Strengthening relationships and connections

Strengthening connections and relationships project logo: Heart Space: created by Gumbaynggirr and Yaegl artist Talah Laurie
Heart Space by Digital Creator Talah Laurie “represents togetherness, the courage it takes to journey forward and strength from the people who make our journey a little bit easier” @gumbaynggirr_graphics

Strengthening relationships and connections for young people in therapeutic residential care

Young people in residential care face major challenges that can prevent them from forming healthy relationships and a strong personal identity, which are critical building blocks for their wellbeing and safety. For the first time in a large-scale mixed-methods study, we are listening to young people living in therapeutic residential care, staff and managers across NSW about current practice and how it can be improved.

This project aims to understand the practices that help young people living in therapeutic residential care to form strong, healthy relationships and have a positive self-identity.




Research Design

The research design includes policy and document Analysis, Qualitative and Quantitative data collection and knowledge exchange

Research Team

The study is being undertaken by an expert team led by Associate Professor Lynne McPherson working with Professor Anne Graham, A/Prof Kathomi Gatwiri, Dr Antonia Canosa and Dr Kylie Day at the Centre for Children and Young People (SCU). They are joined by leading international researchers Associate Professor Tim Moore (ACU), Dr Donnah Anderson (Charles Sturt University), Professor Robbie Gilligan (Trinity College, IRL), Dr Joe Tucci & Adjunct Associate Professor Janise Mitchell (Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care) and Professor Stuart Barlo (Gnibi College, SCU).

Our project was co-designed with a group of young people with lived experience of life in the residential care system and guided by an adult advisory group comprised of international academics, policy actors, providers of intensive therapeutic care in NSW and cultural advisors.

Research Partners

The project is funded by the Australian Research Council (LP210100177) and the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care (CETC), a division of the Australian Childhood Foundation. Our collaborating partners include the Australian Catholic University, Charles Sturt University and Trinity College in Dublin.


Project outputs to date

Strengthening Relationships and Connections in Therapeutic Residential Care – Phase 1 Policy Analysis Summary


PhD candidate

PhD candidate Kelly Hand has been selected to receive the project’s embedded research scholarship, and is supervised by Associate Professors Lynne McPherson and Kathomi Gatwiri. Her thesis is titled: ‘How young people living in therapeutic care participate in decision-making about engagement with their family’.