About the project

Purpose, benefits, concept and six project streams

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of knowing, being and doing have fostered physical, social, and emotional wellbeing for millennia. However, the ongoing impacts of colonisation, violence and discrimination have led to and reinforce harmful, compounding cycles of intergenerational trauma.

In a national survey of primary maternity care providers, 98% reported that trauma is having a significant impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents.

Yet almost half (43%) were not satisfied with the ability of their service to address this. Currently, there is no applied evidence for how to safely and effectively identify and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex trauma. Any program in this space must ensure its benefits outweigh harms.

This project, in accordance with key recommendations from numerous national and international priorities, aims to address this critical health system need. It will deliver infrastructure for a shift in health policy and practice.

Through this, it will help to improve the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and their babies in the formative first 2000 days.

Working in two worlds

This project is grounded in the idea of a Birthing Tree, and recreating the safe and sacred spaces used by Aboriginal women for millenia. One of the ways we have done this is by aligning the six project streams with a part of the birthing tree.

While seemingly separate, the six streams come together to recreate safe and sacred birthing practices.

Clean air, win, sun and rain

Informed by rigorous research and practice evidence, including

  • Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future and Birthing on Noongar Boodjar, Baggarrook
  • Redesigning maternal, newborn and child health services for the best start in life for First Nations families NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence

Rich earth/Country

Grounded in and drawing from Indigenous knowledges and worldviews

Six project streams

Fresh leaves and new growth

1. Resource repository for parents, service providers and decision-makers

New and existing resources will be developed and collated for -

  • mothers, fathers and communities, including story-telling and plain language resources
  • workers, service organisations and decision-makers

2. Structured evidence-based support framework

A support framework will be developed to identify support availability and gaps, including support for parents with complex needs.

3. Culturally safe assessment

Culturally safe assessment will be developing integrating the accessible ‘Baby Coming You Ready?’ program with the Aboriginal Complex Trauma and Strengths Questionnaire and parenting self-efficacy

Supportive branches

4. Workforce development resources to build capacity for safe skilful care

Developing and implementing the following

  • Flexible online and face-to-face training  with Healing Foundation, Emerging Minds, BCYR/COPE
  • Mentoring  with We Al-li Pty Ltd, CATSINAM
  • Sensitive enquiry for assessment

Sturdy trunk

5. Culturally-safe trauma-integrated continuity-of-carer implementation support

Structured protocols and core outcome sets for implementation and evaluation for continuity of carer.

Strong roots

6. Supporting Aboriginal Families to Stay Together from the START (SAFeST START)

Advocacy under the SNAICC Family Matters program to prevent removal of children and building workforce expertise to support parents experiencing violence, substance use or other social and emotionally complex situations, including a 'wise counsel’ model of care.