evolving the approach, and building vision and energy from that foundation.

Endorsed Signs of Safety trainers and consultants are the primary international leaders of the approach. They are expected to demonstrate their commitment to the action learning foundations of the Signs of Safety, by annually preparing and documenting practice examples, training materials or implementation initiatives from the practitioners and agencies they work with. These examples will continue to build the shared Signs of Safety Knowledge Bank in de-identified format for all endorsed trainers and consultants.


While the licensing and accreditation may seem to be an impost on trainers’ and consultants’ income and business, the value of the licensing programme far outweighs those costs. The Signs of Safety accreditation has become established as the international benchmark that child protection agencies and professionals look for when commissioning training and consultancy. After becoming accredited and joining the international Signs of Safety leadership community, Elia will promote the trainer or consultant, their business and products through www.signsofsafety.net and will draw on and promote these individuals around the world. Signs of Safety accreditation increases the status, income, reach and influence of the accredited trainer and consultant within the Signs of Safety and broader child protection community.

Elia regularly negotiates and establishes whole agency implementation contracts with large regional and country wide child protection systems. These contracts provide considerable employment for licensed trainers and consultants. This contracting work is undertaken through Elia.


  • Andrew Turnell and Elia will formally endorse and promote licensed trainers and consultants.
  • Licensed trainers and consultants will be endorsed and promoted on SignsofSafety.net through Signs of Safety Facebook page and other digital platforms.
  • Licensed trainers and consultants will have the exclusive right to promote themselves and their certification using the official Signs of Safety branding, including the Signs of Safety logo.


SignsofSafety.net run by Elia, is the leading site for information about Signs of Safety. The site attracts approximately 250 unique visitors and over 1,000 page views per day. Licensed trainers each have a profile page as well as the opportunity to promote their activities and training events on the site at no additional cost.

If licensed trainers have products to sell, they may sell these through the Signs of Safety online store, pending product approval from Elia. Products will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Information about the fees and sales structure of the SignsofSafety.net store is available on request. Please contact admin@elia.ngo


The most significant benefit for licensed Signs of Safety trainers and consultants is that they become part of a unique international community of professionals committed to transforming child protection practice and organisation. Trainers and consultants stay connected through participating in Gatherings, online supervision, web based forums, leading trainings together, and are constantly supporting and challenging each other, exchanging and developing ideas and are able to draw on support and advice from expert advisors.


Licensed trainers/consultants will have an ongoing relationship with Elia and receive support in their Signs of Safety consultation and training as well as in marketing, promoting and building their business. Andrew and the team at Elia will do everything possible to support licensed trainers and consultants.

The licensed trainer/consultant community are also constantly working together on different projects, including training, research, developing resources, lobbying government, organizing events and other undertakings. This builds the momentum and energy of the approach and the whole community.

Signs of Safety Regional Directors in North America, Japan, the United Kingdom, Continental Europe and New Zealand take responsibility for bringing the trainers and consultants in their region together to provide ongoing support and build the profile of the approach in their region.

Signs of Safety Trainers and Consultant Development Days and Gatherings

Elia holds regular Signs of Safety Trainers and Consultants Development Days and Gatherings to support and grow consultants and trainers in their work.

Professional Development and Supervision

Ongoing professional development and supervision for trainers and consultants is provided in the following ways:

  • Group supervision. There are four supervision groups which meet via video-conference on a 4–6 week schedule. These groups are facilitated by Andrew Turnell, Elia staff or one of the Signs of Safety Regional Directors.
  • Individual support from Andrew Turnell, Terry Murphy or one of the Signs of Safety Regional Directors.
  • Opportunities to participate by video conference in case consultations over the life of the case, lead by Andrew Turnell, or Susie Essex.
  • Support, advice and consultation is also available from expert advisors such as:
    • Susie Essex
    • Professor Eileen Munro
    • Terry Murphy
    • Steve Edwards
    • Professor Peter Pecora
    • Kevin Cambell
    • Associate Professor Frank Thomas

Elia uses GoToMeeting as its video conference platform. All Signs of Safety consultants and trainers will use this platform to participate in individual and group supervision with Elia via video conference.

