Seasons for Growth Children & Young People's Program

The Seasons for Growth Children and Young People's program is a small-group evidence-based education program for children and young people aged 6-18 years.

How does Seasons for Growth work?

Seasons for Growth is a small group education program that supports children and young people to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to understand and respond well to experiences of change, loss and grief.

Seasons for Growth supports children and young people who have experienced change and loss, including, although not limited to friendship changes; family separation; loss or death of someone they care about; loss of a pet; relocation and forced migration; living away in out of home care; physical or mental illness; or impacts of war, terrorism or pandemics. We suggest that children and young people impacted by bereavement wait 6-12 months before participating in a Seasons for Growth program.

What are the learning outcomes for children and young people?

Seasons for Growth supports connection with others going through similar circumstances, fostering emotional literacy and resilience as a pathway to improved social and emotional wellbeing. Specifically, the program provides a safe learning environment for children and young people to:

  • Acknowledge their experiences and recognise they are ‘not the only one’
  • Understand that their feelings and other behavioural reactions are normal
  • Develop skills for coping, positive choices, goal-setting and decision making
  • Build a peer support network and a felt sense of belonging and connection
  • Help restore self-confidence, self-esteem and self-respect

How is the Seasons for Growth program delivered?

Trained facilitators known as "Companions" deliver the program for small groups of 4-7 children and young people aged 6 -18 years. The like-to-like peer learning process creates a safe space for children and young people to practice new ways of thinking and responding to the change and loss that has occurred in their lives.

Seasons for Growth has four age-appropriate levels:

  • Level 1 (ages 6-8 years)
  • Level 2 (ages 9-10 years)
  • Level 3 (ages 11-12 years)
  • Level 4 (ages 13-18 years)

The program includes eight formal sessions (40-50 minutes per session); one celebration session; and one optional reconnector session where participants can meet again to review their learning and discuss any issues that may have arisen since they completed the program. Each participant is provided with an activity journal to explore and complete throughout their Seasons for Growth journey.

The small group program is not designed to be used in one-on-one counselling, or as a whole class program.

What do I need to deliver the Seasons for Growth program?

Companions trained in the program are often professionals such as teachers, social workers, counsellors, psychologists, mental health workers, chaplains or those working in pastoral care.

Companions attend ten-hours of training which involves engaging with the evidence and theoretical foundations underpinning the program; and exploring the program content via an ‘inside out’ approach that immerses Companions in the key learning outcomes and activities. Trained Companions are supported with a comprehensive set of materials including manuals and participant journals and access to an online portal offering additional resources, networking opportunities and support.

What are the steps to implement Seasons for Growth?

To facilitate a Seasons for Growth small group program, you must first attend our training. The following steps provide a guide to implementing the program in your community. Our team will support you along your Seasons for Growth journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

We offer two-day online training workshops to upskill professionals who seek to companion Seasons for Growth. Please view our training page or contact us if you would like to arrange onsite group training for your school or organisation. Find out more information here.

Yes. When completing the training workshop, facilitators will be provided with an instructional manual and a set of journals that will support the delivery of Seasons for Growth for children and young people aged 6-18 years.  Prior to commencing a group, Companions will need to ensure they have the journals for the small group participants. The journals are available on our resources page.

As a trained Companion, you are supported with a comprehensive set of materials including manuals and participant journals and access to an online portal, implementation planning, communities of practice and professional development.  All Companions are encouraged to seek formal program accreditation which requires them to not only train but also to implement the program, attend a supplementary learning session and submit participant and self-evaluations.

Working in close partnership with Professor Anne Graham AO, from the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University, additional resources have been developed to support communities.  Please visit the resources page of the website to access these flyers, tip sheets and videos.

Working in close partnership with Professor Anne Graham AO from the Centre for Children and Young People at Southern Cross University and specialist agencies, Seasons for Growth has been adapted to support children and young people around identified needs including:

  1. Suicide postvention (the adaptation was supported by Headspace Schools, 2015)
  2. Forced migration in partnership with the National Association for Loss and Grief and STARTTS - NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors, 2011
  3. Out-of-home care – with MacKillop Family Services - 2020
  4. Natural disasters Stormbirds program – 2009, 2020
  5. Pandemics- 2020.

The MacKillop Seasons programs have supported more than 400,000 children, young people and adults in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Wales.  An extensive evidence base for the efficacy of the programs has been established through high-quality research, evaluations, practitioner generated evidence and participant feedback throughout the history of the programs. Find out more information here.

The Children and Young Peoples program is recognised in evidence-based program directories with the Australian Government’s Australian Institute of Family Studies – Communities for Children Facilitating Partners Evidence-based programme profiles.

In 2019, the program was recognised with a ‘high impact’ rating in the in Australian Research Council’s Engagement and Impact Assessment 2018–19 National Report and in Research Impact NSW report by the NSW Education Department.

Yes. Stormbirds and the Seasons for Growth Children and Young Peoples programs are recognised as evidence-based programs in the state education wellbeing directories in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

MacKillop Seasons provides the training required for Companions to deliver our small group programs. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide details of where and when these groups are held, and we encourage you to enquire at your child’s school.

Stories and Outcomes

I loved the different seasons and how they can relate to losing someone


Our People

Fiona Hart

Fiona Hart

Master Trainer

Louise Hall

Louise Hall

National and International Partnerships Lead

Mandy Cox

Mandy Cox

Partnerships and Program Coordinator

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Fiona McCallum

Fiona McCallum

General Manager – Seasons for Growth Suite of Programs, Stormbirds, Seasons for Healing

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