Challenges of Leading a Business No-one Wants to talk about w/ Holly-Ann Martin – She Leads She Thrives Podcast Ep 69

Holly Ann Martin_She Leads She Thrives Podcast Episode 69 Instagram Post - Holly Ann Martin_Episode 69_She Leads She Thrives Podcast | Safe for Kids | Protective Behaviours | Business coaching Perth Australia
Holly Ann Martin_She Leads She Thrives Podcast Episode 69 Instagram Post - Holly Ann Martin_Episode 69_She Leads She Thrives Podcast | Safe for Kids | Protective Behaviours | Business coaching Perth Australia

In this episode Holly-Ann and I talk about

There are some people you meet in life that leave an imprint on your heart for who they are and what they stand for. Today’s guest, Holly-Ann Martin OAM is that kind of person. I was first introduced to Holly-Ann by a mutual friend after hearing about her life changing work teaching protective behaviours to children and others in remote communities in Australia.

I was blown away by Holly-Ann’s commitment to what she does, in spite of so many odds stacked against her. Whilst she is in the business of changing the lives of children for the better, getting people to understand why protective behaviours are essential for our children to know means having difficult and uncomfortable conversations so many of us shy away from.

It is this determined tenacity that has seen Holly-Ann receive recognition and awards, and whilst they’re nice to receive they are not what drives her. This episode will be inspirational and motivational and get you thinking about how you can take your truth and turn it into positive impact and legacy.

In this episode

  • 20:49 How do you support yourself to keep moving forward?
  • 24:10 How do you stay connected to that why?
  • 40:29 What role does leadership play in your life and business?
  • 44:15 How do you know when you’re thriving?
  • 46:56 Connect with Holly-ann and resources
  • 50:20 What’s a final piece of wisdom that you’d like to share?
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Connect with guest Holly-Ann Martin

Meet Holly-Ann Martin

Holly-ann Martin OAM is the founder and Managing Director of Safe4Kids, started in 2007. With over 35 years of experience in teaching child abuse prevention education. Holly-ann has presented the thought-provoking Safe4Kids program at over 40 conferences to audiences across the globe, from the United Kingdom and the United States of America to every State and territory of Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mexico and Qatar.

Holly-ann was inducted into the Western Australian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016 in recognition of her work in education and her passion for child abuse prevention. In 2022, she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for service to children by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Connect with Holly-Ann

Episode Transcript


She Lead She Thrives, the home of inspired conversations, practical and creative wisdom, expansive leadership and business insights, abundant Bragaudacious moments of celebration and useful info you can actually do something with.


You’ll hear about mindset marketing, money, magnetism, self awareness and the Thrive Factor Framework, it’s Archetypes and more. Amplify your role as a leader, a self led soul. Tap into your effortless success zone. Turn your ingeniousness and wisdom into profitable income streams.


From solo shows to guests you’ll definitely want more from, there’s something for every ambitious ingenious soul. 


I’m Shannon Dunn, a true OG of the business coaching space, with an obsession with thriving. You are so welcome here. Let’s dive into today’s episode.


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Shannon Dunn  01:16

Great big hello everyone. Welcome back to another phenomenal – putting you on the spot Holly-ann – phenomenal guest episode for today. I’m Shannon Dunn, a long term businesses self leadership coach and your host here at She Leads She Thrives. If you’re a new listener, welcome if you’ve been around for a while, as I say I think just about every single time I have a guest episode. I’ve got another incredible, incredible soul to share with you today. And I also like to share as we start before I share Holly-ann’s bio today, I want to share with you about how I know her. Some of the guests I know in person like I do with you Holly-ann. And some of the guests I’ve just known online for a long time or there’s been other connections. But I know Holly-ann like I’ve kind of lost track of how long ago we actually met through like mutual kind of friends and stuff in business in Perth because you and I are in the same city. But it’s a while back now, isn’t it? 


Holly-ann Martin  02:07

Oh, I’d say at least 8 years. 


Shannon Dunn  02:08

Easily. And fascinated by what you were doing in your business, which you’re going to get to today. And just getting to know you. And then I know that when you came to retreat with me at the end of 2019. Like I can’t believe that’s nearly four years ago. Right. Getting to know you in a whole other way of that beautiful week we spent together with a group and the the courage that I saw in you on another level, to really kind of connect with yourself to support your business was just such a joy. 


Shannon Dunn  02:09

So thank you for saying yes. When I reached out, it’s like come and be on the podcast. come and chat with me. And I’m really excited to see what we talk about today. Because your business, but also when everyone because like what are we going to talk about? I’m sure they’re curious, when I get to share with you what Holly-ann’s area of expertise is, we will talk a little bit about that as well. Even though it’s not directly related to business, it’s important. And as I said to Hollyanne, before we started recording today, it would be I think be remiss of us not to give you an opportunity to share some of what could be very helpful for the people that are going to be listening to us today. 


Holly-ann Martin  03:20

Well, they’re going to be the parents, they’re going to be Aunts, and Grandmothers, and maybe Dads…do Dads listen to your podcast. 


Shannon Dunn  03:30

I do believe there are some, even though it She Leads She Thrives that there is the you know, I have kind of like feedback from males every now and again. And we have had one male guest on the podcast. So yeah, I think you know, who knows, right? And it might be that someone listens and ends up sharing this episode with others because of what we could end up talking about.


Holly-ann Martin  03:50

And everybody knows a child.


Shannon Dunn  03:53

Let me share your bio so people can get a sense of who you are. And then we’ll get into our conversation for today. So Holly-ann Martin is the Founder and Managing Director of Safe4Kids started in 2007. Right? been around a while it’s like me, I’m about the same kind of timeframe and say, whoa, how did we get there?


Shannon Dunn  04:10

And with over 35 years of experience in teaching child abuse prevention education, she’s presented the thought provoking, Safe4Kids program at over 40 conferences to audiences across the globe, from the United Kingdom, United States of America to every State and Territory of Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Mexico and Qatar. Like, I’m sure there’s like so many more that that’s just phenomenal when you think, like you need to visualize mapping it all out on a globe and seeing all the places Yeah, that’s cool. 


Shannon Dunn  04:45

Holly Ann Martin was also inducted into the West Australian Women’s Hall of Fame in 2016. In recognition of her work in education, her passion for and commitment to child abuse prevention, and in 2022, so just last year, she was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for Service to children by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Oh my goodness. I remember like celebrating that what a surprise celebration. Yeah, a couple of friends and your immediate family, which was such a lovely thing to acknowledge that’s a big deal, my friend, right? 


Holly-ann Martin  05:17

I still pinch myself. I still Yeah, it’s still very humbling, to be honest.


Shannon Dunn  05:22

Yeah, I guess that’s one thing that really is always stood out to me about you as an individual, your courage to keep doing what you do. And we’re gonna talk about some of the challenges and things that you faced and navigated through. But also how humble you are. Right? And I don’t know. Holly-ann and I have it have a habit of…well  me, I guess, of sometimes making you get quite emotional. I know that you know, cryings okay, here. If you do that, I’m not going to make you feel terrible. But I that really has stood out to me in the time I’ve known you is like how humble you are? And of course, I remember. I think it was our mutual friend Donna, who said to me, like Holly-ann’s got an OAM. And so of course she has. Like that was kind of to us as your friends is like, Oh, of course. So yeah, it was lovely to celebrate that with you. 


Shannon Dunn  06:11

So I want to go back to the like the beginning even before Safe4Kids, and hear a little bit from you about what how you ended up being in business, and doing what you’re doing. So if you could share a little bit of the story behind your business, whatever feels appropriate for you to share. I think that’s a really good starting point. Because it’s not every day, you get to meet someone who works in the space that you work in. Right? Like it’s not a kind of common thing necessarily. 


Holly-ann Martin  06:42

And from where I started, to be honest, because I was a teacher assistant working with children with special needs. Yeah. And I was in a school where there was a critical incident. And I was in one of the first schools in Western Australia trained to protect behaviors. So for 25 years, I taught it to the children that I’d worked with. And then before I left education, I was in a school where the principal is very progressive, and she had me teaching protective behaviours in three -And it was a language development said we had three sites – So I was going across and teaching it to all of the children there. In 2007, I went up into two remote communities in the Kimberley, where some horrendous things were happening, it was all over the front page of The West Australian. And at the same time, I’d met a lady that worked for Child Protection and shown her some of my resources and she said, Holly, you need to back yourself, you need to get this out. 


Holly-ann Martin  07:37

So I just saw a huge need for resources. And you know, people were being trained in protective behaviors, but the people that were training hadn’t necessarily taught it to children. You know, basically my program is 25 years of worth of failure.  So basically, I took a quarter million dollar loan out on my home, took two years leave without pay to see if I could make a go of it. And been doing it full time ever since. Yeah, it’s, you know, I just saw a huge need for to help both teachers and parents have uncomfortable conversations with children. But you know, when I think back now going, who in their right mind would start a business about the unmost popular topic in the world? So it’s, that’s what keeps me going to be honest, because I’m trying to, you know, stay ahead. Like, I used to say our program was the most confronting, i’ll say progressive because it’s better language. But because I’m so blessed to have worked with children from, you know, two to 17. You know, I do a lot of work in remote Aboriginal communities. And that’s not because it’s happening more than it’s just because of word of mouth and the way that I teach resonates with children in remote communities. But that the fact that, you know, I’m in front of children and, you know, kids, the world has changed, and some people are still teaching protective behaviours like it was the 80s when it first came to Australia. Wow, there was no TikTok back then. 


Shannon Dunn  09:25

I know, technology as a bare minimum, is got to be one of the most significant influences on what you need to be teaching now. 


Holly-ann Martin  09:36

So you know, because children will tell me something or, I’ll see something, oh, gosh, I need to write a book about that. I need to write a song about that. So I’ve been blessed to have written 11 songs with children in remote communities. And you know, they’re so on point because, and the I can honestly hand on heart say the children who have written these songs because the latest one is about sextortion. and it says talking stories rather than telling stories. And I just wanted to tweak it, but they’re so onpoint. So and because it’s sort of, like I looked at setting up a not-for-profit. But when we looked at our business model, we were actually advised by lawyers not to do that. Because everything that I come up with in my head, we own.


Holly-ann Martin  10:34

Yeah, it would belong to the not-for-profit. So, unfortunately, because we’re not a not-for-profit, we can’t apply for grants. So it’s sort of like a double edged sword. But at least I don’t have to go to a board and get things, you know, rubber stamped and mean, who in their right mind would write a song about sextortion? It’s needed. 


Shannon Dunn  10:54

But its not the thing that you think, oh, that’s just a nice thing to do today. I know. 


Holly-ann Martin  11:00

Tim Minchin, I joke about, you know, maybe he would write well, because he wrote the brilliant Cardinal Pell song. Yeah. But it’s really important that, you know, I keep up to date, I keep, you know, the world is changing so rapidly, and to try and keep parents up to date as well, because, you know, they didn’t grow up with phones. So they don’t know how to parent in a in a world where technology is.


