Edition 3: 24 September 2013

Coming up
Wise words
Strong bonds
Shooting the breeze
Stop the press
Letters from friends & family
Get involved

Editor's note
Welcome to the conference edition of The Branch, the e-newsletter of the Berry Street Childhood Institute.

This edition will focus on our upcoming
The Good Childhood Conference providing you with some exclusive insights into two key presentations. The conference will provide a unique opportunity for young people and adults to participate alongside each other in a conference aimed at building a shared understanding of a good childhood.

Our first article features some
Wise Words from Berry Street’s Director of the North West Region, Craig Cowie, about our newly developed Trauma Recovery Assessment Tool (TRAT) that is changing the way we assess young people coming into our care. Craig and Kathie Prior will be presenting on TRAT at our conference so be sure to catch their session.

One of our fabulous keynote speakers, Professor Marie Connolly (Chair & Head of Social Work, School of Health Sciences, The University of Melbourne and member of the Berry Street Board of Directors) gives us a little taste of her upcoming presentation: Childhoods, Rights, and Needs in 21st Century Australia in our
Strong Bonds section.

We will also be
Shooting the Breeze with Katrina Stone, the Berry Street Childhood Institute’s latest recruit. We will be chatting to her about the importance of involving young people in our conference.

In this edition we are very privileged to have our principal keynote speaker Baroness Susan Greenfield CBE(Professor of Pharmacology, Oxford University) author a letter to childhood in the
Letters from friends & family Baroness Greenfield reminisces about her own childhood and compares her experience to that of the modern child.

The Good Childhood Conference is less than three weeks away. The conference will be held at Moonee Valley Racecourse on October 10th & 11th.
Register for your place now!

We will be tweeting, blogging and providing facebook updates throughout the conference so if you are not already connected, don’t forget to follow and like us on
Twitter and check out our conference blog.

Warm wishes
Marg Hamley
Director Berry Street Childhood Institute

CREATE’s Inaugural National Conference - Strength > Strength
22nd – 24th November 2013

We are delighted to be a silver sponsor for CREATE's inaugural national conference. Strength to Strength will focus on improving the care system for children and young people through participation. We are pleased to announce that two of Berry Street’s Directors and Associates of the Berry Street Childhood Institute – Julian Pocock and Annette Jackson – will be presenting at the CREATE conference.

Trauma Recovery Assessment Tool – a systematic procedure - Craig Cowie

The Trauma Recovery Assessment Tool (TRAT) pilot is directly attributable to Berry Street independently funding an experienced Take Two Clinician to work across the Residential Care Program in the Northern Division, and our connection with Richard Rose.1 This therapeutic investment enabled us to think about how the Clinician would be best utilised given the position could not work with all the young people and staff in the program. We embarked on the development of the TRAT to ensure:
  • we could develop a greater understanding of ‘where the young person is at’ relative to a set of objective criteria;
  • Residential Carers and other Care Team members could work together collaboratively in thinking, planning, acting and reflecting for the young person;
  • we could develop a shared language that accurately describes the young person’s functioning;
  • the timetabling of therapeutic tasks aimed at realising broader case plan goals;
  • we could track a young person’s progress over time; and
  • we could readily provide quantifiable data for statistical analysis.

This tool has been unique in its development in that it has involved an entire Residential Care staff group in conjunction with Richard Rose. As a result, there is a strong sense of ownership and energy for the TRAT pilot as it gets to the heart of overcoming concerns the staff group consistently raise. That is, usually we are too reliant on reactive interventions, case plan goals are not easily translatable into tangible tasks, and much valuable observation and assessment information is not considered in a systematic way.

It is anticipated that the successful implementation of the TRAT Pilot will result in:
  • a systematic procedure for capturing individual observations of the young person’s presentation and,
  • the assignment of meaning to these observations relative to an objective set of questions under seven LAC compatible domains.

These domains represent the areas of development we hope to influence with good quality care and case practice during the time young people spend in our care. The seven domains represent what we want for all young people in our society ind include:
  • Safety
  • Resilience
  • Health and Well Being
  • Succeeding
  • Identity
  • Connectedness
  • Emotional Development

1 Richard Rose is an International Out of Home Care expert and fellow of the Berry Street Childhood Institute

Childhood, Rights, and Needs in 21st Century Australia - Marie Connolly

When the United Nations Convention on the Rights of theCchild was introduced it was a huge step forward – an historic milestone – that positioned the rights of children and young people at the centre of professional concern. Since then most countries have ratified UNCROC. There nevertheless remains a big gap between what the convention expects, and how countries support children’s rights in practice.

In my presentation at the Berry Street Conference, Childhood, Rights, and Needs in 21st Century Australia, I will be exploring why this is so.

Maybe it’s something to do with perceived clashes between parental and children’s rights – something that seems to generate comment when talking and thinking about the rights of children and young people. Maybe it is to do with the concept of ‘rights’ itself, and how we react to notions of rights in society. Over a number of years I have been interested in what agencies need to do to be rights-based in policy and practice.

During my presentation I will also be looking at what children and young people say about being listened to and having their views taken into account, and will be talking about some of the challenges of participation when there are a range of competing interests.

...with Katrina Stone

Katrina was born and raised in Melbourne and from the young age of 14 knew she wanted to contribute to a more just and equitable world. She successfully campaigned her way into a BA in International Community Development at Victoria University (the only 17 year old granted a place). She rounded out her education with a year in East Timor. In 2007, following time working in a community garden in Foster, Katrina decided she really wanted to work with young people and enrolled in a teacher training course to equip herself with the practical skill sets required to do so. Upon completing her graduate diploma in education, Katrina taught at Cowes Primary School in Phillip Island.

