Learning program supports better outcomes for Indigenous families

  • Training in Wiepa
    Training in Wiepa
  • Training on Thursday Island
    Training on Thursday Island
  • Connected parenting the big picture
  • Connected parenting the big picture

Photos: St John of God Health Care

St John of God Social Outreach and the Western Australia Child and Adolescent Health Services – Community Health have launched a free online resource for health professionals and workers supporting Indigenous families in Australia and around the world.

The gap between the health status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and that of other Australians has been well documented. Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are seven times as likely to receive child protection services as non-Indigenous children. Children from geographically remote areas are more likely to be in out-of-home care than those from major cities. As many as 25 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in care are referred to child protection agencies for problems related to parenting capacity.  

There is consensus among researchers and service providers that parenting programs that focus on early parenting specifically to improve parent-child interaction, and parenting practices more generally, are key to promoting wellbeing of children and preventing the development of health and social and emotional problems later in life.

In response to a recognised need, St John of God Social Outreach developed the Connected Parenting resources and training program. These incorporate elements of attachment theory and are based on knowledge and understanding of parent-infant attachment within Indigenous, cultural and historical contexts.

Developed in consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and educational professionals and researchers, the resources are endorsed by the relationship-based early intervention program Circle of Security (COS) developers.

The resources have been proven to be translatable for a number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities across Australia, including regional and remote communities.

Following the successful delivery and reception of Connected Parenting training to 203 Aboriginal Health Workers and other professionals in regional, remote and metropolitan Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, St John of God Social Outreach received funding from the Western Australian Mental Health Commission to develop the online package.

To promote sustainability and accessibility the face-to-face training was translated into an interactive online learning program for use and co-ownership between St John of God Social Outreach and WA Child and Adolescent Health Services – Community Health.

Launched in February 2019, the free online resource is designed to support health workers and professionals to undertake early intervention and promote secure parent and infant/child attachment and children’s social and emotional development.

To date, 254 health, education and child protection professionals have accessed the online training program. Online learning is particularly relevant for staff working in rural and remote areas where face-to-face training is often financially prohibitive. Approximately 26 per cent of participants have been located in regional or remote locations.  

Evaluation and feedback has been positive:
“The program is available to people in the community who are unable to afford to go to training or sessions, the visual elements I found consolidate the learning.” (WA Country Health Senior Registered Nurse)

“It was easy to watch - not too long so this will be good for using in our programs with parents. I think parents will take it on board and then offer peer support to other parents who need support.” (Community Services Program Manager)

CEO Social Outreach Sue Cantwell agreed: “All children should have the opportunity to reach their full potential and this resource has the ability to have a positive impact on the lives of children across Australia and potentially the world.”

To access the resource or for further information visit sjog.org.au/connectedparenting


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