A podcast for brave chats about our kids, disability and sexual safety.

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About the Podcast

If you’re a parent or caregiver of Deaf, disabled or neurodivergent children, this podcast is for you.

What we’re going to be talking about on The Courage Club are not easy topics, but that’s exactly why we want to talk.

The problem is that in Aotearoa, our Deaf, disabled and neurodivergent tamariki are at increased risk of sexual harm. At the same time, because that fact hurts, it’s really hard to speak about it. So we wanted to create a space where we could begin the conversation. We wanted to make something where we, as parents, can courageously talk about the hard stuff: keeping our Deaf, disabled and neurodiverse children safe when it comes to preventing child sexual abuse.

We’re going to cover how to manage naming the awkward stuff, helping tamariki understand their body and their needs, navigating carers and visitors in and out of the home, and building the foundations for their positive sexual wellbeing and identity. So, take courage. You’re the ones who care the most. You’re the ones who are there the most. And you’ve told us you need support to have brave conversations.

Join us at The Courage Club

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The Episodes

Episode one

Let's name it

Talking about the awkward stuff

We’re gonna start simply by naming it: we need to talk about how we keep our disabled tamariki safe from sexual harm. We’ll chat about why it’s important to start somewhere when it comes to approaches to safety; helping our tamariki to advocate for themselves; and also talk about some assumptions or ableist narratives that we’ve found we’ve had to overcome.

Transcript — WORD .doc
Episode two

Let's talk about it

Helping tamariki to understand their body and their needs

We chat about helping our young tamariki to communicate about their bodies and their feelings and tuning into it; creating a space where those conversations are normalised; and balancing body autonomy in medical or care environments.

Transcript — WORD .doc
Episode three

Let's think about others

Navigating carers and visitors in and out of the home

We talk about navigating relationships with visitors in and out of the home. That could mean carers, but it also might mean wider whānau at home or out in the world. We chat about communicating with carers and visitors; creating a safe space, being confident in your decisions; balancing privacy with having an open door when it comes to care; and dealing with potential anxiety around it all.

Transcript — WORD .doc
Episode four

Let's plan for the future

Building the foundations for their positive sexual wellbeing and identity

It can feel weird talking about this stuff when our kids are still kids, but building foundations for our children’s positive sexual identity is a strong protective factor in keeping them safe and happy. So we chat about making space for our child as a full human being; helping them to build a strong sense of their own identity; and teaching them what they’ll need to know for the future.

Transcript — WORD .doc
Episode five

Let's ask for help

We heard from our advisors

This podcast was made with the support of experienced advisors from HELP Auckland, Family Action, and other agencies. So for our final episode, we gathered some more questions from our parent community and panel. Then we sat down with our advisors to hear from them about the practical steps we can take to ensure our children’s sexual safety.

Transcript — WORD .doc

The Club

Our Host

Emily Writes


All of the mahi of my life is around serving my community and doing what I can to support others. This mahi is all about coming together and doing what we can as parents, carers, and people who love the tamariki in our lives to protect them as much as we can. It's a natural fit because I want a world where our tamariki can thrive and be safe and this project is all about asking "what can we do to try to make that happen?". I hope this will be a beginning! I hope it will be the first step toward brave, bold, powerful conversations that make our homes and communities safer for our precious tamariki.

Our Panel

Kiki Van Newtown


I want to make sure that the world is a more accessible, welcoming, and safe place for future generations of disabled kids. A world where disability, sexuality, and gender are celebrated as part of the beautiful magic that makes us all unique. I want disabled kids to grow up with easy access to the care, information and accommodations that meet their needs as complex and multifaceted people, and for parents to be supported to advocate for and empower their kids on this journey.

Lina Beech


I have a strong urge to ensure safety and inclusion is considered and delivered for children with disabilities. My dreams for the future of this work are that it helps someone somewhere, and allows people permission to talk more about it. I want people to feel they can act in small or big ways, always furthering the demystifying of sexual safety and disabilities.

Angela Walter


I have a passion for supporting others as they travel their own paths. My dream for this work is that our tamariki will grow to be adults with more knowledge and understanding that will keep them and others safe from harm, and that their wider whānau will understand that this is only another part of life that everyone deserves to experience in a positive way - let's talk about it and throw off the shame.

Our Advisors

Kate Mortimer

Disability Advisor for HELP Auckland

I’m a mum to a teenage girl who lives with Down syndrome. I’ve become a staunch advocate for our tamariki who live with disability including their right to be and feel safe and to have safe relationships. As a counsellor I know how important it is to have conversations about safety that are appropriate for their age or developmental stage. I know how hard that is in reality. I have felt at a loss of where to start with these conversations and felt really alone in this. There are resources out there about talking to kids about safety but I would read them and think, ‘yeah, but what about my kid?’ The resources did not always recognise the unique difficulties we face when we're raising tamariki who live with disability. 

I want parents and caregivers to feel supported to have these brave conversations, for them to know that they can do it, that there is support for them and they're not alone.  

