Translating theory into practice

This blog post is written by Marina Dickson,
Executive Manager of Professional Education Services
at The Australian Childhood Foundation.


For the past 30 years, ACF has been combining direct therapeutic practice for children and young people with the delivery of high-quality trauma-informed professional development opportunities building on the sector’s capacity.  The ongoing integration of trauma-theory translation and practice application in our training events is something we remain both proud of and committed to.

As 2018 comes to a close, and 2019 looms large, we have reinvigorated our commitment to capacity building through knowledge translation and the sharing of innovative practice by completely reconfiguring our training calendar suite of offerings.  We hope that you can find something that appeals to you and addresses your own professional development needs.

The calendar is underpinned by our 2-day foundation learning program – Understanding the neurobiology of complex trauma.  This session draws together current research and practically focused intervention into a multiply contextualised learning program.  What does polyvagal theory really tell us? How do I remain truly child-centred? How can I strengthen my own trauma-informed practice? These are just some of the questions you will find answers to in this session.

The work of ACF is national and varied and we work with children and young people who have experienced abuse, violence, trauma and significant disadvantage in multiple contexts and in innovative ways.  This experience comes straight out of our work and into the training environment in this new range of workshops.

You will find new workshops and seminars that will enhance your practice in youth justice, in schools, in family violence services, and in early childhood settings.  To aid in the innovation of practice, we are offering sessions in applying polyvagal theory to work with children and young people and understanding and responding to problem sexual behaviours; exploring their connection to the expanding pornography culture.  In addition, our new session specifically focused on body-based interventions is the result of our ongoing efforts to grapple with the limitations of talk-based therapies.

And in 2019 we are very excited to be offering a hands-on workshop showcasing the use of our wonderful range of therapeutic dolls – based on the characters on our ‘Big Tree’ app.  This workshop will not only give you ways to use these dolls in your practice, but you will also leave the session with one of the dolls in hand as well as our comprehensive manual for enhancing their use.  Places in these sessions will be limited to 30 per session to enable maximum practice focused discussions and explore effective strategy applications in depth.  More information about this innovative initiative will be sent out in the coming weeks.

We also continue to be dedicated to ensuring children and young people’s voices are heard in the services with which they engage.  We have been working on a child-focused children’s feedback tool that organisations can use to hear a child’s perspective of the service in a meaningful way.  Later in 2019, we are offering a workshop that outlines the use of this tool and supports participants to consider their own evaluative processes and tools.

We are very aware that trauma-focused practice has to include those in each child’s world and we are offering sessions to support some of those groups.  The perennially popular Bringing up great kids program continues to be offered nationally and enables participants to facilitate their own parent groups focusing on the experience of the parent-child relationship.  We are also responding to requests for learning around trauma-informed supervision and leadership.  This workshop reflects the clear understanding that their work can be challenging for us all and being supported in our practice is critical.

All of ACF’s training is facilitated by our experienced staff who will invariably bring yesterday or last week’s case examples into the training environment today.  We will also ask you to share your practice wisdom as well.

Our sessions generally start at 9.30am, giving professionals a little bit of time out in the hectic schedule we all carry.  We always provide catering as well for a little bit of nurturing of the body as well as the mind.  These are deliberate choices we make to put our words into action.

As an organisation, we are genuinely excited about translating knowledge and sharing practice with you. We look forward to welcoming you to a session that meets your professional development goals soon.  By attending one of our new training calendar sessions you also support our work with children, young people, their families and their support networks across Australia.