What makes people happy? What can you do to increase your own wellbeing?

Lea Waters
Associate Professor Lea Waters will be speaking about the promotion of positive psychology.

The answers to these age-old questions can surface from our favourite books, popular culture, talk-show personalities—and perhaps even your own mother!

For some, happiness is an integration of concepts from eastern and western religion or philosophy.

For others, wellbeing is the hard-earned benefit of lived-experience. 

The promotion of wellbeing is the driving force of positive psychology. Abraham Maslow was the first to coin the term “positive psychology” in 1954, noting “the science of psychology has been far more successful on the negative than the positive side.

It has revealed to us much about man’s shortcomings, his illness, his sins, but little about his potentialities, his virtues, his achievable aspirations, or his full psychological height.”

Over a decade ago, a call was put forth by Drs Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a rallying cry at the American Psychological Association to renew science’s spotlight on the positive.

Could we in fact answer the question, “What makes life worth living?” using evidence-based practice backed by rigorous research to bring this learning to families, schools, public health, and organisations?

And if we want to best meet the needs of vulnerable young people, isn’t it important to best understand the complete picture of the human being and gain insight into building, nurturing and sustaining positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and accomplishment?

The Berry Street Childhood Institute is excited to feature a leading champion of the field, Associate Professor Lea Waters of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Read more about her recent work at MGSE and the promotion of positive psychology.

We are pleased that Lea will be one of our featured key note speakers on Friday, 11 October. Come join us at the Berry Street Good Childhood Conference at Mooney Valley Racecourse.

A good childhood for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Julian Pocock, Director Public Policy & Practice Development
Julian Pocock, Director Public Policy & Practice Development

In 2007, Ampe Akelyernemane Meke Mekarle – or the Little Children Are Sacred Report – exposed the complexity and shame of sexual abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory.

Constant media focus on child abuse in the NT followed. Daily reports in The Australian newspaper and nightly stories on ABC’s Lateline.

They covered, paedophile rings, chronic neglect, kids sniffing petrol, kids roaming the streets day and night and the sexual abuse of kids, including kids abusing other kids. All fueled by a daily diet of pornography and alcohol.

Shocking, awful stuff. Hard to digest, hard to think about and harder to know where to start. But, in time, easy to ignore.

With the 2007 Federal Election looming, the NT intervention was announced in response to this ‘national emergency’.

Just after another election, it’s a good time to ask – has childhood improved for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children?

I’m not sure.

Media stories of neglect and abuse continue. Negative images of Aboriginal kids and families dominate.

Take a look at this photo of a two year old Aboriginal girl from NT in a News.com.au article.

What’s your first thought when you look at it?

At first glance it’s hard not to think she’s been punched.

I had to ask myself, why was that my first thought?

Are we getting any better at providing kids like this with a good childhood?

Welcome to The Good Childhood Conference blog!

CEO, Berry Street
Sandie de Wolf AM – CEO, Berry Street

This is a first for me as I join the blogging community!

At Berry Street, we believe that all children should have a good childhood, growing up feeling safe, nurtured and with hope for the future.  Sadly, evidence and our experience over 136 years tells us that this is not a reality for far too many children.

I think there is a lot for us to learn and share about what sustains a good childhood and how we best support those who have not had this experience. One of the key ways forward is bringing together parents’ experience, the knowledge of practitioners and different disciplines.

There are a wide range of terrific speakers lined up for our inaugural The Good Childhood Conference, designed to appeal to different audiences.  Some will be controversial. That’s part of the intention, because we really want to start a broad conversation about childhood.

We hope to have a large contingent of young people at the Conference – as both presenters and participants.

Like the work of Berry Street, our Conference will appeal to people from many different disciplines.  50 workshops will cover areas such as child protection, education, early years, wellbeing, place-based initiatives, family violence, the impact of technology and Out of Home Care.

We couldn’t be doing this without our Sponsors and Supporting Partners. We are especially grateful to the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, who describe their role as helping to build a strong and fair society for all Australians and developing social policies to:

  • Increase opportunities for all Australians to participate in our society and work
  • Promote cohesive and connected society
  • Support basic living standards
  • Support individuals, families and communities to build their capacity

So, please spread the word and I look forward to meeting you at the conference.

Sandie de Wolf, CEO, Berry Street