Accessing good resources for Indigenous social work practice is like stumbling across a rare diamond while prospecting for opals.  Eureka!   Here are some professional development resources that have added sparkle to my work!

 Alcohol and Drugs

Anni Hine Moana is a researcher and practioner who has been exploring the effectiveness of narrative therapeutic interventions for Aboriginal women who use alcohol and other drugs.  On the ‘Talk the Walk’ podcast in October 2017 she shared findings from her current research and these paper presentations:  Our Own History Book and Re-storying alcohol use amongst Aboriginal Australians.

Children    The Child Trauma Academy is a community of practice based on the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics.  The guru of all things related to trauma and the brain – Bruce Perry – has many writings here including B Perry-Effects-of-trauma    Having undertaken Joe Tucci’s training, we highly recommend The Australian Childhood Foundation’s trauma informed evidence-based practice training.  They are doing great collaborative, culturally sensitive work with RANT in Alice Springs and surrounding town camps.     The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care is the peak body in Australia advocating for the needs of our Indigenous children.  Through Young Black Eyes is essential reading for those new to Indigenous community social work.

The Kids Matter Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Resource Portal has a wealth of information of a range of issues related to children’s health and wellbeing, early childhood, safety, trauma and parenting.

Trauma-informed services and trauma-specific care for Indigenous Australian children is essential reading by Professor Judy Atkinson, the brains behind the We Al-li approach to healing.   She also presented Children at Risk: Developmental Trauma within a Complex Trauma Environment at the SNAICC Conference 2013.

“There’s White law, there’s Aboriginal law and there’s Bullshit law”.  “Child Sexual Abuse – It’s not cultural” stresses the importance of professionals addressing their fears about mandatory reporting to break the cycle of abuse for children.

Ngaoara is committed to supporting Aboriginal communities, organisations and service providers to develop and deliver child centric, trauma informed and whole of community responses to complex social issues, and to work to eliminate violence against children.

Child Protection

‘Stories of hope for Aboriginal children, families and culture: Narrative responses to a national crisis’ includes stories from families who, despite suffering for their kids, have managed to get them back; stories from foster parents who are fostering not only children but also relationships and pride; stories from child protection workers whose honesty is creating trust in the shadow of the stolen generations and who are prioritising the safety of children through focusing on solutions and partnerships.

An initiative of SNAICC, Family Matters aims to eliminate the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in out-of-home care by 2040.  Read about the issues, discover solutions and access resources here.

Community Development

In this TEDx talk, Denise Hagan shares her radical and successful approach to working with Indigenous communities.

Graeme Stuart of the Family Action Centre shares ‘Navigating dilemmas of community development: Practitioner reflections on working with Aboriginal communities’

Cultural Competence

The Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care (SNAICC) provides useful information for engaging Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities in ‘Working and Walking Together‘.

How to be a good Indigenous ally outlines 7 ways non-Indigenous people can be useful allies.


Shantelle, a proud Barkindji woman speaks on Beyond Blue’s podcast Not Alone about her experience of post-natal depression.

Good News Stories

The Gunbalanya Family Safety Program draws on the knowledge and experience of local people and culture in developing and implementing initiatives and services to address issues such as substance abuse and family violence.

Grief and Loss

The Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Grief and Loss Network have put together this really good overview of how the trauma of colonisation continues to play out in Aboriginal communities.

I have undertaken and highly recommend ‘Using Loss & Grief to Address Major Social, Emotional & Health  Challenges Across Aboriginal Communities‘ – fully accredited training led by Rosemary Wanganeen, an inspiring and vibrant Aboriginal woman from South Australia.  You’ll wish you’d done this years ago!

The first of six short video’s demonstrating what the “Footprints in Time” longitudinal study can teach us about understanding children’s grief and loss.

Healing in Aboriginal Communities

The Healing Foundation has been funded to implement healing programs across Australia, as well as offer trauma-informed training, education, research and evaluation.  For other examples of ‘what works’ in practice and to be inspired, check out Healing In Practice.

We Al-li is a trauma informed, trauma specific educational and practice based approach that promotes health, well-being, and sustainable pathways of positive change for individuals, families and communities at both a personal and professional level.  Founder, Judy Atkinson speaks here about healing approaches in Indigenous communities.

The opposite of violence is love.  Whilst raising awareness about Lateral Violence, The Lateral Love Network is spreading love.

David Clark’s Sharing Culture website has a wealth of information about healing from an Indigenous perspective, exploring historical trauma and its consequences (e.g. mental health problems, addiction, suicide), as well as the impact of other adversities, e.g. social and economic disadvantage, experiences of paternalism and racism, and ongoing grief.

The Telling Story project has been recording stories across remote Australia allowing Aboriginal people to speak about their lives in ways that make them stronger using the Tree of Life metaphor.


Aboriginal Resource Development Services have a wide range of DVDs on health topics and other areas of interest to the community.

