art work Ab lge long website

Artwork ©Jeremy Worral, 2016

Walking together: Crreative ways of working with Aboriginal young people, families and communities

Full details are below. NB there are no current dates arranged for this workshop but if you would like to be placed on a mailing list to receive information about upcoming workshops when confirmed please join our mailing list Subscribe here

or send us an e-mail:

A two-day experiential workshop providing an opportunity to experience for yourself creative techniques for working with Aboriginal young people, families and communities, including art, clay work and Aboriginal weaving techniques.

Build your skills in promoting social, emotional and psychological wellbeing in

Aboriginal young people, their families and communities in the following areas:

  • Building engagement and offering accessible services
  • Assessment  and treatment
  • Developing sustainable therapeutic.
Target audience

This course is designed for non-Aboriginal clinicians, including psychologists, clinical psychologists, social workers, nurses, psychiatrists, GPs, occupational therapists and other staff working in education, health, youth justice, child protection and other contexts. Aboriginal workers are, of course, also welcome to attend. Counsellors, caseworkers, youth workers and other staff who do not have a clinical background will also benefit from this workshop. Although some of the clinical content regarding mental health assessment and treatment may not be directly relevant to your role, it should provide useful background information.


Aboriginal young people experience significantly elevated rates of indicators of distress compared to non-Aboriginal young people, including suicide attempts and completed suicides, incarceration, academic underachievement, placement in out-of-home care, family violence and homelessness. Due to historical and other factors, Aboriginal young people and their families often avoid seeking help from mainstream services. Additionally, many non-Aboriginal clinicians report a lack of confidence in applying their skills to working with Aboriginal young people (Hillin et al, 2007). Thus, young Australians perhaps most at risk of adverse outcomes experience a near perfect storm of risk, service under-utilisation and inequity. Despite this adversity, effective engagement and culturally appropriate and respectful therapy positively impacts on Aboriginal young people’s lives. With increased cultural competency, non-Aboriginal clinicians can utilise their existing clinical expertise in working effectively with Aboriginal young people.

In accordance with consultations with a wide range of Aboriginal stakeholders, the workshop acknowledges the impact of history, genocide, colonisation and racism on present day young people, families and communities.

Learning objectives

The workshop will provide opportunities for you to review and develop your knowledge and skills in:

  • Implementing key principles in providing assessment and management that is engaging and culturally appropriate for Aboriginal young people, their families and communities
  • Assessing cultural and spiritual factors along with biological, psychological and social dimensions and integrating these into a holistic formulation that is meaningful for the young person and their family and that provides an appropriate direction for therapy
  • Using a range of creative techniques, including drawing, clay work and Aboriginal weaving, to engage Aboriginal young people and to assess and promote their social, emotional and psychological well-being
  • Developing sustainable therapeutic programs
  • Assessing your cultural competence and identifying achievable next steps for developing this competence
  • Advocacy strategies to assist schools, health and other services to recognise and appropriately address the needs of Aboriginal young people
  • Recognising and appropriately accessing the skills and knowledge of Aboriginal co-workers and community members.
 Learning methods

The workshop will use a range of learning methods including experiential learning, skill demonstrations, didactic presentation, small group activities and case discussion. The workshop provides opportunities for you to experience practical and creative ways of working with Aboriginal young people, including art and Aboriginal weaving, and provides video examples taken from healing circle work with Aboriginal women. No prior experience in using these creative ways of working is required.

The Presenters 

Anthony and Vanessa met in 2000 and have collaborated on a number of programs, including developing and co-delivering the NSW Aboriginal Grief & Loss Training Program.

Vanessa Edwige (Psychologist, M Ed Counselling Psychology) is a registered psychologist and has worked as a school counsellor in Sydney for 15 years. Before this, she was seconded to two programs with the Attorney General of NSW, with Aboriginal Victims of Crime, and with the Aboriginal Child Sexual Assault taskforce as Senior Researcher. She was also a senior researcher on the report ‘Breaking the Silence: Creating the Future’, addressing child sexual assault in Aboriginal communities in NSW. Vanessa has also worked as a psychologist at a Youth Service in Redfern NSW since 2009, which involves working with Aboriginal young people, women and communities.

Anthony Hillin (B Soc Stud, M Adol MH) has over 25 years’ experience as a clinician, educator, writer, consultant and service manager in child, adolescent and adult mental, emotional and social wellbeing. While based at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry and Centre for Mental Health for 14 years, Anthony co-developed and delivered Australia’s most comprehensive interagency training program in adolescent mental health for the NSW School-Link and Queensland Ed-LinQ initiatives.

Anthony has delivered courses in depression, anxiety and related disorders to over 3,000 mental health clinicians, school & TAFE psychologists, social workers and related staff. This work involved conducting one of the largest consultations undertaken with NSW Aboriginal communities regarding young people’s mental health and well-being and contributing to NSW Aboriginal Mental Health and Well-being policy development. Anthony’s work spans issues including Interpersonal Psychotherapy, grief & loss, mindfulness, experiential learning and team building.

Participant feedback

In written feedback from 60 participants attending one-day workshops:

  • 98% stated that the workshop will help them deliver a better service to their clients
  • 96% stated that they would recommend a colleague attend the training
  • 96% stated that they were satisfied with the workshop
  • 98% stated that the trainers’ delivery of the workshop was excellent or very good.

Great to hear about mental health from an Aboriginal perspective. I learnt a lot. I like the Aboriginal genogram and using the family timeline. Anthony and Vanessa are wonderful experienced clinicians and trainers.”

Lisa Clement, Social Worker, Child and Youth Mental Health Service, NBMLHD, Penrith, NSW

“Brilliant presenters! The insights into counselling and assessment of Aboriginal students is most useful. I really liked the presenters role-play. I learned a lot from this and from the discussion around it.”

Kerry Herger, Senior Psychologist, Department of Education, NSW


This excellent course was great at provoking reflection on my practice. Anthony and Vanessa did a fantastic job of addressing this vast topic.”

Jackie Manners, Clinical Psychologist, Child and Youth Mental Health Service, NBMLHD, Penrith, NSW

The practical aspect of the presentation was excellent. This makes it very much more relevant to everyday practice. I highly recommend this workshop.”

Carol McGregor, Senior Psychologist, Department of Education, NSW


This workshop was excellent at meeting my needs. I would definitely recommend it to others.”

Janice Hughes, Psychologist, Department of Education, NSW


If you would like to be placed on a mailing list to receive information about upcoming workshops please join our mailing list Subscribe here

or send us an e-mail: