On the 29th to 31st March 2019, SCS held its annual staff conference on the beautiful Sunshine Coast in Queensland. The theme of the weekend was Celebrating Diversity, with a focus on educating and upskilling staff to assess, train and support carers and children with a variety of backgrounds, cultures and identities.

Having our own local Gubbi Gubbi practitioner, Stacey Douglas of Apple Tree Consultancy, welcome us to her community helped set the tone for the conference, with staff humbled and appreciative of Stacey’s moving Welcome to Country. She assisted us to work through some of the sensitivities and intricacies of understanding Cultural vs Emotional Harm, with the team eager to learn how to be more culturally sensitive and appropriate in all the work we do with children and families. Thank you, Stacey!

Another highlight for the team was our diversity panel, made up of a practitioner, a foster carer and a young man who has aged out of the OOHC system, all of whom celebrate gender diversity. Their very personal stories really touched us; firstly in how vulnerable and open they were willing to be with us but also in how many extra, unacceptable, heart-breaking hurdles they had to experience and overcome in their jobs, roles or childhood journeys simply because they identify as LGBTIQA+. Their stories will help educate and motivate the team to ‘dig deeper’ in our work with carers to ensure carers supporting traumatised children and young people are flexible, respectful and open in their beliefs and interactions so as not to add further trauma to these children’s experiences. Thank you to our wonderful panel for their incredible strength and inspiration.

A further session involved a facilitated group supervision regarding working with carers and applicants who present with or have experienced mental health. A huge thanks to Matt Strickland of Kids and Teens Psychology who led this session for us.

What an incredible conference. Where to next year??? This year will be hard to top.