Shannon Dunn  11:28

Definitely, and it’s something else that I’ve always found so fascinating about your work is your commitment to understand, like so many different technology driven platforms that children are accessing, right. And I think you and I are kind of in a similar age group, and we didn’t grow up with technology. But you would be one person high on my list. If I wanted to know about some specific platform, how it works. Like, I could ask you, and you would know about it, and then probably told me about three more I haven’t even heard of yet. Right. So your commitment to that learning is always like been so interesting to me. 


Holly-ann Martin  12:05

Well we have to. Because technology is the new we used to talk, you know, back in the 80s, about stranger danger. You know, the white vans riding around parks trying to abduct kids. Kids are online, and kids are at more risk in their own bedrooms playing some of the platforms they’re on, than playing in the park by themselves for to be honest.


Shannon Dunn  12:28

And it’s fascinating to think about how much a child’s childhood has changed. And I can’t – like you and I are not parents – but sometimes I have gratitude for that. Because I can only imagine the challenges that actually do come with parenting way beyond what we tend to think about right? So much. All right. 


Shannon Dunn  12:49

So we’ve had lots of conversations over the time, we’ve known each other as well about this topic of expertise. And as you refer to I’m just trying to think what the names are in that like obstacles you face, in trying to speak about the unspeakable. That was the phrase that you use, which I thought yeah, that is so apt. So what have you learned from  being in that space, and still continuing to move forward and navigating? It’s such a topic, that is an unspeakable topic for so many different reasons for people. As I said, it’s not that people are ignorant of the fact things are happening, and that there needs to be support and education for their children, for themselves. But like, we don’t really want to talk about it. So how, what have you learned about that, through the course of this being your business? 


Holly-ann Martin  13:34

Well to try and not make it scary. That’s why I wrote children’s books, because, you know, I wrote two books to help parents talk to their children about pornography. Now, who, again, who in their right mind would write these, but I’ve had to self publish, because they’re not, you know, I’m not Mem Fox and they’re not those popular books, but they’re needed. So I also wrote about a book about children exhibiting harmful sexual behavior. So I want to help parents have those conversations in a child friendly way, because I believe that we need to stop protective education by three at the latest and we need to talk about pornography from six at the latest.


Shannon Dunn  14:20

Oh, goodness, yeah. And,


Holly-ann Martin  14:23

And when parents hear that they get upset and get cross and things like that. So I hope and, that’s why I’m so grateful that I did your Archetypes and stuff like that. And because I’ve got quite a few of them. I think I’ve got 6. I am actually able to code switch and things like that. So, when I did the course with you, it sort of made sense. Like, you know, I’ve been really blessed to have run 96 workshops with solely Aboriginal men talking openly as we’re talking now about child abuse, and that’s unheard of. Because of my Shapeshifter and things like that I can just go into it’s not naming, blaming and shaming, it’s just simply, this is what I’m teaching your children, thought you’d like to know about it. And, you know, when I have to talk to the men so openly, and a lot of people say, oh, you can’t talk to Aboriginal men about that, that’s not culturally sensitive. And the man said, Holly, we like you. Because you tell us straightway. And they’re our kids, too.


Holly-ann Martin  15:31

And I’m blessed to be able to code switch, and I use, like, when I’m talking about online grooming or grooming with children with Aboriginal people, we call it “friending them up”. Okay? Because if I said “grooming” they would think on putting on makeup and brushing your hair.  So, to be able to understand, you know, what my strengths are and sort of nurture those has been really wonderful. But I was a teacher assistant, what did I know about marketing? What did I know about anything? 


Shannon Dunn  16:11

The topic that you teach about is obviously, as we said, it’s not the, the sexy kind of, fun, everyone wants to know about it. But most of us, so the thing you have in common with a large percentage of business owners is that we come to business, not knowing how to lead a business, how to do marketing, how to deal with the financial aspects, and actually get out in front of clients, like we don’t, that’s a common thing for business owners. And like very much, like, knowing your story about how you ended up in your business, you didn’t start out to do that, like, it’s very much like the accidental business owner. And I love women who have come to do something that like for you you’ve been doing for such a long time now. And it’s kind of just, it’s just who is part of your identity, a big part of your identity. But you didn’t kind of go wake up one day and go, Oh, let me just do this thing. Like it wasn’t intentional, and thought out in that kind of a way of mapped it all out, and all the moving parts, it’s just, I know, for you, like a lot of us so much growth and learning along the way, yes about your area of expertise, but about how to actually do that in a business so that it actually the message gets to where it needs to go. 


Holly-ann Martin  17:25

I do sometimes fall down, because I’m so busy working. I know, that’s a cliche, but you know, you’re working in your business rather than on your business. We do. Yeah, but I have to because basically, unless I’m standing in front of children, I don’t earn any money. So you know, I’ve got a head full of 1000 ideas of new resources that I need to produce.  So what happens is my husband I was lucky enough to marry after I had my business, a beautiful man. He used to work for the Fremantle Dockers. And I joke that he left the losing team to come on a winning team.


Shannon Dunn  18:05

Just as a side note because we have such a large  North American audience. That’s right. I’ll just point that out. That is a local Australian Rules Football team. And it’s the one that historically in Perth, where Holly and I based hasn’t been as successful as the other team, which Holly and I both go for. Just for context, anyone listening.


