Carer Retreat at Peppers Findon

Peppers Findon Carer Retreat ~ May 2021

 

image

Foster Care Association Victoria (FCAV ) with support from Carer Kafe, facilitated its first in person Carer Retreat in many months, at the beautiful Peppers Moonah Links Resort in Findon, approximately 1 ¼ hours out of Melbourne on the Mornington Peninsula in May 2021.

 

The two-day Carer Retreat aimed to support and celebrate the resilience of carers and provide an opportunity to reflect on their caring journey through shared learning and networking. Carers participated in the professional development sessions. The Carer Retreat focused on self-care to enhance their feelings of safety, health and happiness through a variety of practices including mindfulness.

 

Twenty-five foster and kinship carers attend and included in the group were 7 couples who really appreciated the opportunity to come together from a variety of agencies including Anchor, Anglicare, Berry Street, Life without Barriers, MDAS, Oz Child, Uniting and VACCA, with one carer travelling 6 hours to attend.

 

We started Day one with a Welcome to Country by Uncle Lionel Lauch, a proud Gunditjmara Kirrae Wurrung-Bundjalung man who has resided on the Peninsula since he was 6 years old. Even as a child he was drawn to exploring the land and natural environment and developed a deep connection to his culture. Lionel has a passion for expanding and sharing his vast knowledge of cultural practises, stories, production of artefact’s and traditional tools, bush foods and medicines, healing, building practises, artworks, music, dance, traditional ceremonies and contemporary engagement programs.

 

Uncle Lionel also stated that to learn all the traditional plant names and benefits of the plants it took him 5 years. He has used this knowledge to assist his work with young people in care who have drug, alcohol, and mental health issues. He loves being able to provide cultural experiences to help others, so that they understand their culture and benefit from it.

 

Over the two days Joanie Bartolo, principal consultant of Emotion Wise ran training on Emotional Intelligence and Managing Anger which was very well received by many carers. One carer had previously completed this training but stated she learnt even more from this presentation especially around managing anger in children. One of the teachings from Joanie was that anger is an emotion but you need to decide on the type of person you want to be which includes whether you be the boss of your anger or whether you want it to be the boss of you and this is a great way to explain this to a child in care when they are not managing their emotions.

As part of our self-care sessions we included meditation, mindfulness, a head and neck massage and a mindful art session. 

 

Carers painted in watercolour to focus more on the process and without any judgement. They started with one colour and drew a pattern across their paper repeatedly and reported it was very relaxing as they gained confidence and would try this with the child in their care. They loved the massage as well. Retreat

 

Many found the walking meditation very helpful as did those who joined the raisin practice.  Overall carers really enjoyed the opportunity to mix with each other and we developed a tip sheet using their information in order to provide a list of helpful websites and emotional regulation tools they had found very helpful such as Emotion Flip charts:  

https://www.thecoffeeapple.com.au/products/feelingsflips

 

 One carer wrote:

Learned a lot, I will use the training to improve our lives and wellbeing”

In answering the question about whether the training gave carers new tools and or skills to  better support the child/young person in their care, 61.9% stated they strongly agreed and the remaining 38.1% stated they agreed so a very positive result.

Another stated: “I came to the retreat very tired and emotionally weary. The training, meditations and food were great but would have loved more time to connect deeper with carers and more time on cultural training or a cultural experience. “