My dreams for the future of this work is that all children who live with disability are safe from harm. I would love for every child who lives with a disability to have people in their lives who are well resourced to have courageous conversations with them about safety and sexuality. I would love for the work to ripple through our children's lives, supporting them to feel safe in and proud of their bodies and empowering them to have safe, consensual, loving and fulfilling relationships when they are older. 

Olivia Bloom

Clinical Operations Manager at Family Action

My interest in the prevention of child sexual harm stems from my experiences working alongside disabled people and in disability organisations, the family violence and sexual violence sector, and my research in sexual health and reproductive rights of women with intellectual disabilities. This project is something new, something different. It's raw, honest, and most importantly it's been authentically collaborative with families.

It would be a dream if this work helped to open up the kōrero around sexual health and sexual safety for disabled people, and for whānau and organisations (disability and mainstream) to come together to improve sexual health, rights and harm prevention support for disabled people.

My dream is that for those feeling stuck, worried, or alone that they find this a beneficial resource.


These brave conversations mentioned a few things that may not be familiar to all of us. Here's a wee glossary of terminology, jargon, acronyms and abbreviations and even some resources mentioned across the podcast episodes.

Asperger’s syndrome

Aspergers is a historical/outdated term considered under the banner of Autism, a neurological variation that shapes how people think, act, communicate and perceive the world around them.


A neurological variation that shapes how people think, act, communicate and perceive the world around them.


Uses specific drugs to kill cancer cells while doing the least possible damage to normal cells.

Congenital disorder

Structural or functional anomalies that occur during pregnancy and at birth. Also called birth defects, congenital anomalies or congenital malformations, these conditions develop prenatally and may be identified before or at birth, or later in life.


A mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity.


A neurological condition of the processes involved in the planning of movement to achieve a predetermined idea or purpose, which may affect learning new skills and carrying out those already learned.


Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). A form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences.


Endoscopy is a procedure (diagnostic or therapeutic) where a thin flexible tube called an endoscope is used to view the lining of your stomach/bowel. The tube can also allow special instruments to be passed down the endoscope to take a tiny tissue sample or to remove polyps.


The paralysis of muscles on the side of the body opposite to the area of cerebral (brain) damage.

hypothalamic obesity

Excess weight gain that may follow from an injury to the hypothalamus, a brain region with many important functions.

Medically fragile

Refers to children who have a long term or chronic condition that can result in frequent periods of acute exacerbation or be life threatening, requiring frequent medical supervision or intervention.

Navigating the Journey

A resource that provides key information for the delivery of relationship and sexuality education in primary and secondary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand.


A term used to describe neurological natural variations and differences in the human brain. Increasingly used to describe people with autism, dyspraxia, dyslexia or ADHD.


Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

occupational therapy

Occupational therapy is the art and science of helping people take part in everyday living through their everyday life.

precocious puberty

Early pubertal development


The social model of disability argues that environments and attitudes disable people living with impairments.


Te Ohaakii a Hine – National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together

trauma-informed approach

The principles of Trauma Informed approaches or care is understanding what has happened to a person and their whānau, rather than focusing on what is wrong with a person.


The Courage Club was designed as a resource itself to encourage brave conversations for parents of children with disabilities. It came out of a need: the lack of consistent resources that navigate how we can keep disabled kids safe. 

Here are some other resources - while they might not be specific to disability, they might help build on your expertise.

For younger ages & stages

  • Safe Relationships, Safer Sex
    From family planning

    A booklet developed for use with people who have learning disabilities. It covers learning about our bodies, public and private places, types of relationships and keeping ourselves safe in relationships.

  • Ngā Kākano
    From family planning

    A whānau guide that suggests ways to talk about healthy relationships and sexuality with tamariki, with age appropriate guides.

For older ages & stages

  • Empowerment Trust New Zealand

    A suite of healthy relationships resources developed with and for teens and adults with intellectual disabilities. It provides practical tools to build resiliency and to prevent bullying, violence and abuse.

For others

  • Keeping children safe
    From HELP Auckland

    A range of resources, videos and articles that support building understanding and prevention of child sexual harm, inclusive of how to support children to heal when harm has occurred.

  • Safeguarding children with SEND online training
    From NSPCC

    An e-learning course aimed at education professionals to help identify, understand and acknowledge harm towards disabled children and how to communicate and create a culture of safety and prevention. Note there is a cost for this resource.

  • Podcast: preventing the sexual abuse of disabled children
    From NSPCC

    A learning podcast by professionals focussed on ways to safeguard disabled children and young people.

Need Help?

We know that this topic may be distressing for some of us. If you need to talk, then you can call, email or text these agencies for support anytime. It’s confidential, there’s no pressure and it’s free.

24/7 service aimed at preventing sexual abuse and supporting survivors.

Free crisis helpline
0800 623 1700

24/7 sexual harm helpline.

24/7 helpline
0800 044 334