Connectedness for Children and Families Event

Wed, Nov 2, 2022 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM AEDT

Westmead,NSW Australia

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About the event

Join this interactive symposium to explore new ways of thinking about community connection for children and their families.

This interactive symposium brings together the voices of children, families, policymakers, service providers, volunteers and researchers to explore new ways of thinking about community connectedness and how to champion it for children and their families.

Social (dis)connection is a critical social policy issue, with one in three Australians reporting that they feel extended periods of loneliness. We know from a broad body of research that children are healthier, happier, and learn better when surrounded by community and feel a sense of place, identity and belonging. When we think about supporting children and families who experience complex challenges, we often focus on formal programs and targeted interventions. Connection and relationships are relegated to the private realm, nice to have, but difficult to measure or support. However, growing evidence supports connection and relationships as instrumental to making a difference in the lives of children and families experiencing adversity.

It has never been more critical to re-energise the notion that it takes a village to raise healthy children. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters have demonstrated the importance of social connection and the strength of communities when rallying together in the face of disasters through acts of kindness and service to support one another. How do we bounce forward from these experiences and further galvanise communities to be proactive and community-minded in times of non-crises? How can we build their perceptiveness to the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalised among them, with the confidence to respond and support their needs?

Community connectedness is the glue that can reintegrate a disparate service system while supporting sustained, meaningful change long after programs end. Researchers at TeEACH are interested in understanding the strengths, resilience, and resources present within every community. We are working to acknowledge, leverage and mobilise these strengths to support the building of connected communities. Our goal is to build resilient communities for all children, where they can feel valued and heard and take action, know when and where to ask for help, and know that support will be available for them.

The Schedule

Timing and agenda of event

  • 8:30 am

    Check In

  • event-speaker

    9:00 am


    opening of the event.

    - A/Prof Rebekah Grace

  • schedule-speaker

    09:30 am

    Keynote: Isaiah Dawe

    CEO / Founder of ID.Know Yourself & Board Director of TAFE NSW

    - Mr Isaiah Dawe

  • 10:30 am

    Morning Tea

  • schedule-speaker

    10:50 am


    Panel discussion

    - A/Prof Ann Dadich

  • schedule-speaker

    11:20 am


    4 x simultaneous workshops

    Mirrung (A place of belonging) - The Mirrung Ashcroft wellbeing hub initiative. - Christine Woodrow & Angelica Ojinnaka

    Intergenerational Care - Learn about our upcoming co-design research with Uniting Westmead on intergenerational care. Sit with children, create a collage, explore connection and community through intergenerational activities. - Cris Townley

    Acknowledgement - Share a sense of connectedness through the experiences of children and their educators from six early learning centres, where Acknowledgement practices have opened a gateway to a journey of self-discover , understanding and respect for the Traditional Custodians of this land. Grow this connectedness by contributing to a collective Acknowledgement and Respect Tree. - Cathy Kaplun

    Upholding the right to Cultural Connection for Children in Care - Many Children who enter the foster care system experience a loss of connection to the culture, belief systems and languages of their families of origin. This workshop will give focus to current policies and practices, and the views of professional stakeholders across Australia on the gaps in support and need for service transformation. - Megan Mitchell

  • 12:45 pm


  • schedule-speaker

    1:30 pm

    Showcase: Volunteer Family Connect Project

    The Volunteer Family Connect (VFC) is a community-based early intervention program providing one-on-one support to parents and carers in their home.

    This large multi-site research project demonstrated the important role that volunteers can play in building connected communities. Families and their community volunteers developed stronger social connections and increased wellbeing when they came together through the Volunteer Family Connect program.