Holly-ann Martin  18:27

But I joke he left the losing team to come on are willing team. So, we’re both trying to  – neither of us have children- so this is our legacy is how we look at it. So I do training, to do the next lot of resources and the next sort of resources. So trying to find time to do the marketing and do the all of the side of things. 


Holly-ann Martin  18:57

That’s right, it’s never ending, right? And and then you spend time in remote communities where I have no doubt that you’re also challenged with access to internet, right to be able to actually like share something in terms of a piece of content that’s relevant or forward to an article that you’ve written or been quoted in or that you’ve seen is a good resource. So there’s those kind of gaps as well as those interruptions. 


Holly-ann Martin  19:22

Totally. Some communities I have to actually go out into, I have to get into the local wifi that’s only open at a certain time and then I’ve got crowds of kids around because they want to see Miss Holly. It can be a real hoot. And I’ve got dogs trying to hump your leg.


Shannon Dunn  19:43

But as you said before, you have the Shapeshifter Alchemist Archetype. If anyone’s listening to us chat and you haven’t listened to my episode where I talk about the Shapeshifter Alchemist, go back and listen to that. With her ability to be so flexible and adaptable and go with the flow and as you talked about before, be able to kind of be the version of yourself that’s most appropriate for the audience that you’re in – yes, such a gift for what you’re doing, right. 


Shannon Dunn  20:11

And then-  just talking about Archetypes for a moment now. The other one, the Mediator Diplomat Archetype, which is the Archetype of things being truth, fear, just equal, you know, the equity aspect, that is a huge I know, driver behind your “I’ve got to keep going”. Even though this is hard, you know, it’s challenging. And I know that we having to navigate in this space and this topic, that you’ve probably had a lot more no’s and being ignored when you’ve tried to kind of reach out and teach and do different things, then you have yes’s over all these years, right? just because of the nature of it all. 


Shannon Dunn  20:49

So how do you support yourself to keep moving forward, when it might feel like you’re actually taking a lot of steps sideways or backwards, large periods of time?


Holly-ann Martin  20:59

My husband’s favorite saying is we have a household disappointment streak. Because, you know, we’ve been promised money by government, and when there’s a change in government, and then that money disappears, and, you know, all of these things. But another thing that I’m really concerned about for myself is vicarious trauma, because I hear so many horrible, horrible stories, and I have parents contacting me all the time, you know, this has happened to my child, how do I, you know, how can you help, which you don’t get paid for that, but you have to do it, because there’s nowhere else for them to go. So


Shannon Dunn  21:37

It’s also a part of your character, you would share and you would support anyway, because that’s who you are, right.


Holly-ann Martin  21:50

To keep myself safe, mentally, my happy place is rock and roll dancing. And I also see a kinesiologist, where I go, and basically, I just cry for three hours, and she balances me and I feel like I can continue because I am the face of our business. And there is only you know, my husband does the back end stuff. But if I don’t.. sometimes I’ve let my health, I have a looked after myself and that sort of stuff. And it’s really difficult when you’re in a remote community, especially to go walking, because there are something called cheeky dogs. And again, for your international listeners, they’re vicious dogs in communities. And if you’re walking around there, they’re likely to bite you. So it’s not always safe to go walking and stuff. So it’s really,  I think as business owners, we really need to because especially if you’re solo like us, you know, because we’re so busy and just keep going, sometimes we forget to take time for ourselves. And so this year, I’ve tried to do that, because I’m also getting older. So it’s really important that you know, I take that there. 


Shannon Dunn  23:12

It’s like that choosing to have a strategy of topping up your cup before you go into a place where it might be drained a bit, rather than going in kind of, you know, equilibrium or a bit drained and then just getting completely depleted. And that’s where we get sick, whether it’s physically or emotionally otherwise, not such a good thing. And you mentioned the dogs, but I can also imagine that with the remoteness of some of the communities that there’d be times where getting access to fresh food, and things like that -so challenging. So in terms of like being able to have good nutrition to support your well being. Yeah, all sorts of different interruptions there. But you still persist.


Holly-ann Martin  23:50

But back to you know, you sort of asked initially was “what’s my why?” When you’ve got those big brown eyes looking up at you – it just keeps you going. My thing is just one. 


Holly-ann Martin  24:06

If I can keep one safe – that would be worth it. 


Shannon Dunn  24:10

I can only imagine how overwhelming though at times the enormity of your mission must feel right. So how do you stay connected to that why and keep the you know, the motivation and the momentum moving in a hopefully forward trajectory, most of the time, when it feels like that maybe no one’s listening or not enough people actually want to acknowledge the importance of this. 


Holly-ann Martin  24:38

Sometimes I feel like one of those clowns that gets punched in the face and they just bring back with big smile on their face. I’m really lucky to have such a supportive husband. And even though I sometimes try and protect him as well, I don’t tell him about all the horrible stories because he’s quite a soft soul. And I don’t ever want to traumatize him either. So but you know, it’s really important that you know, I’ve got a really good, you know, people like yourself and like Donna and people that when I need a hug, I can get a hug sort of thing. So, I think it’s really important as business owners that we have a net.  Well, one of the things we teach kids is to have a safety team of five adults they can talk to if they feel unsafe. And you know, I’m really fortunate to have a safety team  of people like yourself and Donna that I can go to or just have a whinge and get a hug.


