November news

Clare McCann and I had a fantastic day yesterday running two sessions for the NZ Paediatric Society at their Special Interest Group (Child Protection and Child Development) Satellite Day in Tauranga. The audience were very enthusiastic about reflecting on how they can adapt the communication involved in their own work and asked lots of great questions about the work we are involved in. Joining the Paediatric Society is open to many of us who work with children and offers fantastic networking and opportunities for professional development, so check out how to get involved. We have recently and we’re very pleased to be at the table. More speech-language therapy involvement would be great to see!

Other recent training have included a series of nine 1 day workshops for CYF Residential staff at Care and Protection and Youth Justice residences, and we are looking forward to a workshop with the Health Connections team later this week. Planning is underway for professional training in 2017 with the Police and the Law Society.

The other big project we are currently planning is the start of our pilot youth justice project with Child Youth and Family in the Auckland region. This will involved regular weekly input into two CYF YJ teams to support Communication Champions from CYF to develop strategies, tools and resources to allow youth people’s voices to be heard clearly in the processes they undergo and to ensure they can fully understand and participate. This is a wonderful new initiative for NZ and we are looking forward to getting underway in early February.

Our own New Zealand Speech-Language Therapists’ Association (NZSTA) conference in September provided a wonderful opportunity to connect with and learn from the amazing expertise within our own profession. This year there was a whole session of presentations about youth justice which we also contributed to. Our workshop, run with a highly skilled and experienced colleague from CYF about working with children who are growing up in contexts of vulnerability was well received by the large group who attended. The growing knowledge base concerning issues of attachment and trauma informed care and how this is highly relevant to those of us who are speech-language therapists was drawn on heavily in this workshop.

We are managing a growing number of court-appointed Communication Assistant roles in the Youth Court and District Court for defendants and witnesses. This has also included assisting at Family Group Conferences. Although most of our work has been in the Auckland Region we have been further afield recently to Waikato and the South Island. Our projects as part of the working party developing the the NZ guidelines and practice notes for Youth Justice are progressing.

Two of us (Sally Kedge and Alayne McKee) attended Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder multidisciplinary diagnostic training for a week in Canada at the Asante Centre which was a fantastic opportunity to learn from both the expertise there and from our NZ colleagues who were training with us.

Another recent professional development opportunity we took recently was on Restorative Practices in Schools run by the fabulous Margaret Thorsborne. We’re now looking forward to her new book about how these practices can be used for people with special needs to be delivered as this will help us in our work in Family Group Conferences and other contexts.

Food for thought has also been provided by the various Seelye Fellow lecturers and other visitors hosted by the Psychology Department at The University of Auckland over the last year. Topics such as ‘The Development and Prevention of Anti-Social Behavior during Early Childhood’, ‘Traumatic Brain Injury and Cross-Cultural Neuropsychology’ and ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences, Communication and Health’ have been relevant to reflect on when developing our own frameworks for practice.

2017 looks to be a busy year for TTANZ and we are looking forward to what is ahead with enthusiasm.

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