Aboriginal Attachment Program

The Aboriginal Attachment Program has seen the development of resources and training for a culturally secure and sensitive parenting model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. 

Young mother and grandparents  coddle baby

Our attachment-based parenting resources, developed in consultation with leading Aboriginal service providers, academics, health workers and the Circle of Security developers support the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families.

Why is Aboriginal parent-infant attachment important?

  • There is a range of social, cultural and historical factors which may affect the ability of some Indigenous parents to parent effectively. Historical and current trauma and loss and disadvantage continue to have long term effects on parenting.
  • Australian Indigenous 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 emphasises 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 child attachment with Indigenous families. 

What are the Connected Parenting resources?

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 and Torres Strait Islander families.

We developed the resources (posters and video) 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 and Torres Strait Islander parenting.

Connected Parenting - The Big Picture incorporates connection to: Connected Parenting The Big Picture

  • culture
  • country
  • community
  • spirit, spirituality and ancestors
  • family and kinship.

Connected Parenting - Coming Together incorporates the universal hopes and dreams that all parents all over the world want for their children:

  • to have good self-esteem
  • to be able to trust
  • to be strong
  • to be respectful.

Our 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.

Connected Parenting eLearning resource

The Connected Parenting eLearning resource will launch in early 2019. 

The resource is designed to support health workers and health professionals working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islands families to:

  • explore the relevance of attachment-based parenting for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents
  • facilitate the sharing of this knowledge with families
  • facilitate conversations with parents and carers to identify supports available to assist them in their parenting role
  • support parents to be the best parents that can be in order for their children to achieve their full potential. 

The resource has been developed by St John of God Social Outreach and Child and Adolescent Community Health, and supported by the WA Mental Health Commission. 

Our impact

We have provided tools and built confidence for health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health workers to promote parent infant attachment within a cultural context.

Since 2015, we have provided face-to-face training to over 250 health professionals and Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander health workers; often in very remote areas and have facilitated networking opportunities in these communities to build capacity and enhance professional relationships.