Shannon Dunn  25:38

Offload. And just to have some different human connection and people that I think we’re surrounding ourselves with those key people that support us and what we do, even though we might like you, and I don’t get to see each other very often, because you travel so much. And I know when you downtime, you want to spend it with Roger, and like there’s other things as well. But when we do catch up, the meaningfulness behind that, because we understand how precious it is. But  when you can do that, and again top that cup up in the times where you might be feeling very alone and isolated, you can think about the people that you you know, saw the last time you’re at home or months before to remember that there you do have your own safety team. 


Holly-ann Martin  26:18

And its talking your walk really.


Shannon Dunn  26:23

But you’re right, we all need the safety team of some kind. I think business is definitely something that opens up the need for us as a safe kind of little circle like what do they call it,  your circle of trust people that you can lean into, even if it’s just sporadically all the time, knowing that they truly do have your back and want to support you. So yeah, great kind of analogy there with what you do with the kids. 


Shannon Dunn  26:47

So I think it would be remiss of us, as I said earlier, for us not to tap into though some of your wisdom and your expertise around this. For anyone who’s listening, that’s a parent or Grandparent, Aunts, Uncles is that if we do have Uncles listening, caregivers of children in some capacity, no matter where you are in the world, so Holly-ann, kind of what’s the first steps to take that we can any of us to try and support our kids to be as safe as possible.? So particularly to starting with the online space, because we talked about that beforehand, that is such a prevalence of issue in this modern world in which our kids know more about technology than most of the people looking after them. Yeah. 


Holly-ann Martin  27:26

And that’s exactly right. And we talk about cyberspace and the real world. For children, it’s all one world, because they’ve never ever known a world without it.


Shannon Dunn  27:35

Yes, is true.


Holly-ann Martin  27:36

Oh, you know, I’m really fortunate that when I learned originally, so the program that our program’s based on is called Protective Behaviours. And it came to Australia in the late 80s, in the place of Stranger Danger. But the me, I’m really lucky, because our cyber stuff is based on the original program anyway. So what we need for parents or for any adult is to have open communication with children. As you mentioned before, I don’t have children of my own, and I know how close you are to your nieces and nephew, your will be on their safety team, because you’ll be the cool Aunt. Yeah, quite often children won’t tell their parent that you know, they made a mistake and sent a naked image or, you know, they’re being online bullied or whatever, because they fear that the phone will be taken away, or they’ll get into trouble and things like that. So for the people listening, just to have conversations with the children in their lives and say, nothing you’ll ever tell me will stop me loving you. Kids need to hear that, a million times.


Shannon Dunn  28:45

Such a beautiful way to say it, isn’t it? Yeah, I know that like when I think about with my nieces and my nephew, all of them because the little one’s kind of nearly seven right through to the nearly 19 year old now. Like there’s a bigger age gap there. And but I’ve always said to them, if there’s something that you ever can’t tell your Mum or Dad, I’m here to listen, no matter what it is. And I’ve said like and to be honest, if it’s if it’s appropriate, and it needs to be kept a secret between us, because you want that trust and you’re not in danger. I will hold that in my vault kind of thing. But if you’re in danger, or something like that, then I think it’s my job -on your behalf if that comes to that – to talk to your actual parents. And I’ve said that since they were all little.


Holly-ann Martin  29:33

Yeah, so you know, we say we can talk to someone about anything and that’s why we have the safety team of the five adults they can talk to. So we use the hand. So on the thumb is anybody from their home and then the two people from childcare or two people from school and then two other people. So that is where the Aunts, Uncles and Grandparents, people from church, next door neighbors.


Shannon Dunn  29:55

That’s a really great way to break it down. That  kids that can identify different types of people in their broader network, where some it’s not just you have to focus on like people at home where there actually may not be where there’s safety. 


Holly-ann Martin  30:14

And so especially at the moment with this online, so sextortion here in Australia, and I know you’ve got a worldwide audience, it’s exactly the same across the world. But here in Australia, our federal police are receiving 300 reports of teenagers being so sextortion is where they, they might get sent an image, a naked image and then they say, I sent you one, now you send me one. Ah, okay. And so they’re receiving 300 reports of this a month, 90% of those reports are young men from eight to 24. And so, you know, young people are making the mistake and taking the image and then saying, right, now you need to give me $5,000, I don’t have $5,000, okay, $500, I don’t have any money. Well, if you don’t have any money, you either need to send me more photos of yourself, or better still go and video your little brothers and sisters naked. 


Holly-ann Martin  31:17

And so, you know, young people are making the mistake, but they need to know that there are places to report that. So I spend a lot of time talking to adults about here in Australia, we have, we’re so blessed to have the E-Safety Commission, which is where cyber bullying would be reported to. And then if they have either received a naked picture, or somebody’s grooming them online, we have the ACCCE, the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation. And so the other place people online are approaching children is when they’re playing online games like Fortnite, Roblox, or Minecraft. And there’ll be offered V bucks or row bucks, which are basically virtual dollars in the game. And then, of course, kids want those dollars. And they get you know, they’re getting groomed there. 


Holly-ann Martin  32:12

 So it’s really important that parents have these conversations and know where to go to get help. If your child wants to download an app, or whatever it is to actually go to somewhere like Common Sense Media. They could go to the E-safety Commission. But I send people to Common Sense Media, because I find them the most up to date, because they’re a business. 


Shannon Dunn  32:43

Different motivation, isn’t it, to get the resources that are out there current.


Holly-ann Martin  32:48

Also, it’s not just about apps and things, they also will review movies and things like that. But what I love about them is they’ll say, these are the pros. These are the cons and here’s a conversation to have with your child.


