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2014 Thinker in Residence – Dr Michael Ungar

International expert in child resilience Dr Michael Ungar visited Perth from 19 to 30 May 2014 as the Commissioner’s Thinker in Residence 2014.

Acting Commissioner Jenni Perkins welcomed Dr Ungar as the third Thinker to focus attention on public policy issues that affect the wellbeing of children and young people.

The theme

During his two-week residency Dr Ungar worked with management and staff from government and non-organisations, and parents, offering new perspectives on a community-wide approach to building resilience in children and young people, particularly those who were vulnerable and had complex needs.

Dr Ungar’s explanation of resilience shifts our understanding of resilience from an individual concept, to a more culturally embedded understanding of wellbeing. He believes that resilience is possible for most children and young people. This can be achieved by shifting the focus from the difficulties and problems that children and young people have to the ways they cope and the ways in which we can facilitate their strengths and the processes they use.

When communities provide the services, supports, and health resources for children and young people to do well in ways that are meaningful to the individual, his or her family, and the community they are more likely to be resilient.

2014 Thinker in Residence Report by Dr Michael Ungar

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Public seminar handouts

Five seminar for professionals, parents and the community were held in Perth and Kalgoorlie.



The 2014 Thinker in Residence was supported by:

  • Departments of Health, Education, Local Government and Communities, Child Protection and Family Support and the Mental Health Commission
  • Child Australia
  • Rio Tinto
  • Edith Cowan University
  • Western Australian Council of Social Service Inc
  • Telethon Kids Institute