Australian Childhood Foundation Child Trauma Conference


  Many people are left with a fragmented memory of their traumatic experiences, a host of easily reactivated neurobiological responses, and baffling, intense, nonverbal memories – sensorimotor reactions and symptoms that tell the story without words, as though the body knows what they do not now cognitively. They are often unaware that these reactions – intrusive body sensations, images, smells, physical pain and constriction, numbing, and the inability to modulate arousal – are in fact remnants of past trauma… traumatised individuals interpret these reactivated sensorimotor responses as statements about their identity or selfhood: I am never safe, I am worthless and unlovable. These beliefs are reflected in the body and affect posture, breathing, freedom of movement, even heart rate and respiration  … Pat Ogden (2006).

In the brain, the collective actions of intricate neural networks shape behaviour, form and retrieve memories, evoke emotions, react to danger and build relationships with others.

Knowledge about brain-body science has challenged and resourced exciting innovation in the ways that children, young people and adults are supported to recover from the effects of violence, disruption and relational disconnection.

The neuroscience of childhood trauma and attachment is now integral to practice approaches of professionals from education, child protection, mental health, family support, drug and alcohol, police, out of home care and criminal justice services.

In this unique event, the Australian Childhood Foundation has assembled thought leaders in interpersonal neurobiology, trauma and therapy in a conference format that promises to engage, challenge and integrate perspectives about working with children, young people and families.

The conference has three separate components, each offering options for participants to follow their own interests and plan a program that is specific to their learning objectives.

Component 1.            Masterclass Workshops 

There are full day Masterclass workshops offered during the first and last day of the conference. These are opportunities for delegates to engage with a selection of key note speakers in an extended training session focusing on a cutting edge topic in the field of neurobiology, trauma, attachment and therapeutic intervention. One of the Masterclass workshops is specifically for foster carers and kinship carers.

Component  2.           Key Note Speaker Seminars 

There are two full days of concurrent key note speaker seminars. The seminars run for 1.5 hours each. Delegates can choose from a selection of insightful and thought provoking presentations. Some of the presentations are repeated to ensure that delegates do not miss out on the many seminars of interest in the program. The end of each day of seminars will feature two plenary closing panels featuring International and Australian experts answering questions from participants.

Component 3.            Paper Presentations by Conference Delegates 

Following a call for abstracts, selected papers will be presented by delegates during the middle day of the conference. The papers can be research, practice or policy focussed. These papers will be presented in thematic sessions some of which will be attended by the international speakers. This day will conclude with each of the international speakers coming together in a plenary panel to discuss their reflections on the issues raised during the presentations.