Supporting Children to Adapt to Change, Loss and Grief

Image by Stephen Michael King for Seasons for Growth®  © Good Grief Ltd.
Image by Stephen Michael King for Seasons for Growth® © Good Grief Ltd.

About this project

Considerable research undertaken through the Centre for Children and Young People has focused on understanding the ways in which adverse life experiences impact on wellbeing and how such knowledge can be translated into evidence-informed policy and co-designed interventions.

Led by Professor Anne Graham, in close collaboration with MacKillop Family Services, this ongoing research and knowledge exchange activity has resulted in a suite of psychosocial education programs (based on the very successful flagship program, Seasons for Growth®).

These evidence-informed programs focus on supporting children, young people and adults, in a range of contexts, to learn about how change and loss impact on their lives and to develop skills for attending to their grief. Multiple evaluations attest to the effectiveness of these interventions in supporting wellbeing and strengthening individual and community resilience.

book covers

The current suite of Seasons for Growth related programs includes:

  • Seasons for Growth® Children and Young People’s Program (3rd Edition)
  • Stormbirds: Growing Through Natural Disaster (for Children and Young People) (2nd Edition)
  • Seasons for Growth® Adult Program (2nd Edition)
  • Seasons for Healing (developed in collaboration with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities)
  • Seasons for Growth® Parent Program I: Supporting Your Child Following Separation and Divorce
  • Seasons for Growth® Parent Program II: Supporting Your Child Following the Death of Someone They Love
  • Seasons for Life: Suicide Postvention in Schools (Australian Department of Health and Aged Care)

The Research

Examples of our research informing ongoing program development and associated training materials include three ARC-funded studies:

Improving approaches to wellbeing in schools: What role does recognition play? (LP 110200656)

Improving wellbeing through participation at school’ LP 140100540)

‘Beyond safety: Ethical practice involving children’ (DP180100465)

‘Involving Children in Social Research: Balancing the Risks and the Benefits’ (DP150100864)

These studies, along with ongoing evidence reviews about children’s reactions to change and loss in contexts such as separation and divorce, bereavement, natural disasters, out-of-home care, forced migration, terrorism events and suicide prevention/postvention continue to inform new and existing program developments. These evidence reviews focus strongly on research that captures children’s perspectives on such issues. See examples Report 1 and Report 2.

A rapid review of evidence informed major revisions to the Stormbirds program in early 2020, along with associated resources for parents, teachers and program facilitators, in response to requests for support from bushfire affected communities across Australia.

In 2020 an evidence review was undertaken to inform the development of resources to guide parents and teachers in supporting children to adapt to the on-going changes associated with COVID-19 protection measures.

In 2021-2 this evidence informed the development of the Rockhoppers and Seasons Toolkit video resources now widely used in schools to promote social and emotional learning.

Impact and Engagement

The Seasons for Growth programs are widely implemented across Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland and Wales, in schools and community-based organisations, as well as in prisons. Numerous external evaluations attest to the positive benefits of the programs. There are now over 350,000 children, young people and adults who have participated in a Seasons for Growth program.

Read more about the reach and impact of the Seasons for Growth loss and grief education research. This research received a ‘High’ rating for impact in the Australian Research Council’s Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018-2019 National Report.

Such research impact has been made possible through a sustained collaborative partnership between the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University and MacKillop Family Services, who deliver the programs nationally and internationally.

In addition to undertaking related research and program development, Professor Graham supports the international network of Seasons for Growth trainers and develops on-going professional learning for trainers and program leaders (known as Companions) based around new research evidence.

For more information on the Seasons for Growth® programs please visit:

Program-Related Academic Publications

Graham, A., & Fitzgerald, R. (2011). Supporting Children’s Social and Emotional Wellbeing: Does Having a Say Matter? Children and Society, 25(6), 447-457. Link here.

Graham, A. (2004). Life is Like the Seasons: Responding to Change, Loss, and Grief through a Peer-Based Education Program. Childhood Education, 80(6), 317.

Project Partners