There is so much suffering in the lives of many children and young people in Victoria. Physical, sexual and emotional abuse, family violence and other trauma, mental illness, as well as the impact of illness and the illness of others take a high toll on young people.
Many people and organisations see this suffering and work hard to reduce the impact of it, as well as help young people and their families address and recover from what are often very complex issues. It is challenging work at times – for all involved.
Each year the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) compile a statewide snapshot of Good Practice to highlight programs that are innovative and successful in helping children, young people and their families. SECASA contribute greatly to the wellbeing of young people; notably our program TOTEM (art for families affected by sexual and family abuse).
There are always challenging moments in running these programs. The reasons why people come to the group in the first place are also the reasons why behaviour, attitudes and ability to engage in the program are challenging at times. Sustained programs, that is, programs that go for months, are essential to give participants time to settle into the work and creativity and give themselves a chance to try out and learn new skills, enjoy themselves and develop relationships. I run the art and food side of the program in close collaboration with a SECASA counsellor – this combination is crucial in developing a program that supports the wellbeing of our participants. Along the way, the counsellor and I consult each other to respond to the particular needs and issues that arise throughout the program.
I love receiving the DHHS Snapshot. It is full of art which affirms the place creativity has in recovery and the wellbeing of young people and families. My images from TOTEM are scattered throughout the snapshot which not only feels great for me – but is a great boost to the people in our groups who created them.
There is always more to be done, more innovation, and more staff and resources needed to support children, young people and families. But there are great things happening too.
A short version of the snapshot – just our images and SECASA contributions are available here on this PDF : DHS GOOD PRACTICE snapshot 2015
The DHHS Good Practice : a statewide snapshot 2015, and previous editions, can be downloaded from this DHHS website.
SECASA receives support from the Flora and Frank Leith Trust for TOTEM.