2019 - Mount Isa - Young people: from surviving to thriving

The QFCC Regional Speakers Series event on Young People: From Surviving to Thriving was held in Mount Isa on 17 October 2019.

The purpose of the Regional Speaker Series is to bring respected speakers to the regions to make expert knowledge more accessible; and from being more accessible, used to influence the way we do our work; and also the way in which we interact with our children and families.

The keynote speaker at the Mount Isa event was well-known and highly regarded clinical psychologist, researcher and author, Andrew Fuller. 

The QFCC also presented on several of its initiatives that have relevance to North-West Queensland. These were the Families are First Movement, presented by John Gibson and Jane Reid, Principal Advisors on Indigenous Outcomes. The Families are First Movement is exploring, sharing and celebrating the strengths of over 60,000 years of parenting wisdom held by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. Through this Movement we are changing the narrative around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander child-rearing practices.

Another key initiative in the final stages of planning is round two of Growing up in Queensland. This project is designed to hear from young Queenslanders, aged between 4 and 18 years about their views and opinions on growing up in their communities, what big issues are important to them and of course their hopes and dreams for the future. 

Round one of Growing Up in Queensland was completed in 2018. Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon and Senior Advisor Dr Andrea Kittila presented on the findings from round one, with a particular focus on results from North Queensland. 


Andrew Fuller

Andrew Fuller, as a clinical psychologist, aims to create with people, futures they can fall in love with. His work with over 2,000 schools and with more than 500,000 young people has identified the concept of The Resilient Mindset and also the three main components of resilience- connect, protect and respect (CPR). 

Andrew is a Fellow at the University of Melbourne and has been a scientific consultant for the ABC. He is an ambassador for Adolescent Success, the Lion’s Club Alcohol and Drug Awareness Foundation and Mind Matters. He has also been a principal consultant to the Dept. Education Bully Stoppers initiative and the national drug prevention strategy REDI, and is a regular presenter on Radio National. 

Andrew’s research on neuro-developmental differentiation takes the research on resilience and positive education back into the classroom where it can make the most difference. 

His website, My Learning Strengths enables people to complete a free assessment of their learning strengths. Andrew has established programs for neuroscience and education and the promotion of mental health in schools, substance abuse prevention, and the reduction of violence and bullying, suicide prevention programs and for assisting homeless young people. Andrew continues to counsel people. 

Andrew’s most recent books include “The Revolutionary Art of Changing Your Heart”, “Your Best Life at Any Age” and “Neuro-developmental Differentiation- The Science of Effective learning”. Andrew is also the author of “Unlocking Your Child’s Genius” published in ten languages, TRICKY KIDS, twenty languages, Tricky Teens, “Life: A Guide”, Tricky People, Guerilla Tactics For Teachers, The Brain Based Learning E-Manual and Beating Bullies.

Andrew Fuller’s presentation was entitled Young People: From Surviving to Thriving.

Andrew Fuller’s presentation summary (PDF, 74.09 KB)
John Gibson

John Gibson is a Gumbaynggirr man from Nambucca Heads on the mid North Coast of NSW. John is one of the QFCC’s principal advisors rolling out the Families are First movement, an initiative celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. 

Families are First celebrates over 60,000 years of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parenting wisdom. The QFCC is invested in exploring, celebrating and sharing these stories. This presentation explained you how you can assist. 

Jane Reid lives in Brisbane but has strong family ties to Cairns and Townsville and has recently discovered a family relationship with the Kuku Yalangi people from the Cooktown region. Most recently she led the Growing up in Queensland project which heard from more than 7000 young Queenslanders about life in their community, their goals for the future and the issues which worried them. 

John’s and Jane’s presentation was titled ‘Yarning the Good Yarn – Families are First’.

John Gibson’s and Jane Reid’s presentation summary (PDF, 144.46 KB)
Principal Commissioner Cheryl Vardon

Cheryl Vardon is the Queensland Family and Child Commission’s Chief Executive and Principal Commissioner. Cheryl has had a distinguished career as an educator and is recognised for her leadership in the protection of vulnerable children and young people and for Indigenous education. She is an experienced leader of policy implementation and system review and reform. In leading the QFCC, Cheryl plays a key role in the reform of Queensland’s child protection and family support system and champions the needs of all children and families.

Cheryl has held many leadership, board and statutory roles, as a Director-General, Chief Executive, Commissioner and Adjunct Professor, in private, public and not-for-profit organisations, including education departments, children’s services departments, consumer affairs, a national charity, universities, and tribunals. 

Dr Andrea Kittila

Dr Andrea Kittila is a Principal Advisor with the Children and Young People’s Perspectives team at the Queensland Family and Child Commission. She has been with the QFCC since 2014 and is passionate about the use of research to improve outcomes for children and families. 

Her PhD in psychology addressed adult non-suicidal self-harm and its relation to childhood emotional abuse, attachment, and emotion regulation difficulties.

Cheryl’s and Andrea’s presentation was titled Growing up in Queensland.

The Growing up in Queensland project heard from over 7,000 children and young people across the state. This presentation will share what they told us about their communities, the obstacles and supports they experience in achieving their aspirations and the things adults can do to make Queensland an even better place to grow up. 

Cheryl Vardon and Andrea Kittila’s presentation (PDF, 1.43 MB)
Cheryl Vardon’s and Andrea Kittila’s presentation summary (PDF, 130.75 KB)

Mount Isa panel member

Chris Pocock

Chris Pocock arrived in Mount Isa in February 1997 for his first teaching job as a Maths/Science teacher. In that year he taught at what was Kalkadoon SHS, Mount Isa SHS and Cloncurry SS.  He has been at Spinifex State College since its creation in 2003 and is currently the Head of Senior Campus, a position he has held since the start of 2017.  He had to come all the way to Mount Isa to meet a Brisbane girl who he married in 2004 and has two boys aged 11 and almost 13.  Seeing young people Survive and Thrive is important to him.

Tash Hydon

Tash Hydon made Mount Isa her home 18 months ago when she and husband David relocated from Brisbane. Tash has been facilitating, public speaking and hosting events for 25 years throughout Brisbane, Melbourne and regional Queensland. As well as a long career in state and local governments in two states, Tash is also a civil marriage celebrant, line dancer and keen (but less agile) netballer here in Mount Isa.