    - A/Prof Rebekah Grace,

  • schedule-speaker


    World Cafe: Stimulus Question

    The World Cafe

    - A/Prof Rebekah Grace,

  • schedule-speaker

    03:00 pm

    Keynote: Commissioner Anne Hollonds

    Commissioner Hollands

    - Commissioner Anne Hollonds

  • 4:00 pm


The Speakers

Experts who will be speaking at the event


Isaiah Dawe

CEO / Founder of ID.Know Yourself & Board Director of TAFE NSW

View Bio

Anne Hollonds

Australia's National Children's Commissioner

View Bio

Rebekah Grace

Associate Professor, Director of TeEACH

View Bio


Research Week Showcase Only

$0 - Free/ Per Person
  • Research Week Showcase Only

Joining Online Only

$75 AUD/ Per Person
  • Full Day Schedule

In Person @ Westmead

$150 AUD/ Per Person
  • Full Day Schedule

The Venue

Transforming early Education And Child Health (TeEACH), Western Sydney University

Level 4, Innovation Quarter (iQ) - Westmead ,
160 Hawkesbury Road Westmead, NSW 2145


Common questions and answers about the event

  • Parking Availability

    There is a Secure car park "P2" across Darcy Road from our building. For 5+ hours it is capped at $20.20

    We recommend taking public transport with the Westmead Train station being only a 5-7 minute walk away.

  • COVID Information

    Do not attend this event if you are unwell and/or have been instructed to self-isolate.

    Please follow simple hygiene measures to help protect your health. Wash hands regularly, observe physical distancing measures, do not share food, drinks or cutlery and cover your mouth when sneezing or coughing.

    Western Sydney University, in line with the NSW Government no longer mandate the use of face masks but where you are not able to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from others, it is strongly recommended to wear a face mask.

  • Can I purchase tickets at the door?

    No, due to limited space tickets must be purchased at least (1) business day prior to the event.

  • Sponsoring the event

    If your company / organisation is interested in sponsoring the event please contact TeEACH at

speaker Bio image

Meet Isaiah Dawe

At 17, Isaiah Dawe was travelling back to boarding school after the holidays when his foster carer sent him a text saying he was no longer able to live with them.

When the time came to complete his Higher School Certificate exams, Isaiah wasn’t able to focus on the exam, he was thinking about where he was going to live and how he was going to survive.

This was the genesis for Isaiah to create ID. Know Yourself, the first Aboriginal led organisation delivering 1:1 mentoring and support coordination to Aboriginal children and young people in contact with the Out of Home Care and Juvenile Justice system in New South Wales. As Founder and CEO of ID. Know Yourself, Isaiah is determined to impact the lives of the 22,000 Aboriginal children in Out of Home Care, their purpose is to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and disadvantage by establishing belonging, discovering purpose and empowering positive choices.


Meet Anne Hollonds

Anne Hollonds is Australia’s National Children’s Commissioner. Formerly Director of the Australian Institute of Family Studies, for 23 years Anne was Chief Executive of government and non-government organisations focussed on research, policy and practice in child and family wellbeing. As a psychologist Anne has worked extensively in frontline practice, including child protection, domestic and family violence, mental health, child and family counselling, parenting education, family law counselling, and community development. Anne currently contributes to several expert advisory groups, including the Family Law Council, Australian Child Maltreatment Study, NSW Domestic and Family Violence and Sexual Assault Council, National Plan Advisory Group (NPAG), and Australian National Child Health and Development Atlas Oversight Group.

speaker Bio image

Meet Rebekah Grace

Associate Professor Rebekah Grace completed her degree in Psychology at the University of Sydney, with a major in Developmental Psychology. Her PhD was within the Department of Psychological Medicine in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney, Rebekah graduated from her PhD in 2002. Since that time, she has held academic positions. including a competitive postdoctoral fellowship, Program Manager for Research with Children and Young People at the Centre for Health Equity Training, Research and Evaluation at UNSW, and as the Vice Chancellor's Innovation Fellow at Maquarie University. While at Macquartie University, Rebekah also served as the National Director of the Parents as Teachers (PAT) program. Rebekah came to Western Sydney University in 2018 to take up the role of Deputy Director in the Centre for Translational Research and Social Innovation (TReSI) in the School of Nursing and Midwifery. In 2019 she accepted the role of Director for a Special Research Initiative at Western Sydney University called TeEACH (Transforming early Education and Child Health). Her position is located within the Translational Health Research Institute, and is closely alinged with the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the School of Education.