Speak Up and be Safe from Abuse

Toolkit and training

Have you supported someone with complex communication needs?

You can download resources from the Speak Up and Be Safe website

Have you supported someone who was trying to tell you something important but didn’t quite have the right words to say?

Do you ever wish that you had the tools and resources that can support a person to tell their story?

There has been a lot of talk recently about the abuse of people with a disability, particularly people with communication difficulties. Unfortunately, many Augmented and Alternative Communication (AAC) users have no access to the words and pictures needed to talk about their own experiences.

Funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria, Scope has worked on a safeguarding project. Its focus is a resources toolkit that enables people with communication difficulties to identify and report abuse, and provides training for the people who support them on how to use the toolkit.

The toolkit consists of a set of communication boards, a communication book, record sheets, posters and factsheets.

Importantly, most of these resources are free to download from the Speak Up and Be Safe website.

Find out more about the resources below.

You can download:

1. Communication boards

These boards are good as conversation starters. There are 4 sets of boards:

safeguards board

Set 1. General vocabulary which includes common actions, topics, both male and female body page, qwerty and alphabet boards.

Set 2. ‘Action’ boards –common actions of neglect or abuse.

Set 3. ‘Things’ boards –common items or things we use every day.

Set 4. Places boards –common places in the community and where people may need to raise a complaint or incident of abuse.

You can use the boards and book with direct or indirect access. Direct access is where the person has the motor ability to use their finger, fist or whole hand to choose a message to communicate on a communication board. Indirect access is where intermediate steps are required to assist the individual to get their message across. For example, eye gaze or partner assisted scanning.

2. Speak Up and be Safe from Abuse poster


The poster provides prompts to remember some fundamental aspects in supporting someone with communication difficulties to be safe from abuse, including:

  • supporting the development and maintenance of social networks
  • use of communication aids and resources
  • observing and responding to warning signs
  • the importance of educating people about human rights for people with communication difficulties.

It is best to place the poster in a position where it is visible to staff and people with a disability.

3. Key Word Sign poster

The poster consists of 20 line drawings and instructions on how to sign in Key Word Sign.

The vocabulary was taken from the research, consultations and development of other resources and focuses on identifying and reporting abuse.


4. Record sheet

Use this record sheet to record information about your conversation. Remember to ask the person for permission to use it. Explain that using it will help you remember the person’s story, also explain that if a report is made to the police or an investigation occurs, the record sheet may need to be provided to police or investigators.


5. Factsheets

You can get more information about reporting, seeking help and Australian and international resources.