Emerging Minds

Replanting the Birthing Trees: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children in the first 2,000 days

About the course

This course, Replanting the Birthing Trees: Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and children in the first 2,000 days, is focused on transforming ‘vicious’, compounding cycles of intergenerational trauma and harm to ‘virtuous’, positively reinforcing cycles of nurture and recovery. Attention is on the critical life-course transition of a baby’s first 2,000 days. The course aims to build your skills in culturally safe, trauma-integrated, holistic and transdisciplinary care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.  

Replanting the Birthing Trees was co-created with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledge holders, through a process and approach of inclusive content development, preferencing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander knowledges and ways of knowing, being and doing to work towards pedagogical and epistemological equality. 

The strengths-based approach of this course recognises the resilience of individuals and communities. It honours the abilities, knowledge and capacities gained through lived and living experience, rather than viewing things through a deficits-based lens which focuses on what people don’t know or can’t do. It reinforces and aligns with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,1 acknowledging that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community is a rich source of knowledge and expertise, and that people are able to learn, grow and change.  

Replanting the Birthing Trees follows on from the Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future course and is part of a project developing perinatal awareness, recognition, assessment and support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex childhood trauma. Developed in collaboration with the Healing The Past By Nurturing The Future team, this practice course is the next step to support your connections and practice with parents and caregivers through this vitally import period in life.  

Throughout the course you’ll be asked to review knowledge gained from a Western understanding. You’ll also learn about the cultural considerations that support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families for the first 2,000 days, and consider what the barriers and opportunities are for non-Indigenous practitioners in providing support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and families. 

This course is one training package in the Replanting The Birthing Trees project, a highly innovative Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-led project to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and babies. It aims to help parents achieve their hopes and dreams for a happy, safe and healthy family. It is founded on the idea of a Birthing Tree, and re-establishing the safe and sacred spaces used by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women for thousands of years. The parts of a Birthing Tree are aligned with the six streams of the project – we invite you to learn more about this concept and project on the Replanting The Birthing Trees website.


Review of Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future

Module one examines: how the ancient wisdom of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ways of parenting can be applied to contemporary practice; the impacts of colonisation trauma that may present in your interactions with parents; and the principles of culturally reflective practice.

Pregnancy and birth

In module two you'll learn about holistic provision of care and the importance of building relationships, while checking your emotional responses in conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Baby's first year

This module focuses on baby's first year and their parents, as well as the range of clinical and non-clinical options for support and the role you play in supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Toddlers, age 1–3 years

In module four you'll learn about how to apply emotional, physical and cultural safety in practice with strategies for sensitive communication and safely seeking knowledge about family contexts.

Preschoolers, age 3–5 years

Module five prompts you to practice cultural curiosity and reframe the narrative of risk to prioritise connectedness and strengths, and support reclaiming conversations.

Content warning

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

Who is this course for?

This course is designed for non-Indigenous care providers working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents and their children in the first 2,000 days. This includes those practitioners working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community-controlled or mainstream services, and those working in private practice, including: 

  • general practitioners 
  • paediatricians 
  • paediatric nurses 
  • midwives 
  • obstetricians 
  • child and family practitioners 
  • mental health nurses 
  • psychologists 
  • early childhood educators 
  • social workers.

Learning objectives

  • Identify sensitive communication and enquiry skills. 
  • Distinguish the factors of social and emotional wellbeing and holistic provision of care. 
  • Outline strengths-based approaches to offer choice and empowerment to parents. 
  • Determine an approach to undertaking ongoing culturally reflective practice when working with a different culture to your own. 
  • Record steps to establish cultural, social and emotional safety in practice.


It’s estimated that this course will take you approximately five 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’s important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the following self-care tips 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. 

Some essential tools for putting in place strategies for self-care include: 

  • being prepared – thinking through the ‘what-ifs’ step-by-step 
  • understanding personal signs of being overwhelmed 
  • setting prompts that will notify you that you need to pull back 
  • pre-determining how you will pull back, and how you know you will be OK to re-engage 
  • linking into peer supports 
  • engaging in, and prescheduling, regular stress-reduction activities 
  • seeking opportunities to reflect on your experiences with your professional colleagues.

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call 13 Yarn on 13 92 76, Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purpose of this course, we have aligned to the following ages and stages of child development: 

  • Infants: ages 0–1 years 
  • Toddlers: ages 1–3 years
  • Early childhood: ages 3–5 years

Antenatal is considered as the period from conception until birth.  

The perinatal period is considered here as the time from conception to the end of the first postnatal year. 

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 a 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’s 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 

Social and emotional wellbeing is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.4

Social and emotional development involves the development of skills required to: 

  • identify and understand one’s feelings
  • read and understand the emotional states of other people
  • manage strong emotions and how they are expressed
  • regulate behaviour
  • develop empathy
  • establish and maintain relationships.5


This activity has been approved for the following hours and types with RACGP and ACCRM

Educational activities: 3.5 hours

Reviewing performance hours: 1 hour

This activity has also been approved for: Cultural Safety Training with RACGP, and by the General Practice Mental Health Standards Collaboration for Mental Health CPD

RACGP CPD Approved Activity


Co-author: Shirley Young, Two Worlds Consultancy

We'd like to thank Professor Catherine Chamberlain and the Healing The Past By Nurturing The Future and Replanting The Birthing Trees project investigators, partners and team members.

We’d also like to recognise 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.

Course cover photo: Nharla Photography

Indigenous Health Equity Unit
University of Melbourne
Ngank Yira Institute for Change
Murdoch University
Paul Ramsay Foundation
Ian Potter Foundation

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

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


  1. United Nations. (2007). UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  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.
  4. Everymind. (2020). Understanding mental health, mental ill-health & suicide. Newcastle: Everymind.
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2009). A picture of Australia’s children 2009. Cat. no. PHE 112. Canberra: AIHW.

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