The impact of the MacKillop Seasons programs is demonstrated through evidence. We consistently seek to evolve our programs to meet the ongoing needs for loss and grief in communities in Australia and internationally. Our program development is based on the latest evidence, and our evaluations provide rich information detailing the positive findings over the last twenty-five years.
Evaluation Report Seasons for Healing
The Seasons for Healing program was evaluated by Dr Keith Miller and Mr Michael Bull from the School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University.
The Seasons for Healing program was evaluated by Dr Keith Miller and Mr Michael Bull from the School of Social and Policy Studies, Flinders University in June 2014. A steering committee oversaw the development of Seasons for Healing between 2011 and 2014. An Advisory group was instrumental in providing leadership to the project and effectively and sensitively adapting the Seasons for Growth program into an Indigenous context to create Seasons for Healing. A pilot phase was conducted in 2012. Following changes recommended by the evaluation team, an implementation phase was conducted from late 2012 and into 2014. The evaluators were included from the beginning in the advisory group and this meant that they were given insight and perspective into the program which led to a more beneficial evaluation outcome. Primarily, the Seasons for Healing program meets the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation National Performance Indicators, and in particular the National Outcomes of: Strengthened social, spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing Strengthened connection to culture Strengthened cultural identity and pride (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation, 2011) For this, the Aboriginal Family Support Services SA and Good Grief (now MacKillop Seasons) are to be congratulated. In particular, it can be said of the Seasons for Healing program that: The National Performance Indicators for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Healing Foundation have been met and the program is considered to be culturally safe for companions and participants. The development of the Program in 2011 by the advisory group was conducted openly and ethically with a high regard for the cultural and emotional well-being of companions and participants. The research phase was conducted in close consultation with the advisory group and the Indigenous people with an emphasis on the educational focus of the program. In the writing and development stage, the program was tightly structured and clearly scaffolded to ensure that the Seasons for Growth remained as the basis for the Seasons for Healing program but that the adaptations were culturally appropriate. °Strong and critical discussion by the advisory group ensured that the aspects of the Seasons for Healing Program discussed in the research phase were translated into the writing and development phase. Feedback from the companions and community members involved in the pilot phase of the program was then communicated to the writers and further alterations were made for the implementation phase. Following the pilot phase, changes were recommended in terms of the program, organisation and training. The advisory group decided on the final changes which would be made for the implementation phase. The implementation phase has been spasmodic in its implementation into communities. According to senior management at AFSS, one significant reason for this was the current workload on staff. An important recommendation to AFSS from the pilot phase of the program was that the training, preparation and delivery of the program be incorporated into the ongoing workload of AFSS staff members. During the implementation phase, AFSS senior management made the decision to do this to enable the Seasons for Healing program to become an ongoing and integral part of the delivery of services for AFSS to Aboriginal communities from 2014. The 'train the trainer' model envisaged an experienced trainer accompanying a new trainer so that the new trainer would receive training on the job. New trainers would be chosen from experienced Companions. The advisory group recognised the significance of implementing this model. The ongoing viability of the Seasons for Healing program in each community will be determined by how well new trainers are engaged. Empowerment evaluation empowers Indigenous communities and participants. Through the activity of evaluation, companions and communities were empowered, the voices were heard and their opinions were respected in developing in the final Seasons for Healing product. This is reflected in the changes made following the pilot phase. The impact of the Seasons Healing program on communities was recognised as being both positive and immediate. The initial apprehension observed with a new program dissipated once community members became involved. Participant groups in every community who were engaged in both the pilot phases became immersed in the program and found it to be a valuable, rewarding and meaningful experience. Many said they would highly recommend it to other members of their communities. No evaluative measures have been made of the long-term benefit to communities. A recommendation is that a further evaluation should occur in due course. Mutual benefits for both Aboriginal Family Support Services and for Good Grief Ltd have occurred. There has been honest interaction within the advisory group and positive feedback from community members provided to Good Grief Ltd in their development of the program. This has been balanced with the expertise around trauma, loss and grief provided by Good Grief Ltd which has been shared with participants. Reflective learnings from the Seasons for Healing program are that AFSS need to incorporate Seasons for Healing into their regular suite of programs and companions need to have done the program as participants before becoming companions. Secondly, the program needs to be integrated into communities so there is a greater acceptance of its validity.
