Karen’s PhD is titled, "And it's Not History. It's Now: Embedding a Trauma Framework into the Practice of Welfare Practitioners who work with Aboriginal Families in the NSW Child Protection Sector". Karen is an Indigenous Australian woman from the Wonnarua people in the Hunter Valley, in New South Wales (NSW). Karen worked as a social worker on the Stolen Generations Inquiry at the Australian Human Rights Commission, where she was witness to hundreds of very personal and painful testimonies from Indigenous Australians who had been forcibly removed from their families.
Between 2009-2018, Karen worked as a full-time academic at the Wollotuka Institute and School of Medicine and Public Health, at the University of Newcastle. She continues to work casually in academia with the School of Social Work and at the Wollotuka Institute at Newcastle University. Karen also works as a Social Work Consultant developing policy, designing curriculum, delivering training, and conducting research with education, health, legal and welfare organisations and practitioners across NSW. Karen is the author of several international and national peer reviewed publications on trauma.
Karen and her family have extensive experience as respite carers. She understands the need to care and protect children while also being inclusive of and valuing the children’s family to ensure children and young people feel safe, secure, loved and nurtured by everyone.
Dr. Karen Menzies
From the age of 15 Michelle Foster has worked with kids and community, this passion and commitment has grown and sustained Michelle the 25 years she has worked in the community sector.
This work has included time working for leading NGO’s, known for her innovative and creative ways of supporting and working with community to utilized their cultural strength to generate Aboriginal solutions to generate the best outcomes for kids, families and communities.
Michelle was introduced to the Winangay carer assessment tool in 2011 and from that moment, grew a passion, to be part of the change and innovation which she knew was so desperately needed. Working alongside the Winangay team in training and undertaking assessments Michelle introduced the Winangay tools to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal service providers.
Respected across the sector Michelle runs her own consultancy and is a skilled, respectful and inclusive facilitator. Often asked to conduct complex challenging assessments Michelle has used the Winangay tools to hear the voice of kids, families and communities, telling their stories their way and together compelling evidence to support her decision making. At every step along the way Michelle has embedded Aboriginal Family led decision making so as to ensure kids are safe with family, raised in culture and on country.
The founder of Ngaramura Indigenous Corporation she works closely with young Aboriginal, Maori and Pacific Islander children and young people in community, and their families. Her mission is clear, Strengthening our children and young people’s culture and identities in partnership with families and communities. Strong Identities, Safe Families and Love in Culture.
Wade Mahoney is a Barkindji man originally from Broken Hill, who has been living on Wannaruah land in the upper region of the Hunter Valley in NSW with his family for the past 18 years.
Wade has worked within the Child Protection and Out of Home Care sector for almost 24 years and is currently the Operations Manager of the Permanency Support Program for an Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisation called Wandiyali in the Newcastle area.
Wade’s previous experiences include frontline Child Protection and Out of Home Care Casework, Managing Child Protection and OOHC teams for the NSW Department of Community Services, establishing and developing an Intensive Family Based Service, NSW State-wide capacity building practitioner for AbSEC, National Practice Advisor-Reconciliation and Child and Family for Life Without Barriers, training and staff development for various non-government services providers nationally.
Wade’s focus and passion has always been to support practitioners to be their best selves while remaining focussed on the child’s experience of the care sector.
Wade is often heard saying to caseworks and managers “As adults we can change careers our workplaces or our lives as many times a we choose before it all ends, but our kids only get one chance at being kids. Our role is to help them to create memories worth sharing when they are adults”
Winangay Public Officer
Paula Hayden (MSW) has extensive experience of working with children and families with multiple and complex needs. Paula is experienced and insightful clinician Paula worked as a Senior Social Worker at the specialist Child Protection Unit in Westmead Children’s Hospital NSW. One of only two specialist units in the state Paula worked in a multidisciplinary team which included medical professionals and senior social workers. Paula undertook complex assessments, for courts and the Department of Communities and Justice, and refined her clinical skills working with children and families who had experienced intergenerational trauma and abuse. It was in this context Paula developed innovative resources which promoted a trauma informed collaborative approach which focussed on children’s safety, recovery and healing.
Paula has co-authored a range of resources which have had national application.
A founding member of Winangay Resources, Paula was a major contributor in the development of the award winning, trauma informed, culturally safe, and strength-based tools. She has worked alongside First Nations Elders, Consultants, workers and kids to develop resources which embed stronger ways of working, and reflect First Nations people’s knowledge, expertise and resilience.
Paula has consulted for jurisdictions and NGOs across Australia. Published nationally and internationally, Paula has presented a numerous conference in Australia (SNAICC, Child Aware, ACWA) and at the International Conferences, Dublin, London, Vancouver, and in Edinburgh alongside Professor Fiona Arney Director Australian Centre for Child Protection.
Burramatagal country (Parramatta NSW) has been the country Paula has been privileged to live and work, raise her kids on for 30 years. This is the country that keeps her strong and she loves to walk on.
Kim Squires has over twenty-five years’ experience in business management and administration. Kim is married to a proud Darug man. Kim and her husband were both raised and still live on Dharawal Country (Illawarra Region).
Kim has two children and her husband has seven and collectively they have over twenty grandchildren. Kim and her husband have been passionate and tireless advocates for Aboriginal children and believe children are always better off with family. Kim and her husband are currently kinship carers. Kim’s family were assessed by an independent assessor who used the Winangay Aboriginal kinship carer assessment tool.
As a kinship carer Kim’s knowledge extends to all aspects of the out-of-home care sector and the need to remain child focussed especially during the stressful periods of family contact and court hearings. Kim recognises there are some highs and lows to being a kinship grandparent but to witness her grandchild learn trust and love again and to see her thrive in safe and protective environment makes it all worthwhile.
Kim’s extensive carer knowledge and valuable insights were soon recognised by the Winangay team, and she was appointed to the position of treasurer earlier this year. Kim is committed to the ongoing development of the Winangay tools and resources.
Kim likes to spend time with her family and is a ‘would be’ artist, she has been painting and drawing for the past three years and loves to encourage and draw with her grand-kids and other children.