Resolving unprocessed family violence trauma with butterfly hugs

Benji* is in Grade 3. His favourite animal is a tie between sloths and dogs.  He loves his Mum’s apricot chicken, playing with Lego and watching Harry Potter movies.

When he’s finished school, he wants to either be a YouTuber or a vet.

But Benji wasn’t thinking about his future much a year ago. Both his parents grew up as wards of the state after experiencing abuse at home.  Benji’s lived in 11 different places, been to 4 schools and has been scared of his dad for as long as he can remember.

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For some, Christmas isn’t merry and bright

As we come towards the end of what has been a difficult year, school and kinder stop for holidays and there’s lots to do. There’s the end-of-year busyness as we rush towards the finish line.  There’s lots of trying to squeeze in seeing friends, buying presents and preparing food for gatherings. While all this activity can be fun for some – and certainly many people feel like there’s extra to celebrate this year – for others it’s an extremely stressful and anxious time of the year.

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A year of two halves – Y-Change in conversation with our President and CEO

It’s been a year like never before. One that has —in so many complex ways —demonstrated the constancy of change, as well as how rapid change can so brightly shine a light on existing inequality. A time when we’re confronted to see the reality of what lies before us and work through some of the most challenging times in our lives.

At the same time — amongst the very real upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and the effects it will continue to have on children, young people, families, and societies the world over — there are glimmers of hope. We’ve been presented with a time potentially like never before, when all is laid bare, to challenge ourselves and reimagine how we can work together to courageously change lives and shape a new future. This includes a future where — as we believe at Berry Street — children, young people and families are safe, thriving and hopeful.

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How the Teaching Family Model is transforming residential care in Victoria

The number of children and young people coming into out-of-home care in Victoria has increased significantly in the past 5 years. But for those who have experienced significant and repeated trauma, traditional out-of-home care (such as foster and residential care) doesn’t always provide the right specialist support.

It is critical that they get the care they need to recover and ultimately thrive. This is why Berry Street runs a new, proven model of care to reimagine the future for our most vulnerable children and young people: the Teaching Family Model (TFM).

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Rupture, repair & building resilience in residential care

Residential care is not somewhere kids should have to live.

All children deserve a safe home with adults who care about them. Unfortunately, there are lots of kids who end up living in residential care with paid carers rostered to come into the unit and look after them.

However, for one 11-year-old that we’ve been working with, it’s been a positive place for him to live… temporarily.

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Berry Street Education Model in action

We recently asked schools to share their success stories in using BSEM strategies. We are excited to share these stories here.

Circles

It’s always good to start the day with a circle; a great way to check in and out, frame expectations for the day or session and nurture meaningful relationships within the community.

Denna Tye, teacher, explained, “At Naradhan Public School (NSW), we have implemented morning and afternoon circles to build on our predictable routines. It allows us to set the tone for the day, highlighting positives we’ve seen in the playground and then finish the day, by giving everyone the opportunity to reflect and share something they’ve enjoyed.”

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How to adopt a relationship-building approach

COVID has taken a huge toll on our collective mental health and wellbeing in Victoria.

For a lot of people who have previously suffered trauma or experienced any mental health problems it’s been even harder. For some children in out-of-home care who have experienced developmental trauma as a result of neglect or abuse, it’s been devastating.

Reports show during Stage 4 lockdown restrictions, there’s been a dramatic increase in Victorian children hospitalised due to self-harm and an unprecedented number of calls from Victorians to mental health services.

In this article we’ll explain how using a relationship-building approach can help a child feel safer, more secure and cared for.

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Stories of Impact – Rhythm, Culture and Community Wellbeing at School

Lamine Sonko is known as Australia’s African cultural journeyman. He has toured Australia and internationally as a performer and educator, engaging and energising audiences across the country, and bringing people together to celebrate diversity and enable creative collective action.

BSEM draws on evidence to advocate for the use of patterned, rhythmic physical movement activities to support students’ healing, growth and learning at school. In this interview, Lamine reflects on using rhythm and culture to engage young people, facilitate community and improve wellbeing.

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Supporting minds & spirits with cultural connections

“Heeeeey, Rob… I, I, I a Abbb-or-ig-in-oool!” he says proudly.

And off he runs again. A few moments later he’s back with a soft toy.

“And it,” he says pointing at his soft cuddly animal, “it, it my t… t… – who it Mum?”

“Totem mate,” says Anna softly, smiling at him.

“Yeah, it my toeeee-tum.” He grins and off he runs again to get his new gumboots to show Robyn, his Take Two clinician on the Zoom video call.

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Celebrating our Elders of tomorrow

By Kim Bradford, Aboriginal Consultant, Berry Street Take Two.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the babies, children and young people referred to Berry Street’s Take Two service are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. 

Yet Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children make up less than 2% of all Victorian children (Productivity Commission 2020).

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Video: Radically improving someone’s life: the emotional health of the babies

Babies – like all humans – can have good mental health, poor mental health or anything in between.

The first 1000 days of a child’s life is crucial to their mental health later in life. All babies need to feel safe and looked after – it’s what sets up their expectations of what a loving relationship feels like.

If the baby is not fed when they are hungry, held when distressed or spoken to regularly, they quickly learn to expect not to be looked after.

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Black Lives Matter

In case you missed our recent series of Tweets @BSEMaus regarding the #BlackLivesMatter and #AboriginalLivesMatter protest movement, we are sharing them again here. BSEM will always have a focus on contributing to collaborative efforts to make a positive difference in the lives of Aboriginal Australians and other marginalised groups. We are always interested in hearing from schools about the work you are doing in this space. Please contact us if you have thoughts, ideas or initiatives you would like to share with us or if you want to join us in this continuing conversation.

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