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Lead the way towards wellbeing

1 August 2019 at 7:44 am
MacKillop Family Services is hosting a two-day conference as part of its commitment to support children, young people and families to heal from adversity. 

Contributor | 1 August 2019 at 7:44 am


Lead the way towards wellbeing
1 August 2019 at 7:44 am

MacKillop Family Services is hosting a two-day conference as part of its commitment to support children, young people and families to heal from adversity. 

In March this year, in the aftermath of the devastating Christchurch mosque shooting, we all felt a collective sense of grief and loss. In the weeks following the tragedy, many parents expressed concern about the impact this may have on their children. They observed that something had shifted in terms of children viewing the world they live in being a safe place. “What can we say or do to protect our children from the stories they are hearing and the images they are seeing?” they asked.

There is a strong evidence base about the impact of grief, loss and trauma on children and young people, and this is not just confined to tragedies on a global scale. Trauma can come in many forms, from the death of a loved one, to family breakdown, or separation from your family. It is critically important for professionals working with children and young people to understand the impact of trauma, and to develop the skills to create a safe environment to support them to recover.

On 31 October and 1 November 2019, MacKillop Family Services is hosting a two-day conference – Lead the Way Towards Wellbeing – as part of its commitment to supporting children, young people and families to find ways to heal from adversity. 

Dr Robyn Miller, CEO of MacKillop Family Services, sees the long-term impact on children who have been affected by trauma – either directly or as witnesses to distressing events – nearly every day.

“Traumatic experiences in childhood can initiate strong emotions and physical changes that can persist long after the event,” she said. 

“The journey to recovery can be long and involves comprehensive, high-quality interventions, understanding and treatment services.

“In our work we employ holistic, trauma-informed programs such as Seasons for Growth, Sanctuary and ReLATE and this conference provides a forum to share outcomes and strategies from our experiences supporting the emotional wellbeing of children, young people and adults.”  

The conference will feature keynote presentations from seven experts who will discuss strategies that can be integrated into organisation and education wellbeing practice. These presentations will be complemented by interactive workshops to explore how to bring these strategies to life.

One of the keynote speakers – Allan Sparkes CV OAM VA – will share his experiences working as a frontline police officer for 20 years, including involvement in the horrific aftermath of the Hilton Bombing.

Rosie Batty headshotAllan will be joined by another speaker who knows only too well the impact of loss. Rosie Batty AO became the 2015 Australian of the Year in recognition of her work raising awareness about the impact of family violence on women and children. Rosie will discuss the impacts of family violence and the need to address the stigma of grief, as well as taking part in a panel session.

Other keynotes include Professor Anne Graham AO (director of the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University and author of Seasons for Growth, which has reached in excess of 300,000 children and young people and is delivered in seven countries across the globe); Brendan Murray (the former executive principal of Parkville College, a network of schools within Victoria’s youth justice system); Associate Professor Sandra Bloom MD (founder of the Sanctuary Model, which supports over 300 organisations around the world to create trauma-informed communities); and Associate Professor Judith Murray (who will draw on her research and her experience as a secondary school teacher, counselling psychologist and registered nurse to explore how the power of story can ensure we attend to the “whole” experience of children and young people with a lived experience of grief and trauma).

Conference participants will also hear from Isaiah Dawe, a Butchulla and Garawa saltwater Murri man, who entered the child protection system when he was two months old. Isaiah is currently the CEO / founder of ID. Know Yourself, the first Aboriginal mentoring company to support Aboriginal young people in out-of-home care in New South Wales. He will share his experience of growing up in care. 

Fiona McCallum, general manager of Good Grief – a MacKillop program that delivers Seasons for Growth globally – works daily with social welfare and health professionals and teachers who support children and young people impacted by significant loss and trauma.

“In most cases, participants in our programs are adjusting to significant life events that have triggered experiences of change, loss and grief,” she said.

“Our Lead the Way Towards Wellbeing conference is relevant for professionals who are eager to work for better wellbeing outcomes for the children, young people and families they support. The presentations and workshops will provide networking opportunities and valuable strategies and approaches appropriate for school personnel, allied health professionals and organisations.”

Lead the Way Towards Wellbeing takes place on Thursday 31 October and Friday 1 November 2019. It will be held at Waterview, Bicentennial Park, Sydney Olympic Park. 

Further information and registration details here.

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