Shannon Dunn  33:02

That’s so powerful and useful, isn’t it? 


Holly-ann Martin  33:05

And for parents to have conversations, you know, here in Australia, we think we’re really good at teaching children sex education. We are failing children.  Especially in schools. We might talk about STIs and unwanted pregnancies, but I need parents to be their child’s Google. Don’t ever say your child go and google it. Because if they hear something on the radio or in the playground, that they’re gonna go and google it. That’s why I say that children, we have to have the conversation about pornography by six at the latest. Because I don’t call it photography with six year olds, I call them private pictures and private movies. But I want children to go and ask the parent rather than…. 


Shannon Dunn  33:50

…explore for themselves or find another place to ask that might not be safe. 


Holly-ann Martin  33:59

There’s so much pornography on YouTube. And you’ll remember this. When we were on the retreat. There was somebody on the retreat that was talking about TikTok and at the time. I hate TikTok, TikTok is terrible. It is still terrible. But I had to suck it up and actually go on TikTok because I had three police officers in three different states. They said Holly, get over yourself. That’s where people are, and they need to hear your education. And so because I talked so much about TikTok and I go into schools and tell parents get the kids off TikTok, all the parents have got their kids off TikTok, but they’re all watching YouTube shorts, which is just TikToks. 


Shannon Dunn  34:41

Something else. Right. Yeah. So and this is, I think part of the nature of the curiosity of just being human, but little humans, they know more about how to access information online than most of the caregivers that they have. So they’ll find an alternative, which clever but maybe not so clever, depends on the outcome or what the result is and what they’re actually being able to access. 


Holly-ann Martin  35:10

Sometimes parents are busy, I understand that. And I’m not here to parent shame. But one of the things I say to parents is there should never be any technology in bedrooms or bathrooms. There’s Madonna King here in Australia has released a book just recently about a gentleman named John Rouse and the Argos team who spend their life trying to catch predators. And so I’ve been watching a couple of interviews and stuff that have been going on and, and so John is a police officer. And he’s saying, when they’re looking at the child abuse material, so much of it is actually produced by children themselves, because they’ve been groomed online. But it’s all taken in children’s bedrooms or in bathrooms. Parents must not let technology in those places. 


Holly-ann Martin  35:59

When I’m working with kids in grade three, so they’re eight, or nine, two thirds of the class tell me they go online when their parents are asleep. And so, you know, no technology, you know, either have a lock box that you can, you can now buy lock box charge boxes, I know. And it needs to be, you know, in a public place, and things like that. So, you know, I hope people listening to this will have those conversations and not be scared. Because if we shy away from these big conversations, and something happens to a child, I think they can’t come and tell us, if you’re on the front foot and say you can talk to me about anything. And we’ve had open conversations about you know, your bodies and things like that. They’ll know that if something happens, that they can come to you.


Shannon Dunn  36:03

I think that one of the best things as an adult with any contact with children that you can do for yourself is to educate yourself. And I know when you put your online course out, kind of to the general public – which is a few years ago now, isn’t it – that I remember I invested in that. Because I yeah, I don’t I’m not a mother, but I am an Aunt to four incredible children. I have other you know, kids of friends and you know, further afield in my network. And if I can support -in some way -support their parents who might not want to be the ones to go and do that learning. To have those conversations with those children from when they were little to say this, this can be  one of your one of your safety people. But I understood that. Probably because of my knowing you and our conversations that going in actually getting some education was the best thing starting point. So that it didn’t have to be scary for me, I didn’t  have to shy away from it, didn’t have to not know how to say certain things or just don’t say them at all. That’s going to cause more harm, potentially to the youngsters across our world than an adult maybe having some discomfort doing a course, like what you offer.


Holly-ann Martin  38:21

And you know, predators prey on vulnerable children and available children. These happens to good kids, because what do we teach kids? respect elders, do as your grown ups tell you to do. The last thing a parent when they leave their child with the babysitter – do as the babysitter tells you. Do you know what –  don’t if they want to touch your private parts.  We can give them that message. It doesn’t have to be scary. And when I do parent work, face to face parent workshops, parents are always that what about this, what about this and you’re coming at it with your 20, 30, 40 years life experience – six year olds don’t think like that. And so the program that we teach is giving them a really clear foundation. You know, we talk about safe and unsafe touches and consent from you know, from this big you know, from a baby, helping them to recognize the body signals you get when you feel unsafe. In our program, we call them early warning signs. I bet all the listeners have had somebody stand next to them in the crowd, and they go urghh.


Shannon Dunn  39:23

You just don’t feel okay, do you?


Holly-ann Martin  39:27

So as adults, we would call it gut feeling, intuition, sixth sense. But with children, they understand early warning signs. So we talk about how animals show their early warning signs and snails and turtles go into their shell and that squids squirting, and we don’t have these in Australia, fortunately, but every kid knows that a skunk squirts out stinky farty smelly stuff. So it’s about helping children recognize those body signals and then if you feel unsafe, who to go and talk to so it’s a very clear foundation, but it also goes into the cyber world. So one of the songs I wrote in a remote community was about grooming, and the early warning signs we called red flags. So if you you get that urgh – Why are they asking me where I live? They don’t need to know that when I’m playing a game, or why are they asking me to get off of this game and go on to WhatsApp or onto Telegram? That’s creepy. That’s not right. And so


Shannon Dunn  40:23

Teach them to trust those feelings. 


Holly-ann Martin  40:27



Shannon Dunn  40:29

So much we could talk about, but we don’t actually have all day. I will, I’m going to ask you in a little while, but a couple of questions before then, about how people can connect with you. So at that point, in time, I know you shared a lot of links and resources with us,  my team and I so that we will make sure as we always do that there on the show notes, I want no listener to ever go, I couldn’t find that person that you were talking to that I got so much value out of that conversation. So that we will get to that in a moment. Right now, I’d love to ask you the two questions that I’ve been asking everyone. And I guess that we’ve had on the on the podcast, to bring us back into her leadership and thriving again, in the time you’ve known me and we’ve known each other, you know I talk a lot about thriving anyway. So that probably is no surprise to you that I was gonna ask about that. But the first question, what role does leadership play in your life in your business, like the work that you do?


Holly-ann Martin  41:24

 I like to think that  – you know how shy I am, if we were at a cocktail party, I’d be the person hiding in the toilet. 


Shannon Dunn  41:31

You’d shapeshift into the background somewhere wouldn’t you.


Holly-ann Martin  41:37

But, you know, I want to be seen as a leader in this field. So, going live, going on camera, anything like that, frightens the dickens out of me. But I have a really strong mantra, and my mantra is, my message is bigger than me. To try and be a leader, I have to step up, I have to be the voice for children. So yeah, just trying to be that leader, I have to basically fake it till I make it.


Shannon Dunn  42:11

I think also somebody that’s coming to mind listening to you, a phrase I use relatively often is “practice what you teach”. And that doesn’t mean that you find it easy, comfortable, whatever. But you have a way you want to educate, like for you, children, and the adults in the world. So if you can’t do the things you’re asking them to do or consider, like, where’s the authenticity in that right, and I think a leader is someone who will go first, potentially, who will put themselves in those uncomfortable situations and say, Look, I feel terrible, or I feel overwhelmed, or I feel scared too. But let’s do it together kind of thing. Not saying, Look at me, I did it. So you can do it’s like, how, you know, it’s that inclusive calling in leadership has like, let’s all have a go.


Holly-ann Martin  43:02

Yeah, well, and in our program, we actually cover that in our program. So we do safety on a continuum. So we’ve got safe, fun to feel scared, unsafe, but the one that I do all the time is risking on purpose.


Shannon Dunn  43:15

Oh, that’s a cool phrase,


Holly-ann Martin  43:17

We risk on purpose to get better at things, to learn new things to. And then it’s got, you know, to feel safe, you need to have either a choice, some kind of control or a time limit on it. You don’t need all of them feel safe, but you at least need one of them. Yeah. So again, when I’m having to go online or something, you know, I know it’s not going to, you know, go forever and ever and ever. I’ve got 10 minutes, get it over and done with. So, again, that’s why our program is so inclusive, because it’s again, giving them the foundation. So if kids don’t want to try something, some sort of new food risk on purpose, they don’t want to put their head underwater when they go swimming. How you going to swim if you don’t risk on purpose? Yeah, nobody wants to have a needle or go to the dentist. So it’s exactly what you’re saying about you know, I try and practice what I preach with the children. And, yeah, its not always easy, but..


Shannon Dunn  44:15

No, no, but like, you know, what is life is it’s like the phrase, another phrase that you would have heard me use so many times “effortless”. And then I’m quick to say that doesn’t mean effort free. Right? It means that it talks about a time or space, a way that where things can be easier over time. That doesn’t mean you start immediately and it’s effortless. But there’s often a steep learning curve, a lot of discomfort, a lot of other things that get in the way, which is the effort full. Yeah, to get to the effortless or the effortlessness, or like I easeful was a new phrase that I’ve been using more so like, Yeah, let’s go let’s make things more easeful. Yeah, you know, always coming up with words, different ways to say things. So back to thriving though, Holly-ann, how do you know when you’re thriving?


Holly-ann Martin  45:07

When it is effortless to be honest. When it’s not too hard. I’m just in the moment with the children. You know, I’m not always treated well, because a lot of people there’s a lot of resistance to, you know, talking about this sort of stuff. But, you know, when I’m with the children, it is effortless, you know, we just have a good time the kids pick it up really quickly. And people say Holly, why does your program work? stories, songs and sign language. And so it’s not scary for children, they just get it. 


Shannon Dunn  45:45

You relate to children, because you speak  at their level, right, don’t you? Like, you know, I think that like when I’ve, I’ve watched you on videos, and I’ve heard you share stories with me about things that you have, the way you’ve taught things, and it’s always made me think of that. You’re not that tall, older adult person talking down, you’re at the level with the children. So there’s immediate relatability.


Holly-ann Martin  46:14

And you know, when you go back to communities, because I’m really blessed to go back, keep going back to the communities and stuff like that. And, you know, when you’ve got kids coming up, and, you know, can I give you a hug, it’s called consent, don’t you know, or  I wear, you know, earrings and things like that, you will have seen some of the crazy things that I do. I have dresses, and so the kids will look at what I’m wearing and go, Okay, today, we’re going to learn about this. And because you’re wearing that dress, we’re going to be doing the Wonder Woman or whatever it is. So, you know, when you get that feedback from the children, and, Miss Holly, last time you were here, you told us about the Kids Helpline, and I’ve rung it three times now. And you know, that’s what keeps you going.