Seasons for Growth Adult program evaluation
The Seasons for Growth Adult program has been evaluated by the NSW Mental Health Association, the University of Central Queensland and Carers NSW.
The Seasons for Growth Adult program has been evaluated by the NSW Mental Health Association (2010), the University of Central Queensland (2008) and Carers NSW (2004). The consistent themes reported by participants in each of the evaluations include: Improved ability to cope with change, loss and griefReduced feeling of isolation Increased self awareness and resilienceReduced stress and tension. Evaluation summaries Mental Health Association, NSW (2010) Dr Deanna Pagnini examined the impact of Seasons for Growth on participants who had experienced significant mental health issues. Findings from the evaluation were very positive. Over 85% of participants felt that Seasons for Growth improved these aspects of their lives: acceptance of letting go of past issues of change, loss and griefcoping with current issues of change, loss and griefunderstanding of the recovery journey, e.g. resilience and empowerment Over 70% experienced significant improvements in their experience of: stress anxiety overall mental health. Participants overwhelmingly reported feeling less isolated, having increased self-awareness and feeling better about themselves. "I am much more able to understand where I am after recent huge losses. I am more accepting of where I am and - the best difference - I am not doing unhealthy or destructive things to mask my feelings. I'm better able to understand where strong feelings fit into the process". University of Central Queensland (2008) With funding from the Department of Health and Ageing, Dr Cecily Knight and Dr Delwyn Goodrick examined the impact the program had on participants and in what ways it assisted them to manage grief and loss. Benefits that the participants reported included: feeling better equipped to prepare for and deal with griefincreased self-awarenessfeeling empowered to go forward and move beyond a difficult pastincreased ability to manage difficult situationsbeing aware and accepting of own needslearning a lot about themselvesreducing their stress levels. 96% of the participants reported having learned how to work through grief and loss. "It didn't just help me with the past. It is helping me with the future as well. I was blessed to be able to let go of resentment that I had held onto for many, many years. I developed tools that helped my recovery." Carers NSW (2004) As part of the Carer's Mental Health Program, and funded by NSW Health, Carers NSW evaluated the Seasons for Growth Adult Program. The results were almost unanimously positive. Key benefits to participants were: becoming more in touch with their feelings confronting painful issues/dealing with grief and loss learning how to cope better. The most important things participants learned centred around forgiving themselves, letting go, and "not beating themselves up" over not being perfect. By the end of the program, the majority of the participants reported significantly lower levels of tension in their relationship with the person they are caring for. "Overall, I feel more competent, therefore more confident and this is already benefiting my family". Carer, 53 years old.
Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds in NSW Department of Education Schools 2020-2021
In 2020/21, Professor Andrew Day and Dr Sharon Casey evaluated the Seasons for Growth Children and Young Peoples and Stormbirds programs.
In 2020/21, Professor Andrew Day and Dr Sharon Casey from the University of Melbourne evaluated the Seasons for Growth Children and Young Peoples and Stormbirds programs. NSW Department of Education professionals were trained to deliver the Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds programs to support the wellbeing of children and young people who had experienced change and to promote the recovery of school communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020. There evaluation found that the program was well-regarded by participants and that children and young people ended the program with greater knowledge and skills about change and loss than they had when they began. The level of satisfaction with both Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds was uniformly high. The high level of parental and Companion satisfaction with the program suggests that meaningful change did occur - at least for some children and young people. It is also worth noting here that satisfaction with the training provided to Companions to deliver both programs was reported to be exceptionally high. By Professor Andrew Day and Dr Sharon Casey Read our program evaluations
2021 Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds in NSW Department of Education Schools 2020-2021
In 2020/21, Professor Andrew Day and Dr Sharon Casey evaluated the Seasons for Growth Children and Young Peoples and Stormbirds programs.
