Praxis International has developed and pioneered the use of the Safety Audit process as a problem-solving tool for communities that are interested in more effective intervention in violence against women. The Safety Audit is a tool used by interdisciplinary groups and community-based advocacy organizations to further their common goals of enhancing safety and ensuring accountability when intervening in cases involving violence against women. Its premise is that workers are institutionally organized to do their jobs in particular ways—they are guided to do jobs by the forms, policies, philosophy, and routine work practices of the institution in which they work. When these work practices routinely fail to adequately address the needs of people it is rarely because of the failure of individual practitioners. It is a problem with how their work is organized and coordinated. The Audit is designed to allow an inter agency team to discover how problems are produced in the structure of case processing and management.
Who conducts the Safety Audit?
The Safety Audit is an interdisciplinary self-assessment tool, so the work is conducted by a community team of violence against women experts and key workers who represent the systems that are being examined. Team members collect data and meet as a group to discuss the Audit findings; recommend changes in policy, procedure, and training; strategize how to implement the recommended changes; and help implement, monitor, and evaluate the changes over time.
In September 2002, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) selected Praxis to provide technical assistance on the use of Safety and Accountability Audits to any OVW grantee wanting to expand their knowledge of Safety Audit methods and to develop their capacity to conduct successful Audits. Under this technical assistance grant, Praxis provides a wide variety of resources and training opportunities to grantees conducting Audit projects.
Some communities subsequently contract with Praxis or our partner, the Battered Women’s Justice Project, as a consultant to their Audit project when the support they require exceeds the capacity of our technical assistance grant.
What happens during a Safety Audit?
The process involves examining whether institutional policies and practice enhance the safety of survivors, as well as enforce perpetrator accountability.
The Safety Audit does not assess individual effectiveness or actions. An Audit involves mapping the system, interviewing and observing workers, analyzing paperwork and other texts generated in the handling of cases involving violence against women. Recommendations coming out of an Audit process are directed toward institutional changes that will enhance victim safety and perpetrator accountability.
Find more information about the Audit methodology in thesection of this website.
How is the focus of a Safety Audit decided upon?
The Audit focuses on a question that the community wants to explore. All Audits are designed to look for how institutional responses centralize or marginalize attention to victim safety in case processing routines.
See the Resources section of this website for more sample Audit questions.
Who serves on the Safety Audit Team?
The Audit team typically consists of practitioners from agencies involved in the case processing under review.
See the Audit team job description in the Logistics Guide, Section 1: Getting Started.
What about confidentiality?
The Safety Audit involves local team members who have access to sensitive information and records.
See sample confidentiality agreements in the Logistics Guide, Section 1: Getting Started.
How long does it take to do a Safety Audit?
Audits do not happen overnight. The time required depends on the scope and focus of the Audit, the available resources, the availability of an Audit coordinator, decisions about how and when to collect data, and the ability of the team to spend some concentrated days on data collection.
What are the outcomes of a Safety Audit?
- Discovering gaps in safety and accountability within the case processing systems under review, i.e., answering the “Audit question.”
- Specific recommendations for system change that enable community partners to close the discovered gaps.
- New expertise in a process that can be used for ongoing community planning, evaluation, and problem-solving.
- New ways of community partners to work together.
See Reports from Completed Audits in the Resources section of this website.
Who can I contact for more information about a Safety Audit?
Contact Maren Woods, Program Manager, at (651) 699-8000 or