Supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through a collaborative community approach

Supporting the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children through a collaborative community approach

Bill Wilson, Dana Shen and Ruth Tulloch

This webinar discussed how service organisations can work with Aboriginal communities to increase accessibility for First Nations families.

This webinar was held on Tuesday, 9 July 2019. 

A full recording of this webinar is available on our YouTube Channel.

The audio, transcript and presentation slides are available under Event Resources on this page.

A list of resources related to this topic is available on our post-webinar forum.

In Australia, there is a large gap between the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants, children and parents in mandated services (such as child protection) and these families’ use of voluntary community support services.

In this webinar, Bill and Dana discussed their extensive work with non-Aboriginal services and Aboriginal communities to find ways to address this gap. They have worked to increase trust through culturally competent practices that acknowledge the history of social, political and institutional marginalisation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Ruth discussed her experience as a non-Aboriginal manager working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a non-Aboriginal organisation.

The presenters explored the practical implementation of collaboration with Aboriginal communities and how this sits alongside traditional therapeutic approaches in non-Aboriginal services to deliver positive outcomes, particularly for infant and child mental health.

This webinar:

  • explored the challenges for non-Aboriginal organisations and practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, and how to meet these challenges
  • examined current research underlining the importance of cultural competence in non-Aboriginal services
  • gave examples of organisational and individual practice that have built trust and collaboration within Aboriginal communities and led to positive outcomes for these families
  • outlined what non-Aboriginal organisations should consider in the recruitment, supervision, training and attitudes of staff when developing a culturally intelligent and responsive workforce
  • gave examples of non-Aboriginal staff being genuinely curious about the stories and experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, communities, children and families.

This webinar was the fifth in a series focusing on children's mental health. It is co-produced by CFCA and Emerging Minds. They are working together as part of the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

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Featured image: © GettyImages/monkeybusinessimages

About the presenters

Bill Wilson

Bill is a Ngarrindjeri man, who has worked with Aboriginal children and young people for many years to improve social and emotional wellbeing outcomes. He is currently the CEO of the Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority and supports Emerging Minds as a cultural mentor. Bill has a strong passion and commitment for self-determination and supporting local Aboriginal organisations in his region. He also has experience working with Aboriginal children, parents and families as a senior practitioner of Aboriginal Community Connect, a residential and outreach treatment facility based in South Australia.

Dana Shen

Dana is Aboriginal/Chinese and a descendant of the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia. She has a passion for working with Aboriginal people and communities. Dana has extensive experience in the public sector – in health, child protection and Aboriginal-specific services and policy. Dana runs her own consultancy business, DS Consulting, and supports Emerging Minds as a cultural consultant and writer. 

Ruth Tulloch

Ruth is the manager of Aboriginal Community Connect, Uniting Communities. She has worked in the community services sector for over 20 years and has qualifications in alcohol and other drugs and community services management. Her career has often had a focus on working with CALD, refugee and asylum seeker client groups. She has been a manager in Aboriginal services during the last five years – addressing homelessness and social emotional wellbeing. She also lectures on culturally respectful and inclusive practices.