Emerging Minds

Healing through voice, culture and Country

About the course

This foundation course provides a framework for practitioners working in health, education, and social and community services, whose work includes engaging with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. The course aims to help practitioners to work with parents where family and domestic violence (FDV) is a concern, supporting children’s social and emotional wellbeing in culturally responsive ways.

The course consists of a 53-minute documentary and a short reflection, and is part of a larger series of resources to support practitioners working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families experiencing FDV. After watching this film, we encourage you to take some time to reflect and consider the aspects that stood out for you, and the components that you have not factored into your practice.

The preferred terminology used by Emerging Minds in our resources is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, as guided by our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social and Emotional Wellbeing National Consultancy Group.

Who is this course for?

This foundation course is for practitioners working in mainstream health, education, and social and community services, whose work includes responding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families where FDV is impacting on children’s social and emotional wellbeing. This includes those working within the family violence sector, as well as peripheral/related sectors.

Learning aims

  • Understanding that strategies to end violence will not work if they are imposed on a community; therefore any intervention must be community led, community developed and community driven.
  • Identifying that taking an intersectional approach to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing FDV is essential; recognising that gender, colonisation, culture, racism and class are intersecting factors that result in experiences of entrenched gender inequality for First Nations communities.
  • Understanding that whilst each community is unique, with its own norms, practices and healing strategies, practitioners need to engage locally based cultural specialists and organisations for guidance and direction in their work with families experiencing FDV.
  • Acknowledging that, when working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families experiencing violence, the need for self-determination and collective models of healing is paramount.


As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the self-care tips below and seek help if needed:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course, and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


Essential strategies for self-care include:

  • being prepared – thinking through the ‘what-ifs’ step by step
  • understanding your personal signs of being overwhelmed
  • setting prompts that will notify you when you need to pull back
  • pre-determining how you will pull back, and how you will know that you will be OK to re-engage
  • linking into peer supports
  • engaging in, and pre-scheduling, regular stress-reduction activities; and
  • seeking opportunities to reflect on your experiences with your colleagues.

You can begin the process of self-care as you work through the course by being aware of your emotional responses. Please seek help if needed.


For the purposes of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological or adoptive parents of a child, as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is a facet of child development.1

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept that is founded in a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.2

Social and emotional wellbeing is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.

Social and emotional development involves the development of skills that are required to:

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional state of other people
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy; and
  • establish and maintain relationships.3


All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander resources developed by Emerging Minds aim to ‘decentre’ the expert. With this fundamental value in mind, and with guidance from our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Consultancy Group, this course will not provide you with a certificate. The reasoning behind this is:

  • Cultural competency trainings should be provided by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and organisations.
  • Emerging Minds does not endorse this resource being used to meet cultural training requirements.
  • Engaging with, and valuing, local knowledge and connections is the core principle for any work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and therefore takes precedence over a centralised training course.


  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: Development of a children’s headline indicator (Cat. no. PHE 158). Canberra: AIHW. Available here.
  2. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing 2017–2023 (p. 6). Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Available here.
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009 (Cat. no. PHE 112). Canberra: AIHW. Available here.

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