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International child expert to visit Kalgoorlie

International child resilience expert Dr Michael Ungar will visit Kalgoorlie on Friday 23 May with Acting Commissioner for Children and Young People Jenni Perkins to meet Aboriginal Elders, community members, young people and parents.

During his visit Dr Ungar will also meet with local management and staff from government and non-government organisations to offer new perspectives onestablishing a community-wide approach to building resilience in children and young people, particularly those who are vulnerable and have complex needs.

The Kalgoorlie visit is part of the 2014 Thinker in Residence for the Commissioner for Children and Young People.

Dr Ungar will host a free seminar for parents, health practitioners, educators and other interested members of the community on Friday, 23 May at the Centre for Engineering and Mining Training. Further information and booking links are available from

During his two-week residency Dr Ungar will hold a series of workshops and lectures in Perth on resilience and outline resilience-building strategies that have been shown to be effective in a home and family environment.

Ms Perkins said the residency will generate discussion about the latest research concerning resilience and how this information can be used to inform policies and practices of a broad range of community and government services, such as child protection, education, mental health, health and local government.

“Dr Ungar will provide a strong focus on what we can do across the community to better support vulnerable children and young people, while also speaking about how the ‘overprotection’ of children can be detrimental to their wellbeing.

“The residency is an opportunity to hear about best practice programs and services in both of these areas from around the world.” 

Dr Ungar is a Killam Professor of Social Work at Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada. He is currently the Network Director of the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network and Co-Chair of the Nova Scotia Mental Health and Addictions Strategy Advisory Committee. He is also the founder and Co-Director of the Resilience Research Centre (RRC).

Widely published on the topic of resilience in young people, Dr Ungar also conducts a family therapy practice in association with Phoenix Youth Programs, a prevention program for street youth and their families.

During a two-day visit to Perth in October 2013, his presentations to parents and professionals generated great enthusiasm for more in-depth information about ways to expose children to age-appropriate risk to help them develop the confidence to cope with challenges.

Dr Ungar takes a strengths-focused approach to healing and building resilience in children and young people from disadvantaged and challenging backgrounds,drawing on support from friends, family and the wider community to help foster self identity, control and responsibility.

To build the skills to navigate their way through challenges and adversity and overcome risky and troubling behaviours all young people need structure, consequences, good relationships with parents, and to feel they belong and are treated fairly, Dr Ungar maintains.

This will be the third Thinker in Residence undertaken by the Commissioner and a number of government and non-government agencies are supporting the project, including Rio Tinto, Edith Cowan University, the Departments for Local Government and Communities, Child Protection and Family Support, Education, and Health, the Mental Health Commission, WACOSS, the Telethon Kids Institute and Child Australia.

For more information: