About Us

Our history

In 2011, three Nelson-based community nurses with child protection expertise and a detective from the local child protection team recognised there was a desperate unmet need for child protection training and guidance in New Zealand. As a team of professionals working in the field of child abuse, we identified an immediate and critical need to train adults who have contact with children, young people and families through their job or as a community member.

We knew that a lack of access to training and guidance could be a significant barrier to helping or protecting children in need or at risk. Our team also recognised that community engagement was crucial to protecting children and young people from abuse and neglect. Safeguarding Children Initiative (SCI) was born.

We established a registered charity, gathered a skilled and dedicated Board and were successful in finding funding via philanthropic trusts.  Our reputation grew and the demand for our training, guidance, and consultancy increased to the point where we were able to appoint permanent team members, rather than trying to run everything in our spare time.

We are now a well-established, sustainable Registered Charity using a combination of fee-paying services and grants/donations to sustain us, underpinned by strong governance.

The success of Safeguarding Children Initiative is our practical approach to a difficult and emotive subject. All our training is delivered by passionate, front-line practitioners, to organisations and communities who care and want to make a difference. Our team has worked directly with children, young people and their families at the level below statutory agencies such as Oranga Tamariki and The Police, so we know what it is like to be faced with child protection concerns. We are just like you.

You’ve heard it before: It takes a village to raise a child. We can work together to build child-focused villages that provide a safe world for every child to grow, thrive and reach their potential. Every child matters and they need us, the villagers to keep them safe.

 Our team

Willow Duffy RN BSc (hons) – General Manager and presenter






Willow is a founding members of SCI and now works as our General Manager. Willow has worked as a nurse and midwife for over 30 years. She has a postgraduate qualification as a Specialist Community Public Health Nurse Practitioner (Health Visitor) from the UK. Willow worked a caseload with child protection concerns on a daily basis and at a time of great change in the child protection system. She also trained as a child protection supervisor for nurses.

Willow came to Aotearoa New Zealand with her husband and two children in 2009, and worked as a Plunket Nurse, and later with youth as a Sexual Health and Family Planning Nurse and as part of a specialist team as a Forensic Nurse for sexual assaults (SAATS/MEDSAC Nurse). Willow has worked as an advisor for Children’s Action Plan and Oranga Tamariki and in 2017 was a finalist in New Zealand Women of Influence Awards.

Willow has led the team as we developed the programmes, courses, and services offered by SCI .  She will never lose her determination and tenacity to improve outcomes for the children and young people. Willow believes that communities hold the key to keeping children and young people safe, and that we all have a vital role to play. Her drive is to protect our most vulnerable citizens and bring their unique needs to the forefront of all we do.


Louise Petzold – Safeguarding Capacity Development and presenter

Louise is from the UK originally, and has lived in Aotearoa New Zealand for 16 years.

Louise has worked with passion in the field of Family Violence and Child Protection for almost 20 years. In the UK, she worked as a Family Law Solicitor before moving to New Zealand, dealing in Legal Aid, Children’s Care proceedings and non- molestation orders. Louise also worked in Prisons in the UK teaching basic education to male prisoners.

Since moving to Aotearoa New Zealand, Louise has been involved with Stopping Violence Services and has been a Ministry of Justice group facilitator and youth worker for nine years. During this time, Louise has deepened her interest in community and organisational responses to child protection and family violence. She has co-developed a family violence case management model for use by organisations.

Louise spent a year working with national child protection training organisation Child Matters which included training Children’s Teams. Louise’s skills in training, collaboration as well as direct front line experience in family violence work, are crucial in helping to develop our Safeguarding Capacity Development service.

Louise believes that we all have a part to play in the welfare of vulnerable children by training ourselves to know how to respond to vulnerability, abuse and neglect, working well together and engaging well with vulnerable whanau.


Kirsten Taylor – Administrator

Kirsten has a wide range of skills in office management.  She has managed call centres overseas, has been a travel agent as well as runs her own business with her husband.  At Safeguarding Children, Kirsten organises everything that is required for our organisation to run efficiently.  She is passionate about Child Protection and is committed to ensuring that the Safeguarding Children Initiative delivers the highest level of service possible.    


John Parsons – Internet Safety and Risk Assessment Consultant

John has been part of our team from the early days of Safeguarding Children Initiative. John has worked with us as a specialist presenter and advisor over the years. He is a national  Internet Safety and Risk Assessment Consultant to schools, the private sector and the health sector, providing specialist advice and direction on the safe use of Digital Communication Technology. We love it when John is able to work with us inbetween his busy schedule.