Intergenerational Trauma

Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future is a community-based participatory research project which aims to co-design awareness, recognitation, assessment and support strategies for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents experiencing complex childhood trauma.


Broome-based LGBTI advocate, Dameyon Bonson is a well-respected researcher and consultant with an amazing collection of reading and comments on his website and blog.

Mental Health

‘Working with Aboriginal People: Enhancing Clinical Practice in Mental Health Care’ consists of a video resource and Discussion Guide produced by NSW Health.

Narrative Therapy and Practices

Team of Life artwork

Team of Life artwork

The Dulwich Centre is the gateway to information, training, publications and books about narrative therapy and collective narrative practice.  We particularly like Telling Our Stories in Ways That Make Us Stronger – Aboriginal stories of healing from grief and loss; Linking Stories and Initiatives –  Article 7 on the narrative approach to working with the skills and knowledge of communities; and These Stories are like a healing – the document of skills and strengths written in collaboration with Yirrkala and Port August communities in response to suicide.

With great success, we have used The Tree of Life and The Team Of Life  methodologies to engage with Aboriginal children on the Tiwi Islands.

The Telling Story project has been recording stories across remote Australia allowing Aboriginal people to speak about their lives in ways that make them stronger using the Tree of Life metaphor.

The Womens Group Community Garden Art Project is an example of a collective narrative document that can be written out of work with the Tree of Life.  For more on writing collective narrative documents, we recommend Collective Narrative Practice by David Denborough.

Here are some excellent thoughts-on-narrative-therapy_contributions-to-indigenous-mental-health by Tim Agius and Jen Hamer.

Tileah Drahm-Butler is a Durrumbal woman who lives and works in Far North Queensland.  Here she talks about ‘Decolonising Identity Stories’


Australia, we need to talk by Cally Jetta.  “Is reconciliation between Australia’s Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples possible?  Cally Jetta maintains that it is not.  Instead, she proposes that to build a harmonious future, we need to think differently and address our nation’s history honestly”.

Social and Emotional Wellbeing

Understanding Aboriginal perspectives of social and emotional wellbeing, I highly recommend Working Together: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health and Wellbeing Principles and Practices.

Social Work – Cross Cultural Practice

Starting out in social work with Aboriginal people and communities?  In 2015, the AASW released ‘Preparing for culturally responsive and inclusive social work practice in Australia’.

Spirituality and Mindfulness

All of us can learn from the teachings of Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr-Bauman on ‘Dadirri’.  This concept of inner deep listening and quiet still awareness transformed not just my therapeutic work with others, but in care of myself.  Watch Miriam-Rose talk about Dadirri and download a written description from her website Miriam Rose Foundation.  Beyond Blue also talk with Miriam on their podcast Not Alone.

Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson talks at TEDxSydney on ‘The Value of Deep Listening – The Aboriginal Gift to the Nation’


Broome-based LGBTI advocate in suicide prevention, Dameyon Bonson is a well-respected researcher and consultant with an amazing collection of reading and comments on his website and blog.  Check out

‘Suicidal Thoughts, Behaviours and Deliberate Self-Injury’ is a brief guide for professionals providing Mental Health First Aid to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, produced by Beyond Blue.

The Stolen Generations

Australians Together is a site dedicated to truth-telling about Australia’s real history.

Traditional Healing

A blog post on how the Yidaki (didgeridoo) is used in Yolŋu culture for healing in North East Arnhemland.

Trauma Informed Practice for Schools

Making Space for Learning should be part of every teachers reading pack!

Calmer Classrooms is a fantastic resource for teachers dealing with challenging behaviours linked to trauma, that has come out of the good work at Berry Street.

Using metaphors in counselling and therapy

Narratives In The Suitcase from South Africa, has given child refugees a way of speaking about their experiences and developing rich stories of their hopes for the future, through the creative process of making a suitcase.  This has evolved from the work of Glynis Clacherty in The suitcase project – working with refugees using art.

The Role of Metaphor in Recovery from Trauma by Susan Lien Whigham, 2006

Recipes for life is a narrative approach to telling our experiences and stories through the metaphor of a recipe. It involves exploring memories, connections, histories and journeys through food.  The Rhythm of Life draws on narrative ideas and musical metaphors.  These methodologies evolved from the original  The Tree of Life and The Team Of Life.

Websites and Blogs

Aboriginal Resource Development Services have a wide range of media resources from documentaries of traditional stories and songs to educational DVDs on health topics and other areas of interest to the community.

Common Ground hosts a collection of original and curated learning articles on culture, history and reconciliation.

Sharing Culture aims to build educational and storytelling resources that (1) empower Indigenous people to heal, (2) help people create environments in which healing can flourish, and (3) reduce barriers to healing (e.g. racism, paternalism) in wider society.   This website/blog was developed by David Clark, an Emeritus Professor of Psychology, who lives in Perth, Western Australia.