eNews August 2015

Welcome to the August edition of the Institute eNews

It is with some sadness that this is my last welcome to the Institute newsletter. As of the 24th of September I will be leaving Lighthouse. I started my journey as a psychologist with the organisation, and eight years on I am currently Executive Director of the Institute. I will be moving on to a new senior role with the Department of Health and Human Services, as Principal Practice Leader of Secure Services. It has been an amazing journey for me, and I have gained so much from working for this wonderful organisation. So this is a welcome and also a farewell from me.

In recent days, the Victorian Commissioner for Children and Young People, Bernie Geary, released his report titled ‘…as a good parent would…’. The report highlighted many of the inadequacies of the current out of home care system in Victoria, in particular residential care units. This was a courageous effort by the commissioner to shine a light on some major problems. We welcome many of the recommendations made in the report that align with the Lighthouse approach, and we believe that the out of home care system needs to move in this direction. This will be discussed further in this newsletter.

We will also look at the 2nd Journey to Recovery: The International Conference of Attachment and Trauma Informed Practice which was held at the iconic MCG earlier this year, as well as the completion of the Royal Commission Support Services training series, in which the Institute facilitated training in every state and territory in Australia. We are also excited to announce our latest knowledge partnerships with Ohio State University and the Association of Child Welfare Agencies in NSW. Also in this edition is an essay on trauma informed leadership, contributed by Patrick Tomlinson.

I would like to finish by acknowledging all the Lighthouse Institute and Foundation team members, supporters and knowledge partners that have supported me in my role over the years along with the growth of the Institute. It is farewell from me and I hope to stay connected with you all into the future as we continue our work in the sector.

Rudy Gonzalez
Executive Director

What’s on…

View our events calendar for upcoming training sessions and other events.


Royal Commission Training

Lighthouse Institute has now concluded delivery of the Lighthouse Professional Development Series of training, funded by the Department of Social Services to support practitioners working with survivors of trauma, who were affected by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The series was rolled out in every Australian State and Territory, with over 230 sessions attended by 2,939 participants. We exceeded our original goal of 176 sessions by over 30%.

Representatives from over 80 different organisations attended, including hospitals, churches, not for profit organisations, state and federal government departments, mental health services, and child protection. This reflects the wide range of intervention and access points that Lighthouse Institute was able to offer to people impacted by the Royal Commission process. We believe the high level of interest across such diverse areas reflects a critical mass in demand for training and research in the field.

This project has made an important contribution to a growing, interdisciplinary field. Many participants came away from training with new knowledge and strategies to enhance their practice with survivors of trauma. Over 90% of participants either agreed or strongly agreed with evaluative statements such as: ‘training was relevant to my needs’; ‘training will assist in better supporting people impacted by the Royal Commission’; and ‘content was well organised’.

“Some of the most affirming and inspiring training sessions I’ve attended in 31 years of social work. Thank you.”

“It’s great & helpful and very enlightening & inspiring. It should be done more often addressing different topics. I feel more empowered to care for others with trauma & myself after knowing all these.”

New Leadership at Lighthouse

After eight years with Lighthouse – as a psychologist, Clinical Care Manager, Director of Care Services and then the founding Executive Director of Lighthouse Institute – Rudy Gonzalez will be departing to take a senior role within the Department of Health and Human Services next month. He will be advising the Department’s reforms of Secure Services; including Secure Welfare Services, Youth Justice Custodial Services, Disability Forensic Assessment and Treatment Services, and Parkville School, in the role of Principal Practice Leader. In this new role he will be tasked with developing and implementing a trauma informed system across secure services.

Rudy has been instrumental in developing the Lighthouse Model of Care and is an expert in trauma informed practice and therapeutic systems of care. While we are unfortunate to lose him, we take great pride in the fact that he will now have the opportunity to influence systemic change that will result in better outcomes for vulnerable young people. Lighthouse CEO Kane Bowden said, ‘we will remain connected with Rudy into the future and I take this opportunity to thank him for his lasting contribution over so many years’.

We are fortunate to have found a worthy replacement for Rudy, and look forward to welcoming Ric Pawsey into the role. Ric is a highly respected clinical psychologist and health care leader. He is best known for establishing Berry Street’s Take Two program, the statewide government program that has incorporated mental health expertise into the child welfare sector. Ric will join us full time in January and in the meantime Clinical Services Manager Therese Raulin will act in the role.