In 2020/21, Professor Andrew Day and Dr Sharon Casey from the University of Melbourne evaluated the Seasons for Growth Children and Young Peoples and Stormbirds programs. NSW Department of Education professionals were trained to deliver the Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds programs to support the wellbeing of children and young people who had experienced change and to promote the recovery of school communities impacted by the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020. There evaluation found that the program was well-regarded by participants and that children and young people ended the program with greater knowledge and skills about change and loss than they had when they began. The level of satisfaction with both Seasons for Growth and Stormbirds was uniformly high. The high level of parental and Companion satisfaction with the program suggests that meaningful change did occur - at least for some children and young people. It is also worth noting here that satisfaction with the training provided to Companions to deliver both programs was reported to be exceptionally high. By Professor Andrew Day and Dr Sharon Casey
2011 Seasons for Growth Child and Young Person program evaluation
In February 2010, Southern Cross University’s Centre for Children and Young People was commissioned to refine the Seasons for Growth existing program evalu
In February 2010, Southern Cross University’s Centre for Children and Young People was commissioned to refine the Seasons for Growth existing program evaluation tools, and to then conduct a large-scale evaluation of the Seasons for Growth Children and Young Peoples program. Written by Dr Sallie Newell and Ms Alison Moss, this report provides an overview of the Seasons for Growth program, describes the tool development and presents the evaluation results from 57 Seasons for Growth groups conducted across three countries. The evaluation concluded that the program does assist children and young people in their efforts to accept their situation, to deal with change and cope with their grief. It also identified that the program supports participants to build their understanding and skills, enhance their wellbeing, express their views, thoughts and feelings and to strengthen their social and support networks. To the best of our knowledge, this 2011 report represented the first large-scale, Australian-based evaluation of a grief and loss program for children and young people; it was certainly the first that can be publicly accessed. By Sallie Newell and Ms Alison Moss
2019 Seasons for Growth Child and Young Person program evaluation
In 2019, the team from James Cook University evaluated the revised Seasons for Growth Child & Young Person program.
In 2019, Professor Andrew Day, Nina Watts-Carrier, Dr Sharon Casey, and Dr Ashlen Francisco from James Cook University evaluated the revised Seasons for Growth Child & Young Person program. The Seasons for Growth program was viewed very positively by all of those who participated in the evaluation. In relation to program design, Companions identified the importance of learning about Worden’s ‘tasks’ and the importance of the ‘seasons’ metaphor (that life changes) in facilitating learning. They also reported that they felt confident in their ability to deliver the program to a high standard. A majority of children and young people who completed the surveys at the end of the program reported that it had helped them ‘a lot’ (the most positive rating possible), and that they enjoyed attending. Many of the parents and carers expressed their gratitude to Companions for providing the opportunity for their child to attend. The warmth with which the Seasons for Growth program was received is reflected in the most common criticism - that the program could not continue for longer. Overall, the results support the suggestion that program attendance is likely to be associated with an improvement in the quality of life of children and young people and that this is maintained after the program has finished. By Prof Andrew Day, Nina Watts-Carrier, Dr Sharon Casey, and Dr Ashlen Francisco
Australian Research Council’s Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018-2019 National Report
Seasons for Growth was featured in the Australian Research Council’s Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018-2019 National Report.
Seasons for Growth was featured in the Australian Research Council’s Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018-2019 National Report. The research received a ‘High’ rating for impact in the National Report, which assesses how institutions are translating their research into economic, environmental, social and other benefits. Overview of Impact Loss experiences are common. Almost one in four Australians aged 18-24 experience divorce or separation of their parents (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010) and 6% experience the death of a parent during childhood (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2013)Professor Anne Graham, Director of the Centre for Children and Young People (CCYP) at Southern Cross University, authored Seasons for Growth to provide children and young people (6-18 years) with knowledge and skills to adapt to significant changes following death, separation, divorce and other loss experiences. Launched in 1996, it is the only such program developed in Australia that is nationally and internationally availableSeasons for Growth is structured around the metaphor of seasonal change. It promotes resilience and self-esteem, normalises grief, builds peer support and fosters positive coping strategiesThe program continues to evolve. Revised in 2015, the updated program synthesised and integrated the findings of much of the CCYP’s research from the preceding decade, including contemporary interdisciplinary understandings of childhood (emphasising children’s agency as well as vulnerability), children’s rights, grief theory, understandings of wellbeing (subjective wellbeing grounded in children’s conceptualisations) and Honneth’s recognition theorySeasons for Growth supports those affected by suicide. In 2015 headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation requested a trial of Seasons for Growth as a suicide postvention resource in schools. CCYP researchers modified the program, and having conducted a successful trial, trained 72 companions and rolled it out into communities across Australia impacted by youth suicideSeasons for Growth provides the Government with a credible program to support children and young people facing loss. While schools were previously the major sites for Seasons for Growth in Australia, 27% of programs are now run through community agencies By the Australian Research Council’s Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018-2019 National Report.