The Queensland Family and Child Commission (QFCC) held two very successful events in Cairns in June on Improving youth mental health and Preventing homelessness for young people leaving care. This follows on from events already held in Brisbane, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast.
Around 140 people attended the Research in the Round forum on Improving youth mental health. Presenters including Professor Brett McDermott, Professor Pat Dudgeon and Dr Mark Wenitong spoke to the latest research and how that applies in a local setting.
Professor McDermott discussed the ACE methodology (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and its strong predictive power for later health and mental health challenges in young people and across the lifespan. He explained however that the impact of adverse childhood experiences is further influenced by individuals’ biology including genetic and epigenetic factors, potential structural brain changes and/or immunological changes, and individuals’ psychological resilience and vulnerabilities including attachment style, coping and regulation mechanisms (including mood and anger regulation) and cognitive schema.
Dr Wenitong also spoke about the impact of early childhood experiences and broader community perspectives on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth mental health and wellbeing. Professor Pat Dudgeon, who flew from Perth to present at this forum, spoke about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mental health and suicide prevention with a focus on youth through the work of the Centre for Best Practice in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Suicide Prevention (CBPATSISP).
The Research Roundtable brought together 25 key leaders from government and non-government organisations in the Cairns region to discuss ways of Preventing homelessness for young people leaving care.
Dr Phil Flint, the North Queensland Leader from Mission Australia provided national insights from Mission Australia’s national youth survey combined with his local knowledge of homeless among young people leaving care in Cairns.
Inspector Corey Allen from the Queensland Police Service told of his interesting and practical application of police partnering with vulnerable people living on the streets. He spoke about the impact this had on relationships between police and vulnerable people which resulted in housing and other supports being provided through third parties, and the resultant reduction in demands on police resourcing and crime. These presentations were followed by discussions around positive actions that could be taken to reduce homelessness for young people leaving care in Cairns.
To keep up to date on the QFCC research agenda, visit www.qfcc.qld.gov.au/sector/research-policy/research-scan