Gunawirra holds annual seminars aimed at providing education and skills development in the areas of substance abuse, domestic violence, trauma, suicide and the clinical skills needed in working with severly traumatized clients. The seminars are attended by community, welfare and health professionals from Sydney and regional areas.


Gunawirra Seminar 2015: Seminar and Book Launch of “Transgenerational Trauma and the Aboriginal Preschool Child – Healing through Intervention” 

Book Launch V1

Date: Friday 13th March, 2015

Venue: DLA Piper, Level 24, 1 Martin Place, Sydney

This will be a full day seminar on healing trauma for Aboriginal children aged 3 to 5 years, as discussed in the book.


Graham Toomey (welcome to Country), Paul Davis, Marilyn Charles, Celia Connolly, Donna Jacobs, Cate Osborn, Norma Tracey and Judy King, Dr. Anne Marie Swan and Professor Marie Bashir.


9.00 Welcome to country – Graham Toomey

9.25 Norma Tracey chair introduces theme for the day. What is trauma for the aboriginal child ? What is healing about ?

9.45 Keynote speaker – Marilyn Charles Trauma & Resilience for Aboriginal Families and their children

10.30 Q&A

10.40 Morning Tea

11.00 Working with a group of Aboriginal mothers and New Born infants. Donna Jacobs

11.45 Working with Aboriginal mother’s group and their active toddlers to 4 year olds. Cate Osborn

12.30 Lunch

1.15 My experiences of working with Trauma in preschools. Five Big Ideas. Norma Tracey

1.45 Seeing Traumatised preschool children in therapy. Celia Connolly and Judy King

2.45 Groups session

3.00 Afternoon tea

3.30 All about the book. Dr. Anne Marie Swan

4.00 Book Launch. Professor Marie Bashir

4.30 Cocktails and finger food and socializing

5.30 Conclusion

This is our first book, written on Gunawirra work. It is also a first psychoanalytically informed book on working with Aboriginal preschool children and is the outcome of years of thought and work by us professionals, psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic therapists. Please join us for a wonderful afternoon. Our book will be launched by Professor Marie Bashir and Dr Anne Marie Swan President of NSWIPP.

Gunawirra Seminar 2014: A TIME FOR CARING
Seminar Graham_Page_3

Date: 21st to 22nd August 2014
Location: Aboriginal Centre of Excellence, Redfern, Sydney

Come and join us, and our experts from Australia, and
our wonderful friends from USA and New Zealand for two
days of learning, sharing and caring.

Caring for yourself as a Professional,
Caring about engaging and supporting parents,
Caring about our preschool children

Please contact Andrea at [email protected] or on 0403 945087 and book right now.

More information on our 2014 seminar will follow soon.


Gunawirra seminar series 2012

In 2012 Gunawirra, an organisation of professional Aboriginal and non Aboriginal workers presented four sessions at the Burwood RSL at 96 Shaftesbury Road Burwood from 10am to 3.30pm.
These four sessions form an integrated series and it is preferred and encouraged that participants attend the complete program. Each session will have a strong interactive component with ample opportunity for discussion and exploration. We see this as our way of shining some light into dark places; as having the courage to share scars and failures and to forge a better way forward for us coal-face workers and our clients.

Session 1: Drug and alcohol abuse
Thursday 23rd February 2012
Presenter: Cate Osborn
Drug and alcohol abuse has far reaching effects on individuals and families. It impacts on physical and emotional well-being and the effects reach down through the generations. Workers with drug and alcohol clients can face enormous challenges in dealing with frightening and self-destructive behaviour.
– How do we understand addiction?
– What are the impacts on individuals, their partners and their children?
Drug and alcohol abuse is seen as symptomatic of deeper psychological distress. These things will be explored through theory, case examples and group discussion.

