Safety Through Diversity Conference taking shape

6 September 2022


PACFA’s Safety Through Diversity Conference is shaping up to be five days of fascinating discussion and debate around counselling, psychotherapy and Indigenous Healing Practices, online from 14-18 November 2022.

For the first time, the conference will be conducted as a ‘festival of ideas’, with ‘collaborators’, rather than presenters, leading discussion on each day.

A stellar line-up of collaborators includes the College of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Practices Convenor, Jiman and Bundjalung woman, Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson, who facilitated a Masterclass Talking Circle of First Nations thought leaders on ‘First Nations Ways of Healing Trauma and the Connections with Neuroscience’ at the International Childhood Trauma Conference in Melbourne in August.

Day 1, Monday 14 November  – Indigenous Healing Practices

Prof. Atkinson is a key collaborator for Day One of the Conference focused on Indigenous Healing Practices – which will now be held on Monday 14 November instead of Sunday 13 November.

CATSIHP Deputy Convenor Bianca Stawiarski, a Badimaya and Ukranian woman, whose practice, Warida Wholistic Wellness, brings a balance between Western qualifications and Indigenous spirituality, will also facilitate Day One.

Joining them in leading conversations about Indigenous Healing Practices on Monday 14 November, are Tod Stokes, Tyson Carmody, Joe Williams and Judy-Kaye Knox.

Day 2, Tuesday 15 November - Gender, Body, Kinship and Sexuality

Day 2 is convened by PACFA’s Gender, Body, Kinship and Sexuality Interest Group. The day will begin with a morning Listening, Witnessing & Reflecting Space where people with GBKS lived experience can share their stories in a safe environment, facilitated by the GBKS Leadership Group Convenor Dr Gávi Ansara  (he/him, on Boonwurrung Country) and Phoenix (she/her, on Yuggera/Jagera and Turrbal lands), PACFA member clinical psychotherapist and relationship therapist. Practitioners and community workers with marginalised or excluded GBKS lived experiences are invited to share their stories.

Conference participants who bear witness in the Listening, Witnessing & Reflecting Space can engage with new perspectives that increase understanding and capacity, reflect on how our community can repair historic ruptures, and contribute toward building safer, more liberating professional environments within PACFA and the wider communities we serve.

On the afternoon of Day 2, some key collaborators include Samoan fa'atama psychotherapist eden brown (they/them), a neurodiverse, ethically non-monogamous, queer transgender non-binary person of colour (QTPOC) and trauma survivor, and Tanya Quakawoot (they/them), an Indigenous Recovery Specialist of Aboriginal and South Sea Islander descent. Tanya is currently working in project management in the violence prevention sector leading advocacy and change for improved recovery pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing domestic and family violence. Each will yarn about themes relevant to diversity in gender, body, kinship and sexuality.

eden looks forward to yarning about about how they, as a beginner QTPOC psychotherapist, navigate culturally dominant spaces, resource themselves, what has supported and challenged them in the broader psychotherapy field, and more.

Day 3, Wednesday 16 November – the politics of mental health

On Day 3 PACFA’s CEO Johanna de Wever, Relationships Australia NSW CEO Elisabeth Shaw, and counsellor, and author and educator, Adrian Holmes are among key collaborators who will lead discussion exploring the international and Australian history of mental health; the place of counselling and psychotherapy; and challenges and opportunities as we look ahead.

Day 4, Thursday 17 November - Research

Members of PACFA’s Research Committee headed by Dr Alexandra Bloch-Atefi are convening Day 4 of the conference. Associate Professor Michelle Evans and A/Prof Julie Moschion from University of Melbourne will be in conversation with CATSIHP Convenor, Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson, about the research project they are conducting on historical frontier violence and its impacts on Indigenous Australians today.

Auckland University of Technology Professor of Psychotherapy Keith Tudor will speak about engaging with Māori, as ‘tangata whenua’ (people of the land) as the first step in engaging in psychotherapy and counselling research in Aoeteroa New Zealand. Professor Tudor will speak about the importance of the ally/researcher’s positionality in theory and practice, and a model he has developed, based on a metaphor derived from rugby union – crouch, touch, pause, and engage.

Key collaborators for the Research day will also include Dr Vivienne Colegrove speaking about ‘Researching counselling efficacy: opportunities and challenges’ and Jules Silva leading discussion on therapists’ role in the climate crisis.

Day 5, Friday 18 November

Day 5 will weave together the threads from previous conference days and clarify what PACFA members and other participants will take forward as actions for the counselling and psychotherapy profession.

The conference presents an excellent, cost-effective opportunity for practising and academic members to accrue their CPD hours necessary for PACFA registration, with conference attendance accruing up to 5 Category A CPD hours per day.

Conference registration for the full five days, from 14-18 November, is only $190 for PACFA practising/academic/affiliate members and $90 for student members/ members experiencing financial hardship.

Single day registrations will cost $90 for all members. Conference registration will open soon.

The conference will be held via the Zoom platform and conducted with Community of Care Guidelines.

Read the Q&A about the conference with PACFA Secretary and Chair of the Conference Committee, Nigel Polak.