Shannon Dunn  46:56

Yeah, definitely. Because it’s that knowing that even some little thing that you’ve shared, has been remembered, has been acted on or used to, you know, to support the kids. Yeah. Yeah, it gives me tingles.  That’s a good body feeling to feel about, right. It’s like that’s a positive reinforcement thing. I love it. So there are many places, as I said that we will make sure all of the links are available in the show notes, many places where people can connect with you and learn from you. What’s probably the couple of main places that would be easier for people to go and start kind of learning, connecting with you? Well,


Holly-ann Martin  47:35

Well on every platform, I’m Safe4Kids. So I’ve tried to keep it really simple. On LinkedIn, on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok – it’s all safe.


Holly-ann Martin  47:49

Yeah, you know, I


Holly-ann Martin  47:52

The only thing is the old Twitter, I was ProtectingKids. But apart from that, everything else Safe4Kids.


Shannon Dunn  48:04

So “safe”. And then the number 4 and then” kids”. Not had anyone listening to find that go and search and see what you can. And again, I think, if someone’s not sure where to start, that they’re intrigued to know more from you, whatever social media platform maybe that they’re on just out there. Because I know you’re very good at leveraging your content, where it’s not just goes all in one place. It goes across the different platforms, so it’s easier for people to find.


Holly-ann Martin  48:34

And I’ve got so much free stuff on YouTube, Safe4Kids, yeah. So it’s just, you know, I’ve got to educate teachers , I’ve got to educate parents, because a lot of people there’s pushback against the program, because they say that I’m putting the onus on children to keep themselves safe. And that’s totally not what I’m doing. Yeah, children are the last line of defense. It’s not up to a five year old to keep themselves safe, its our jobs as adults. But if we don’t educate the adults about you know, this program, then, you know, we can’t support children.


Shannon Dunn  49:12

Yeah, yeah, true. And I think, am I correct in saying that, if anyone’s interested to know more about the books you’ve written, which I know there are many now I’ve lost track of how many, that your website is the best place to go and explore what they are.


Holly-ann Martin  49:27

And you’ll find my parents online course there as well. Yeah, true.


Shannon Dunn  49:31

Awesome. So you also have got another resource that we’re going to make a link available for, which is your Strategies to Help Ensure your Child is Cybersafe”, which feels like we’ve talked a lot about some of the great things that could maybe be in that guide, but I know you and how thorough you are with your resources. So that feels like a great starting point for the parents. Or those like myself and you that have children in our lives, but we may not be a parent. 


Holly-ann Martin  49:42

Its just a two page just with dot points. And then the third page is a cyber agreement so that parents can sit down with their children and go through, they can sign it. And then the parents signs it. And they understand that it’s not just in our home, this cyber agreement, it’s whenever you’re online. 


Shannon Dunn  50:20

Yeah how important it is to extend it beyond a just in our space, in our home. Yeah, that was, okay, my lovely friend, as a final question for you. What’s one piece of wisdom that you’d like to share with our listeners today? So kind of leaning into your very extensive and very specific expertise for something that could really be useful for the, I tend to think of the those that are listening to She Leads She Thrives, they’re ambitious, want to make an impact, do kind of a good thing in the world. So I have a feeling that what we’ve talked about, your business stuff, but also what you teach, and everything around this support of children globally, is going to resonate with a lot of them. So what’s the final piece of wisdom you can share?


Holly-ann Martin  51:08

If you see something, say something, or share something. If you say something on my Facebook page, or wherever, it’s the stone in a pond, and it’s the ripples that can move out. The classic saying it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to keep children safe. And because the world now is so with the internet is, you know, every predator can come into a child’s bedroom. So for people to share this information, and that’s why I’ve got so much free stuff out there, because, you know, we need to protect children, we had the Maltreatment Study here in Australia, that found that 28.5% of Australia’s children will be sexually abused. That’s a third of children.


Shannon Dunn  51:57

and you just don’t even want to contemplate it. But that’s a reality that we can’t ignore. 


Holly-ann Martin  52:01

And so I don’t understand why our government isn’t, you know, funding programs like mine, or, you know, doing more in this space, because we’re putting money into suicide prevention and things like that. And, you know, the mental health of our children, we know how bad it is after Covid, and stuff like that. So it’s really important that if you see information, don’t just consume it yourself. Please share it. 


Shannon Dunn  52:29

As you said that the ripple effect, but that can start with just having one friends that you’re like, I’ve watched this thing, and it really got me thinking or we’ve had a conversation with our kids now because of something we listened to or read. Or even just telling one more person and saying to them, see if you can think of someone once you’ve consumed that information to download that resource, done the agreement with the family. See if there’s someone else that you can then tell that to rather than you maybe just doing it more so. So we just we start sharing, we don’t just keep it all to ourselves. So valuable, of course. 


Shannon Dunn  53:03

So thank you so much for joining me, for saying yes, and I’m glad we got a time where you weren’t in some remote community and I wasn’t gonna be able to talk to you. It all lined up beautifully. For now, I look forward to sharing this episode, like I do with all of our episodes, but it’s just something it’s a different conversation that we’ve just had for sure. 


Shannon Dunn  53:21

And listeners, if you have been interested in anything, Holly-ann has said, don’t just sit around and do nothing go with that last piece of wisdom. She said, Go and seek out a resource just start somewhere. And as I shared from my own personal experience, the children that are immediately in my life as as my relations are important to me, even though I’m their Auntie, I’m not their parent. So that’s why again, also think very much influenced by you Holly-ann. But go and educate yourself it actually doesn’t take much to know and to maybe become one of those five Incredibles, part of that safety team for a child in your life. So, so, so valuable. So thank you again, Holly-ann, and thank you listeners. I look forward to being back with another episode with you next week.

Thank you

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