At QPASTT, we organise groups to come together on a regular basis to socialise, participate in joint activities, psycho-education information sessions and learn new skills, talk over problems and discuss coping strategies through therapeutic groups.
The experiences that refugees have may make them fearful or suspicious. When torture and trauma survivors come together in safe groups, they are able to learn to trust again. They can make friends, support one another, learn together and share their grief. In addition, group members can benefit from the experiences and insights of other group members and approach counsellors for advice and assistance in an informal manner.
Many newly arrived refugee communities are unfamiliar with western notions of individual counselling. Attending groups can be a much more comfortable way for members of those communities to seek help.
We run regular groups that are open to external referrals and some that are only open to those engaged with a counsellor or other therapeutic QPASTT programs. We use interpreters in our groups as required and child care is available in some groups on request.
A range of skill development, psycho-educational, practical, therapeutic and creative workshops are run on a needs basis, with an aim to build the resilience and capacity of children affected by significant losses and trauma. Groups are run at QPASTT, in schools, or in community settings by children’s counsellors and sometimes in partnership with schools, community organisations and community leaders.
Some groups are open and social but most are closed and focus on the therapeutic needs of those children who are receiving counselling from QPASTT. The group work therefore supports the individual counselling goals of healing.
In running groups, we have an attention to process so that as we work, we learn about particular cultures, different needs and presentations and collective ways of healing so we can, incorporate this learning into our new work and practice. This is done through consultation and negotiation with carers, Principals at different schools and community leaders.
We have run play based group therapy programs, narrative based programs and skill development workshops. In working with traumatised children we are purposeful about safety and use an experiential learning approach
We are currently partnering with M & B Entertainment, Child and Youth Mental Health Services (CYMHS) and identified schools with a large percentage of children from a refugee background, to deliver workshops that support individual counselling and provide skill development. For example using a modified version of the ‘Tree of Life’ enables a narrative tool to be used as a safe way to tell a story through the use of metaphors. This is a safe way for children to learn strategies for empathy and self-regulation.
Groups for Young people
We often use group activities to connect with young people such as open activities like school holiday activities, camps and homework support. This sometimes leads to individual counselling. We also run closed therapeutic groups that that are tailored and targeted to specific needs, usually partnering with schools and/or other community organisations.
Some of the groups for young people that have been run include:
UCAN2 – A program designed for 18-24 year olds and who are completing their English Certificates, which focuses on employability skills combined with emotional wellbeing and increasing meaningful connections.
Young Men’s Group – A group for unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable young men which aimsto increase connectedness and strengthen social skills through organised recreational activities. The activities also provide the participants with the opportunity to become familiar with various local sporting and recreational sites and develop stronger networks in their wider communities. This is predominantly a Logan based program.
Girls’ Group – A group which offers an innovative and safe therapeutic space for isolated and vulnerable young women within diverse refugee communities. Some of the topics discussed are about breaking isolation and connecting with each other, self-care and psycho-education about menstruation, self-esteem and self-image, addressing bullying and sharing cultural practices and skills for building resilience, as well as having fun.
Karate – A group run in partnership with Okukan Karate School which helps young women develop their fitness, focus, concentration and self-confidence.
Youth Voice – A self-nominated committee of young people (aged 15 to 24 years) from many different backgrounds, but most of whom are from a refugee background, called the ‘Youth Voice’ Committee. This group of young people work on issues that are important to them to such as employment, mental health and raising awareness around issues of discrimination, racism and bullying.
We run many different groups with adults, at different times, depending on their needs and particular presentations, and tailor each program to those needs.
We currently run two weekly multicultural wellbeing groups; Women’s Space and X-Men. Both are gender specific groups that undertake a variety of activities that build supportive relationships, while learning new skills.
X-Men, run in partnership with Multicultural Development Association, aims to bring men together in a supportive environment focused on health and fitness, while Women’s Space focuses more on craft, gentle exercise and self-care. Both groups take a break over the school holidays. We work with interpreters where appropriate and child care is available for these groups on request.
Across cultures, all parents want their children to be safe and secure with access to education, housing and health care, so they can grow into responsible, respectful citizens. As part of our support for families, we facilitate specialist parenting discussion groups, family fun days and community information sessions for families.
Parenting Groups and information sessions provide opportunities for families to consider their new environment and its potential impact on family relationships and provide a safe place for parents to share ideas, develop skills, ask questions and gain information about Australian resources and systems.
We often hold these sessions in local areas and neighborhood venues which also provide a way for families to find out how they can participate in and contribute to the local community. We work with interpreters where appropriate and child care is available for these groups on request.
The aims of these groups is to support families to maintain positive and supportive relationships, prevent family breakdown and to encourage connections through group activities and facilitated referrals to relevant agencies. These groups are different from mainstream parenting groups as they consider the impact of settlement and support those who have experienced disruption to family life due to conflict and trauma.
QPASTT works in close collaboration with a wide range of government and non-government organisations including schools, Neighborhood Centers, Child Safety, GP’s, specialist Child Youth and Mental Health Services, community groups and cultural leaders.
The FICT (Families in Cultural Transition) Program is a series of workshops adapted from the program designed by the NSW Services for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) to help newly arrived refugees learn about Australia and settle successfully in their new country.
As well as finding out about Australian culture and systems, participants can talk about how their torture and trauma experiences may affect them and their families. Participants also learn about organisations that can help. We work closely with an interpreter to deliver these sessions and often have child care available. The topics we cover can be tailored to group needs. Participants for these groups do not require a referral but are usually invited through community links.
We currently run this program on request, generally from community leaders. These groups are often run on weekends and outside work hours to enable communities to participate. If requesting a group, we usually prefer that there are no more than 3 language groups.
Asylum Seeker Groups
We currently run a regular weekly ‘Friday Social Group’ for asylum seekers who are currently receiving or on the waiting list for counselling, to provide individuals and families living in the community with opportunities for meaningful social engagement, physical activity and, where necessary, incidental counselling. Some of the activities we have tried so far include ten pin bowling, rock climbing, kayaking, tennis, yoga, swimming, volleyball and bushwalking day trips. Based on his experience of connectedness within this group, one of our participants has suggested that we “please change the name of QPASTT to ‘House of Hope’.
This group is only open to current QPASTT clients. If you want to discuss participation in this group further, please Contact Us and speak to the Asylum Seeker Support Team coordinator.
Request a Group from QPASTT
We like to partner with locally based organisations, schools and agencies on request and we negotiate these partnerships, depending on our current client needs and worker availability.
We can also run one off sessions for your clients (if primarily from refugee background). These sessions are designed to help people of refugee background understand the impact of trauma and settlement on mental health, stress, wellbeing, parenting and family functioning. We have developed culturally sensitive approaches to discuss these topics with this client group.
Workshops may incur a fee and this will be advised if accepted.
If you are interested in requesting a once off or series of group workshops, fill in a Group Facilitation Request Form