Building Resilience and Belonging with First Nations Children and Young People

And image of a child standing in front of a sunset wearing a red cape

Keeping Children’s Spirits Strong: Building Resilience and Belonging with First Nations Children and Young People through Seasons for Growth is funded by the NSW Department of Education Student Wellbeing Innovation Fund. The project is a collaboration with MacKillop Family Services, and aims to enhance the cultural safety and relevance of Seasons for Growth and to capture the processes involved in adapting wellbeing programs for this purpose.

Schools now offer a wide range of approved programs and interventions aimed at supporting the wellbeing of children and young people. These include the Seasons for Growth suite of programs, offered by MacKillop Family Services, which provide knowledge and skills to understand and adapt to experiences of change, loss and grief. While such programs currently serve the needs of children and young people from a diverse range of backgrounds, very few incorporate resources explicitly aimed at enhancing cultural safety and learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people.

Informed culturally through Yarning Consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders, community members and other relevant stakeholders, along with a review of relevant, culturally informed evidence, this project seeks to:

  1. embed cultural knowledge and ways of knowing, being and doing within the existing Seasons for Growth learning framework;
  2. co-design resources that foster this cultural dimension of learning while strengthening cultural connection, honouring cultural wisdom, and supporting cultural identity;
  3. pilot the culturally enriched Seasons for Growth program in four NSW schools; and
  4. undertake a participatory evaluation of the co-design process, as well as the pilot outcomes, to inform further culturally grounded program refinements.

Consistent with the Australian Curriculum’s cross-curricular priority on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, this initiative is intended to enrich the cultural understandings of all young people in Seasons for Growth programs so they can participate positively in the evolving history of Australia and contribute towards individual healing and community reconciliation.

In late 2023, researchers at the Centre for Children and Young People conducted an evidence review to understand First Nations children’s experiences and ways of knowing, being and doing in relation to wellbeing, loss and grief. Concurrently, MacKillop Family Services have undertaken yarns and consultations led by Gamilaroi woman, Eliza Munro. The evidence review, cultural yarning and consultations will inform the co-design of program resources, to be piloted in 6 NSW schools in 2024 (3 primary, 3 secondary schools), as well as the CCYP’s approach to evaluation. In 2024, CCYP researchers will conduct an embedded, culturally appropriate, developmental evaluation of both process and outcomes.

Research team

Led by Professor Anne Graham, the project team includes Julia Truscott and Dr Meaghan Vosz.

Project contact: anne.graham@scu.edu.au

Project partners

MacKillop Family Services and Centre for Children and Young People, Southern Cross University