John works alongside Police, Oranga Tamariki and Health Professionals delivering training in child protection to attendees who come from a wide range of professions. He delivers cyber safety workshops to those who work with young people in areas of health, education and safety. John also delivers parent/caregiver cyber safety workshops through school or community-based initiatives. He works with individuals, young people and families who have become ensnared by predatory adults across digital networks, those who have been cyber abused and children and youth who abuse others using online technologies.

John has contributed to a key section of our eLearning course, Fundamentals of Child Protection.

John Parsons
Internet Safety and Risk Assessment Consultant
Email: info@s2e.co.nz
Website: www.s2e.co.nz


Esther Cowell – psychologist (presenter)

Esther Cowell is an experienced Child and Family Psychologist currently working at Maitai School in Nelson. Esther works on an individual basis with young people and families, and on sexual education and overseeing behavior management policy. Esther has a wealth of experience working with children and young people. Esther has a masters in psychology and a postgraduate diploma in child and family psychology.


Our presenters

All our presenters are experienced professionals who work on the frontline.

They know what it’s like to worry about a child or young person, how hard it can be to make a Report of Concern or share information about a situation you are concerned about, and what it’s like to face the realities of safeguarding children and young people.

Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is a group of people who are deeply concerned about child neglect and abuse, and are utterly committed to stopping it. They have strong backgrounds in governance, business, research, finances, and child protection

They understand the barriers and are determined to overcome them to make New Zealand a better place for all children.

Together we can make a difference.


Meet our Board
Annette Milligan – Chair

Annette is a Registered Nurse with a teaching background who combines the worlds of education and health. In 1989 she founded the award-winning INP Medical Clinic which is a women’s health clinic. In 2000 she co-founded Health Click which produces resources to teach sexuality education, especially to those with learning disabilities. Annette is the Clinical Director for Women, Child & Youth for the Nelson-Marlborough District Health Board, and is a Director for MEDSAC (Medical Clinicians in Sexual Abuse Care). She has had wide experience as a professional Director in several companies.


Chris Meade

Chris is a business person who runs her own consultancy. She is involved in a new business start-up and devotes one-third of her time to the not for profit world. She has had over 25 years of experience in business, working as an HR professional and whilst at Downer, as Executive General Manager of Human Resources, she volunteered through VSA for an assignment in Timor Leste.This experience changed her life. Her passion for people in the world of work has extended to a passion for how people in the face of adversity can best live their lives.

She is delighted to be part of the Safeguarding Children Initiative Team and be part of a group of professionals who so wholeheartedly believe in keeping tamariki safe and focus their efforts so effectively.


Christine Palmer

Christine has a degree in marketing and a 20-year career in market research where she has held the position of Senior Account Director and Acting Managing Director for a large multi-national research agency. Over the years she has managed research programmes for many high profile government and ‘blue chip’ commercial organisations. Since relocating from Wellington to Nelson in 2007, Christine has continued to work in the market research sector operating her own home-based research agency Q&A Research.

Christine is currently a Board Member for Volunteer Nelson and is delighted to be a member of the Safeguarding Children Initiative Board where she will add value via her skills in research, evaluation, and marketing.


Julia McCarthy

Julia has recently left a 40 year career in Banking – the last 25 years of which have ben as a Senior leader undertaking Regional Management roles, and for the last 2 years in a key role as Business lead for the Bank’s largest transformational project.

Julia is an enthusiastic and proven results driven leader who understands the importance of working alongside people to deliver the desired outcome. Julia shows a positive “can do” outlook on her work and her life and thrives on change. “I am delighted to join this board and to share my skills to continue to strengthen an already successful initiative”


Helen Watson

Helen works in governance across the non-profit sector in Nelson. In addition to the SCI board, she is currently Chair of the Victory Primary School Board of Trustees, as well as the newly appointed Chair of Victory Community Centre. She is on the board of Workstar Supported Employment and is a member of the Governance Group for Te Kāhui Ako ki Whakatū. In her spare time, Helen works as a researcher in the health sector.

Detective Neil Kitchen

Neil is a Detective who joined the Police in the United Kingdom in 1985, specialising in Intelligence and Organised Crime detection. He transferred to the New Zealand Police in 2008, working for two years in Auckland before transferring to Nelson. He has chosen to work in the area of child protection over the past few years. His work has included dealing with victims and offenders both adult and children and their families, coordinating a multi-agency approach, which engages health professionals, Oranga Tamariki, victim support groups, the legal profession and the Police.

Whilst accepting child protection work is difficult and challenging, Neil says the work is, without doubt, the most rewarding of his career.

Paul Rosanowski

Paul is an accountant and specialises in business innovation and growth, from both an operating and a governance perspective and enjoys working with the Safeguarding Children Initiative Board. Most recently he has worked at Crowe Horwath, and has advised clients across various sectors including: construction, manufacturing, distribution, aviation and government.