New online courses to transform lives of WA’s most traumatised children

Vulnerable children stand to gain from new online courses targeting abuse-related trauma.

A new series of online training courses focused on transforming the lives of children who have experienced child abuse and neglect will support Western Australian (WA) frontline practitioners to deliver world-leading responses to abuse-related trauma.

The Pursuit of Excellence in Responding to Child Abuse and Neglect WA, a leading initiative in partnership between the Australian Centre for Child Protection (ACCP), University of South Australia and Parkerville Children and Youth Care, and supported by Lotterywest, is focused on the development of new high quality therapeutic responses to child abuse and neglect, designed for the WA service context and client populations.

A major focus of the Pursuit of Excellence is supporting the development of the state’s workforce through providing high quality workforce development, including overcoming existing workforce development barriers.

The Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended service capacity in treating abuse-related trauma be increased, particularly for children. A recent survey of WA practitioners further highlights workforce confidence in providing therapeutic responses to children who have experienced trauma as a key priority.

“One of the most powerful ways to transform the lives of children affected by abuse and neglect is to support frontline practitioners to ensure they have the tools and information they need to effectively respond to children and their families,” says Professor Leah Bromfield, Co-Director of the ACCP and former Professorial Fellow to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse.

The new tertiary accredited online series of three Professional Certificate courses has been developed by specialist clinical trauma clinicians and research experts across key identified areas of need.

The first course provides foundational knowledge around child abuse, neglect and trauma, the second is focused on trauma specific assessment and responses, and the third supports the development of practitioner therapeutic skills in responding to childhood trauma.

Prof Bromfield says high quality affordable workforce development, offered through a tertiary certified interactive online teaching approach, will help overcome some of the key barriers and challenges facing WA frontline practitioners from accessing professional development.

“Participants will have the ability to engage and progress through the majority of the course materials at their convenience, overcoming the challenges of integrating learning with work commitments. The state- of-the-art Learn Online platform will provide a high quality learning experience for practitioners regardless of where they live,” Prof Bromfield says.

“The approach is designed to enhance the skills of the existing workforce and integrates work-based learning as well as a virtual community of practice in which practitioners can discuss and trouble shoot the real world application of their learning with peers, facilitated and supported by experienced trauma clinicians.”

Through the support of Lotterywest, an initial 60 scholarships are being provided for an Inaugural cohort of WA practitioners in government or government-funded programs whose roles include the provision of counselling for children who have experienced abuse or neglect.

Priority will be given to practitioners working with children who have experienced sexual abuse.

Scholarship enquiries are now open for eligible practitioners. The courses are also available on a fee for service basis, with the first cohort commencing in late February 2021.

Colin Pettit, Commissioner for Children and Young People WA, says the development and offering of these specialist courses will support better outcomes for vulnerable children.

“The Professional Certificates through their tailored approach combining the best international research with WA clinical expertise will help to improve the wellbeing of children and young people in WA, and importantly those living in regional and remote areas of the state,” Mr Pettit says.

Child Protection Minister Simone McGurk says the new online course will support and strengthen the state’s capacity to deliver high quality therapeutic services and improve outcomes for WA children who have suffered abuse or neglect.

“Through these new courses, Western Australia’s specialised workforce will be able to better understand, respond, assess and treat the harmful impacts of child abuse and trauma,” Minister McGurk says.

“The high-quality workforce development offerings respond to the needs of frontline practitioners across the state, and will aid the recovery of children who have experienced abuse or neglect. These courses demonstrate our continued commitment to respond to the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual Abuse and to ensure better outcomes for children in the state.”

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