In 2009 an opportunity arose for Katrina to join Berry Street as part of the School Focused Youth Service, assisting schools to meet the needs of vulnerable young people. She then took on the Team Leader of education position and learned valuable lessons from the children and young people in Out of Home Care. Earlier this year Katrina joined the Berry Street Childhood Institute (as a maternity cover for Lauren Oliver).

What is the best thing about our inaugural The Good Childhood Conference?
The best thing, from my perspective, is that the conference is about driving conversations about our future and the fact that we are including young people in that conversation. Young people are dreamers and they are idealistic. They have a vision of what they want the world to be. They are just starting to really think about how they fit into this world. They are in a really great position to tell us about what they want the world to be like. It’s exciting, young people aren’t often asked their opinion and they’re not included in these conversations because we have ‘experts’ with 20 years experience taking part and the young people think they can’t compete.

Why do you feel it is important to have the voice of young people as an integral part of the BSCI conference?
I think that ‘we’ adults too often are just talking to each other, even when we are working with young people. Young people can’t just come into these conversations, we forget that. It has to be a purposeful thing. The more that we include young people in conversations like this, the more it will become integral to the way we work and that is really important.

What will young people gain through attending The Good Childhood Conference?
I hope they gain an understanding of their voice being important. It is an opportunity for them to meet other like-minded, engaged young people who share their passions. It is an opportunity to amplify their voice. I think it is a great starting point for young people who have perhaps never been to a conference and thought about how their voice can impact change.

What do you think others (i.e. adults) will gain by having young people integrally involved in the conference?
Some professionals often forget how individual every young person’s experience is. Too often their experiences are generalised. It is a great opportunity for them to remember that all young people aren’t the same and a one size solution does not fit all. I hope that it will motivate them to include young people in their work on a more regular basis.

What would a successful The Good Childhood Conference look like to you?
Seeing people engaged in conversation around the topics with an atmosphere that is open and welcoming. That we have people’s interest captured. I hope that our young people feel safe and included in the conversation, that their presence is celebrated.


We are delighted to be launching a new book “social work & domestic violence: developing critical & reflective practice” by Dr Lesley Laing & Professor Cathy Humphreys at The Good Childhood Conference.

Robyn Miller, Acting Director, Office of Professional Practice, Child Protection & Youth Justice at DHS will launch the book during the networking session at the end of day 1 of the conference (Thursday 10th October from 4.45 – 6.00 pm).

For details contact Berry Street Childhood Institute Events by telephone on (03) 9421 9362 or via


We know it can sometimes be a struggle to maintain your energy at the end of a full conference program, especially on a Friday afternoon. That’s why we’ve invited local performer, writer and producer Brian Nankervis to join us for the last session of The Good Childhood Conference. Brian is well known to Australian television audiences as co-host of SBS music trivia series ‘RocKwiz’ and as host of Channel 7’s ‘Pictures of You’. Going further back some of you will remember Brian from the Network Ten hospital soap opera ‘Let The Blood Run Free’ and his regular appearances on ‘Hey Hey It's Saturday’ as the tortured street poet Raymond J Bartholomeuz.

Brian will close the conference with a humorous and interactive exploration of a good childhood.

Dear Childhood,

I remember everyone telling me that it was the best time of my life. But it didn’t seem like it to me since I always had to ask my parents’ permission for pretty much everything, including leaving the table at dinner times once I had finished eating and the grown-ups were lingering over their coffee.

Then again, because we didn’t have much money I escaped the crowded timetable I see so often today in the offspring of my middle class friends where the hapless youngster is on a breathless schedule of self-improvement from sport, to music, to drama or extra academic cramming. Instead, I had to devise my own antidote to boredom, and I think in retrospect this was actually a good thing, that it’s good for a child to be bored and think up their own entertainment.

Being an only child until I was 13, most of my early years outside of school were spent making up stories whether with my dolls or with drawings and later in writing plays and stories and poems. Inevitably books were the great escape and the public library the magical Aladdin’s cave. I still remember the excitement of graduating from the junior library to the adult one, and seeing all the amazing topics that they offered even though I didn’t understand what economics or oceanography or philosophy were.

I know that makes me sound like the most creepy swot of all time, but really it was just about igniting an impressionable young mind not so much with facts but with ideas. How different now that boredom is readily obliterated by some second-hand game- or web-designer’s imagination and everything is literally in your face, with no time to think or to ask questions.

The British Minister for Education, Michael Gove, has recently ‘toughened up’ the primary school syllabus. He thinks it’s important nowadays that children should learn poems: I would say he’s missing the point: how much better if they are able to understand the poem.

Susan Greenfield

The Good Childhood Conference – register your place now!

It’s less than three weeks until our inaugural The Good Childhood Conference on October 10 & 11, 2013 at Moonee Valley Racecourse. Book your place now!

This multi-disciplinary conference will provide you with the opportunity to come together with sector leaders, practitioners, policy makers, researchers and young people to consider two critical questions:

  • what sustains a good childhood; and
  • how best to support those who have not experienced a good childhood.

The Berry Street Childhood Institute believes we have a role to play in leading change to ensure all children have a good childhood.

Berry Street was first established on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respect to their Elders, past and present, and to all the traditional custodians of land throughout Australia.