Emerging Minds

Our Woven Ways: Connecting practitioners with the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families

About the course

This course looks at the intersection between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parenting and taking a child-centred community approach in which a child’s identity develops in relation to their family and community, broader society, the environment, and the living spirits of their sacred ancestors and Land.1 You will be asked to consider how colonisation has interrupted important connections and relationships between family, community, culture and Land, causing intergenerational and complex trauma, and disrupting the passing down of knowledge on parenting practices.

You'll also be introduced to practice strategies to support you in building the genuine connections and trust required to have culturally safe, connecting conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents about their worries, strengths and hopes for their children.

Content warning

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this course may contain images, video, audio or names of people who have passed away.

Our Woven Ways: Connecting practitioners with the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families is based on the whole child ecological approach that demonstrates the importance of connections between child, family and community as a framework for your work with families. The use of this approach provides context to the dominant problem story of adversity, giving parents and caregivers space to reflect on their individual stories, including both difficulties and strengths. Importantly, this process highlights areas of strength and resilience and the strategies that families have used to cope with adversity in the past.  

These concepts involve understandings of cultural resilience and provide a space for reflection, curiosity, and deep listening. When families have the chance to discuss and identify their practices of strength and resilience, they become more possible to replicate in the future.

Thriving children


Parents and family


Understanding emotions
Coping skills
Being loved
Being healthy
Positive culture and identity
Basic needs met
Strong sense of identity
Parent-child interactions
Family cohesion
Shared beliefs and values
Understanding emotions
Collaborative problem solving
Rituals and traditions
Support networks
Parenting confidence
Family interactions
Community support
Access to resources
Connections and belonging
Social support networks
Involvement in Community
Sense of safety
Historical context
Positive culture

Throughout this course we use a fictional family case study to consider the knowledge and strategies required to support children, families and communities.

Our Woven Ways follows on from the Emerging Minds course Working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children: A framework for understanding which provides the foundational skills and knowledge required by non-Indigenous practitioners to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities.

This course has been created in partnership with Menzies School of Health Research and the Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative (AIMhi). The AIMhi Stay Strong app is an innovative tool that addresses Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and wellbeing using a cross-cultural approach. The app is based on more than 15 years of research and collaboration within AIMhi and is designed to promote wellbeing by reviewing strengths, worries and goals people have or changes they’d like to make in their lives.

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for practitioners who work specifically with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families. This includes GPs, paediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists, allied health professionals, child protection workers, social workers, child mental health practitioners and specialist counsellors.

Learning outcomes

This course will provide strategies for your work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their families, supporting practices that:

  • take a whole of community approach in understanding the values and customs that are important in the child’s life
  • take a child-centred approach by placing the child’s voice front and centre in conversations with family and community members
  • use a curious and non-stigmatising approach that helps families identify the stressors and worries they may have, including experiences of trauma, loss and racism; and
  • support families to identify their motivators for change, including strengths, skills, connections, hopes and dreams that parents have for their children.


It's estimated that this course will take you approximately two hours to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


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 13Yarn on 13 92 76, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636, or SANE Australia on 1800 187 263.


For the purposes of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological and 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.2

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 which results from 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.3


This activity has been approved for the following hours and types:

Educational activities: 1.5 hours

Reviewing performance hours: 0.5 hour

This activity has also been approved for Mental Health CPD by the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration.

RACGP CPD Approved Activity


Menzies School of Health Research
AIMhi Stay Strong app
AC Care Walking Together
Hippy Murray Bridge

Co-authors: Dr Tricia Nagel and Dr Michelle Sweet, Menzies School of Health Research

Contributors: David Edwards, Emerging Minds Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander National Consultancy Group

We’d like to recognise all the dedicated professionals and lived experience advocates who inform our work for the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families, and played an integral role in shaping this course by generously offering their time, wisdom and stories.

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses.


  1. Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care Inc. (2010). Working and walking together, p. 21. North Fitzroy: SNAICC.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: Development of a children’s headline indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing 2017–2023. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Ready to start learning?

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