Social Outreach

Aboriginal Attachment Program

Our Aboriginal Attachment Program provides resources and training for a culturally secure and sensitive parenting model for Aboriginal Australians.

Young mother and grandparents  coddle baby

Our attachment-based parenting resources, developed in consultation with leading Aboriginal service providers, academics and health workers, support the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal Australian families.

Why is Aboriginal Attachment important?

  • There is a range of social, cultural and historical factors which affect the ability of some Aboriginal Australians to parent effectively. Historical and current trauma and loss and disadvantage continue to have long term effects on parenting.
  • Aboriginal attachment-based parenting is an under researched area and there is a lack of evidence-based programs being offered specifically to this population.
  • Attachment-based parenting emphasizes the importance of consistent, reliable, sensitive, responsive and kind caregiving. Such caregiving ensures children feel safe and secure and supports them to reach their potential.
  • Our resources and training are designed to support health professionals to undertake early intervention and promote parent and infant/child attachment with Aboriginal families. 

What is the Aboriginal Attachment Program?

In 2013/14, St John of God Health Care Social Outreach secured funding through the WA Mental Health Commission to develop culturally secure and sensitive parenting resources for working with Aboriginal families.

We developed the resources and training in consultation and collaboration with leading Aboriginal service providers, academics and health workers and the Circle of Security (CoS) developers.

Our resources and training focuses on attachment parenting and incorporate COS principles with an emphasis on the role family and community play in Aboriginal parenting and incorporates:

  • connection to culture
  • connection to country
  • connection to community
  • connection to spirit, spirituality and ancestors.

Through the WA Mental Health Commission and the Rural Health Alliance Continuing Education Stream 2 we developed resources (DVD and posters) and a training program to address identified gaps in support.

Our ongoing training program is based on knowledge and understanding of parent infant attachment within Aboriginal, cultural and historical contexts. It is designed to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers and health professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands families to undertake early intervention and promote parent and infant/child attachment.

Our impact

We provide tools and built confidence for health professionals and Aboriginal health workers to promote parent infant attachment within a cultural context.

Since 2013, we have provided training to almost 90 health professionals often in very remote areas and have facilitated networking opportunities in these communities to build capacity and enhance professional relationships. 

Future plans

  • Launch the Aboriginal attachment resources
  • Deliver further training in WA
  • Develop a train the trainer package
  • Evaluate the training program and uptake of resources