Cate Osborn is a psychotherapist and accredited mental health social worker.
She has over 20 years experience in the drug and alcohol field, including work as a counsellor in a methadone clinic and management of a community drug and alcohol team, providing clinical services to drug and alcohol clients and their families, clinical and educative work with dual diagnosis clients and consultation to health professionals. She has trained community groups and health professionals in HIV prevention education, taught in the Advanced Certificate in Alcohol and other Drug Studies at TAFE and conducted seminars and training sessions for professionals working with drug and alcohol clients.

Session 2  Domestic Violence
Friday April 27th 2012
Professor Carolyn Quadrio 10.00 –12.00
Like child abuse, domestic violence or intimate partner violence (IPV) is common and is possibly increasing – certainly rates of reporting are
increasing. It is common and is both under reported and poorly diagnosed by mental health clinicians. Associated psychiatric morbidity is high for victims and their children. The intense nature of the bond between these partners is often enduring in spite of serious abuse. Attachment theory provides a coherent and well researched basis for the behaviour of those, mostly women and children, who remain in abusive relationships. The concept of traumatic attachment is central to understanding these apparently paradoxical behaviours.
This presentation will examine the nature of traumatic attachments, including that described as the Domestic Stockholm Syndrome. Clinical material will be used to illustrate.

Chris Burke and the Yarramundi Kids –Strong, smart and deadly! 1.00 –3.30

The famous Kids (puppets) will join us for an afternoon that focuses on working with a practical framework for child protection intervention with Aboriginal families and indeed any family experiencing both domestic violence and child abuse.
This workshop is for workers in the community or education family support workers, refuge workers, school counselors domestic violence liaison workers etc. who work with domestic violence.

Session 3: Trauma in Infancy and Early Childhood
Friday 10.00. am–, 29th June 2012
Presenter: Norma Tracey
This seminar creates discussion around one of the most important problems facing any health professional working at the coalface. How do we recognise trauma in the infant, the toddler, the Pre-school child? How are an infant or preschool child’s physical, psychological and mental faculties affected by early trauma? How does the child respond to it in their body and in their psyche? How do we respond as professionals to help the parent, the teacher, the friend, the partner to intervene in a way that will prevent or undo harm? Trauma interferes with a child’s capacity to learn from experiences, trauma creates a vacuum where imagination could be, where play could enact his inner world, where learning as a pleasurable part of living could occur.

Neural and emotional pathways set from earliest times create continuing patterns, both for good and bad. We take not only our bad ghosts but our good angels from the nursery to the rest of our lives. Can not only the brain, but the psyche truly reinvent itself in a way that can manage trauma and be released form it by means of good experiences.

Learning from the most ancient forms of the Dreaming and the Dadirri circle we overcome and prevent early childhood trauma. We talk together about the meaning of counselling for parents, but we talk too about the use the mediums of play and art, music and dance for our little Aboriginal children who have already suffered so much pain in their short lives.

This lecture /workshop has a one hour seminar in the morning and workshop discussion for an hour. Then a one hour seminar in the afternoon with an hours discussion. We will make use of real examples from preschool children that will enlighten and inform us.
(The material of this workshop is taken from the chapter written by Norma Tracey, “The Importance of ‘Deep Soul Listening’ in “Psychodynamic Perspectives”, edited by Michael O’Loughlin, Psychoanalyst, Professor of Education at Adelphi University in New York. Aronson NY 2012.)

Session 4: Trauma
Wednesday 29th August
Norma Tracey
This seminar will have a didactic morning session and interactive workshop – The afternoon will be a didactic session followed by an interactive workshop.
– What is trauma?
– What are the physical components of trauma?
– What happens to our psyche in trauma?
– What do we mean by transgenerational trauma?
– What is the meaning of cultural dislocation?
– What is the underlying meaning of loss and bereavement for a people who have so much to mourn?
– An in-depth view on Aboriginal suicide!
– How do we handle trauma at the coal face?
– Treating trauma!
– The effects of trauma on the worker!