Journey to Recovery Conference

Building on the success of the inaugural conference in 2013, we came together again in 2015 to explore how this work has progressed over the past 18 months, with a major focus on innovations and best practice across diverse disciplines.  We were joined by many experts in the field of attachment and trauma informed practice and also provided a platform for emerging thinkers in this area to examine what the current research is saying about trauma recovery, what is best practice at an international level, and how we can scale up innovation to reach more people? This year, there was a strong emphasis on the role of culture in attachment and trauma informed practice and also the examination of the unique contribution of consumer participation and lived experience in the further advancement of this work.

Over the course of two days, the Conference program comprised of 21 presentations highlighting innovation and best practice in attachment and trauma informed work in many contexts, with various populations and across a diverse range of settings. We also had an emotive and insightful presentation from a trauma survivor/Carer who discussed her experience of trauma; the critical elements of her recovery process and relevant interventions; and the unique role her lived experienced has played in being a Carer for other traumatised young people.

In total, 180 people attended the conference, with representation from practitioners, survivors, carers, primary health, community services, government, and academic sectors. We believe the high level of interest across such diverse areas reflects a critical mass in demand for training and research in the field, along with possibilities for cross-sectoral learning and engagement. Delegates attended from every State and Territory in Australia, in addition to those who attended from the United States, Brunei, Canada, India and New Zealand.

By providing a valuable opportunity for networking and learning, we believe the Journey to Recovery Conference has made an important contribution to a growing, interdisciplinary field. Many delegates came away from the Conference with new connections and networks; new ideas and strategies to enhance their practice; a renewed enthusiasm for their work; and a strong sense of a paradigm shift and growing community of practice in this vital work. We hope to continue to build on the momentum generated by the second instalment of the Journey to Recovery Conference. We look forward to continuing this international event, which aims to bring together community, government and academic sectors to reflect on what has been, what is possible and what is next, in the field of attachment and trauma informed practice.

New Knowledge Partnerships

We are excited to announce the Institute’s new knowledge partner, Ohio State University, College of Social Work. Earlier this year 20 social work students visited Lighthouse Institute to learn about the Lighthouse Model of Care and trauma informed practice. Due to the success of this visit, Lighthouse Institute and Ohio State have agreed to a knowledge exchange partnership, which will involve the sharing of knowledge and student exchanges over the coming years.

We have also developed an exciting new partnership with the Association of Child Welfare Agencies (ACWA) in NSW. This partnership means that Lighthouse Institute will provide training seminars, conferences and other events in NSW in partnership with ACWA and we have the following seminars scheduled in the coming months (click for more information and to register):

16–17 September: Guiding the Therapeutic Task: Trauma Informed Practice for Managers and Leaders (2 days)

13 October: Therapeutic Parenting: Developing Safe and Nurturing Carer-Child Relationships

CCYP Report

Lighthouse Institute welcomes the “…as a good parent would…” report by the Commissioner for Children and Young People, Bernie Geary. This report highlights many of the inadequacies of the current out of home care system in Victoria, in particular residential care units. Lighthouse has for many years advocated for reform in residential care, to ensure that children are cared for in a more humane way. Many recommendations made in the report align with the Lighthouse Model of Care, and we believe that out of home care needs to move in this direction. Some of the features of the Lighthouse Model that are reflected in the Commissioner’s recommendations include the use of professional carers who are well trained, specialised and resourced, clinical practitioners who support the homes or units, intensive training and supervision for all staff, and a shift away from casual labour and agency staff. We invite Minister Mikakos and the State Government to look at the successful approach we have developed at Lighthouse over 25 years, which has been proven to work and has a large social return on investment.

As the title of the report suggests, we need to treat children and young people in out of home care how we would want our own children cared for, if we could not do it ourselves. Who would want their child living in some of the homes described in the report? It is horrifying to read, and to see the state of the homes where children are living. We hope that the shock and distress this report has prompted will bring about action and change in the sector.

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Council to Homeless Persons Conference

The bi-annual CHP conference is one of Australia’s premier, dedicated homelessness and housing conferences. Rudy Gonzalez will be speaking about trauma informed practice at the conference on 17 September.

Reconnexion National Anxiety and Depression Conference

Brave New Worlds: innovations in clinical practice. Rudy Gonzalez will be speaking about psychosocial development and trauma informed practice on 14 October.

Berry Street Childhood Institute Conference

Being Trauma Informed: a residential conference. The term ‘trauma informed’ is being widely applied; do we understand what is meant? This is an opportunity to explore Being ‘Trauma Informed’ with practitioners and leaders with a focus on practice and organisational development. Rudy Gonzalez is participating in a panel discussion on 22 October.