Learning and Training Materials

Licensed trainers will have access to the following supports and opportunities, and the Signs of Safety Knowledge Bank of resources, including:

  • Elia’s catalogue of training DVDs
  • The Signs of Safety Briefing Paper with permission to distribute to trainees and clients
  • Assorted videos, some suitable for use in training, others for personal learning
  • Appreciative Inquiries with practitioners and service recipients wherever permissions are available. Signs of Safety Mapping, Safety Planning, Case Consultation
  • All available past Signs of Safety Gatherings Presentations
  • Participation via video link in live Signs of Safety consultations in many places around the globe
  • Materials reflecting the latest developments in the Signs of Safety from around the world
  • Training exercises, training materials and PowerPoint presentations for all aspects of Signs of Safety, including Mapping, Safety Planning, Words and Pictures, Three Houses and other work with children, implementation, research and outcome data
  • Participation by video link in practice and implementation consultations led by Elia’s trainer/consultants.
  • Assistance from Elia for Trainers/Consultants to design training exercises, training packages, organisational implementation strategies and plans tailored to their needs and context.
  • Case Examples:
    • display copies of Words & Pictures, Safety Plans, Signs of Safety Mappings, children’s tools examples
    • full written case examples
    • PowerPoint slides of Words & Pictures, Safety Plans, Signs of Safety Mappings, children’s tools examples
  • Signs of Safety branded materials:
    • logo
    • letterhead template
    • flyer template
    • name badge with Signs of Safety logo
  • 20% discount for licensed trainers/consultants to attend any event run by Elia, including residencies and gatherings.


Elia welcomes applications from experienced child protection professionals who have a comprehensive understanding and extensive experience with the Signs of Safety and who want to develop their skills to become a Signs of Safety trainer. Neither Elia nor the international Signs of Safety community offers a stand-alone train-the-trainer process that is typical of many licensed helping or therapy approaches.

It is expected that individuals wanting to apply to be licensed will usually have:

  • A minimum of 6 years’ experience in child protection work
  • 3 years’ direct experience of using the Signs of Safety approach within a child protection/child welfare agency.

Applicants need to have a comprehensive understanding of and high level skills in:

  • The Signs of Safety philosophy
  • Practice principals
  • Questioning skills
  • Signs of Safety assessment, children’s tools, safety planning and case trajectory development (applying the approach across the life of case)
  • Signs of Safety Group supervision
  • Appreciative inquiry and its central place in the Signs of Safety approach

In building their experience with the Signs of Safety, professionals wanting to be licensed would usually have attended and completed:

  • Basic two or three-day training in Signs of Safety Assessment and the Three Houses children’s tool (and variations)
  • Training in Safety Planning and have a strong foundation in the questioning skills and Appreciative Inquiry
  • Several five-day Signs of Safety advanced trainings (often referred to as a Signs of Safety Residency)
  • At least one international Signs of Safety Gathering

From this foundation of training and practice experience, professionals interested in becoming licensed usually get involved in supervising, teaching and leading the practice within their agency and thereby develop their capacity to teach the approach.


We are looking for professionals who:

  • Are experienced in the Signs of Safety; who want to develop their expertise and work as part of the international community of Signs of Safety trainers and consultantsWant to grow themselves and the Signs of Safety approach and are committed to sharing their experience of this journey. We are looking for professionals who want to bring the approach to practitioners and particularly to organisations

Want to do the hard but exciting work of building a revolution in the way child protection is thought about and practiced, so there is a better chance of parents and children being placed at the centre of the work.

Signs of Safety License Application Process

If you are interested in making an application to become a Signs of Safety Trainer or Consultant, please contact your local Regional Director, then complete either a Trainer Application Form, or a Consultant Application Form. We will be in touch with you following this, to start your application.