Relationships Matter: Walking alongside Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Parents

Content type
Event date

29 May 2024, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (AEST)


Michelle Sweet, Kym Schellen, Judith Lovegrove, Dana Shen



About this webinar

This webinar was held on Wednesday, 29 May 2024. A captioned recording and full transcript will be available in the next 2 weeks.

Storytelling is at the heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. For tens of thousands of years, the practice has sustained communities, nurtured relationships and highlighted the interconnectedness of child, family and community. Although Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and caregivers have many stories of resilience, in a practice setting the space to share and reflect on these stories doesn’t always exist. The ability to create this space is crucial to working with these families.

As practitioners, it is important to build connection with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families you work with and acknowledge the importance of the connection they already have with their child, their family and their community. Connection is key to creating a space where these families can share their stories. By building connection, and creating this space, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents could explore the values and beliefs they hold about their parenting and child rearing practices and understand the impact intergenerational and complex trauma have had on their lives. Through their stories, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents will be more able to reflect on their strengths, acknowledge their resilience and identify their hopes for their children’s future.

This webinar, held during National Reconciliation Week (27 May to 3 June), will discuss ways to work collaboratively with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families to build trust and genuine connection.

This webinar will help you:

  • develop a whole of community approach in your work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families 
  • develop a curious and non-stigmatising approach that allows families to identify their stressors and worries, including any experiences of trauma, loss and racism
  • support families to identify motivators, including strengths, skills, connections, hopes and dreams 
  • understand how to take a child-centred approach by placing the child’s voice front and centre in conversations with family and community members.

This webinar will interest non-Aboriginal practitioners who work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and children, including those who work in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled or mainstream services, or private practice.

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


Michelle Sweet

Michelle has worked for over 20 years predominately alongside Aboriginal controlled organisations and research Institutions in the Northern Territory. In the past 10 years this has expanded Nationally in a variety of roles as a Researcher, Consultant and Manager. Her passions lie with advocating, exploring and developing innovative strategies to improve wellbeing.

Kym Schellen

Kym Schellen Is a psychologist, who has been working in the Aboriginal community for over 25 years. Kym worked at Nunkuwarrin Yunti for 13 years as a Stolen Generations Counsellor which informed his practice immensely. The last 10 years Kym as been contracted by Rural Doctors to support rural communities that have few resources, these include the Riverland, Murray lands, Raukkan and Meningie. Kym works from a trauma informed narrative approach. Kym is particularly interested in neuroscience and how people who have experienced Trauma respond both physically and mentally.

Judith Lovegrove

Judith Lovegrove is a Ngarrindjeri woman with cultural connections across South Australia with Wirangu, Kaurna and Narungga nations. She is currently the Indigenous Governance and Engagement Lead for Menzies School of Health Research – Mental Health ‘Stay Strong’ team. Judith has extensive experience working with children, young people and adults in different capacities including therapeutic counselling and intensive family-based support with a focus on child protection, family preservation and early intervention. She has held several roles in both government (Department for Education, Department for the Premier and Cabinet, Department for Child Protection, and Department for Health and Wellbeing) and non-government organisations (as Registered Training Organisation Manager, Counsellor, Program Manager). Judith has contributed to many national, state, and local initiatives that work towards closing the gap empowering Aboriginal people and voices, with an emphasis of improving culturally responsive service delivery for organisations and departments. Judith holds qualifications in psychology and is a media spokesperson for the Centre of Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention.


Dana Shen | Aboriginal/Chinese and a descendant of the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia and has a passion for working with Aboriginal people and communities.

Dana is Aboriginal/Chinese and a descendant of the Ngarrindjeri people in South Australia and has a passion for working with Aboriginal people and communities. Dana has over 20 years’ experience working across the public and not for profit sectors in the areas of health, families and child protection. She commenced her career as a Youth Community Development Officer in both the Adelaide Hills and the Murray Lands. In this role she worked with young people, many of whom were at risk, to create better environments for young people in their communities. Dana went on to work in a number of senior roles with the SA public sector in which she had responsibility for program management, service delivery, policy development and strategic planning and worked with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) where she held the role of Principal, Social Services, Systems & Aboriginal Policy and Director of the Family by Family program. Dana’s current work includes supporting organisations to plan for the future and elevating the voices of lived experience to make service and systemic change.