Therapeutic Programs Coordinator Trek Learning Centre

JOB DESCRIPTION

Organisation overview:

Trek Learning Centre is a not-for-profit organisation working to provide healing and future success for children and young people who are living with the impacts of developmental trauma, significant poor mental health or disability and to provide professional development opportunities to those working alongside vulnerable community cohorts to better meet their needs, support healing and capacity building. 

Trek Learning Centre offers generous salary packaging as well as on-site meals each day. 

Our work takes place in a therapeutic farm environment on Wurundjeri land.

Trek Learning Centre (TLC) is a socially inclusive organisation where the cultures of respect and learning are the fabric of our work. We acknowledge that we connect, work and play on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nations and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We celebrate the offerings of all cultures, beliefs and customs ensuring no harm is done to self or other and welcome all religious beliefs, sexual orientations and identification- we seek to provide a place of cultural and personal safety for all staff, volunteers and program participants.

Trek Learning Centre provides multi-disciplinary approaches to trauma recovery and ill-mental health for children and young people facing significant barriers to engagement, connection or success in education, training, employment, community connection, health and wellbeing. We provide farm-based recovery programs along with individual and group-based therapeutic work, professional development and training and mental health and wellbeing programs throughout the wider community. 

Trek Learning Centre works to address the developmental and neurobiological impacts of trauma from abuse, neglect, violence, harm, substance addiction, ill-mental health & complex disorders or disability impacts within trauma recovery frameworks that are delivered through farming, building, play, bush-craft, permaculture, self-sufficiency, animal therapy, art, blacksmithing, pottery/clay work, individual and group building projects and more. By working with the body, we are able to reduce high cortisol and adrenaline levels in highly aroused and often dysregulated young people, we work to soothe and heal the limbic system with swings, hammocks, and rocking chairs, through the patting/grooming/cuddles and care of animals and rewire neural pathways through cross body work with hand drills/mixers/beaters, wood chopping, wheelbarrowing, balance beams, blacksmithing and more. We build a place of belonging by working with very small groups (between 3 and 8 children/young people in each group) whereby individual needs, barriers and goals can be mapped and met each day without asking those that cannot to ‘behave’ a certain way. We ensure success is experienced every single day so we can work towards reframing strong personal and social narratives around lack that exists with and for our participants.

Our work is with wonderful humans who have often become known as extremely complex, violent, unacceptable, dangerous, weird, exhausting, at-risk, suicidal, self-harming, disruptive, secretive, non-compliant and worse. They are, in-fact resilient, clever, protective, confused, isolated, funny, kind, intuitive, intelligent- and yes- very vulnerable. Our young people have mostly inherited a brain that has experienced developmental change, often in-utero, a brain that has grown to preface threat detection and self-protection over connection, functional memory, calmness or curiosity in order to ensure survival. This has enormous and complex impacts that involve every system in their body as well as the socio-cultural systems they are required to function within.   

Our work is underpinned by attachment and polyvagal theory, proprioceptive, neuro and interoceptive interventions and applied through hands-on experiences at our therapeutic farm. Our work acts as a foundation for scaffolded success- we build next steps for young people carefully and over time to ensure success is cumulative and integrated. 

The Role:

The applicant requires a relevant qualification in youth work, community service, social work, therapeutic modalities, teaching, art therapy or a trade. The TPC will have a demonstrated capacity in working with young people, especially those who are vulnerable and may have developmental trauma impacts, is able to connect easily and can sit comfortably with someone who is in emotional pain.

The successful candidate will provide two referees of professional capacity to speak to their past experience and capability.

The position operates with a three-month probationary period and requires the probationary Therapeutic Program Coordinator to participate in a 6-week and 3-month review prior to the role becoming permanent.

The TPC role requires an individual who works well in a team, who can be relied upon and who works with a deep understanding of the impacts of developmental trauma and the way vulnerable young people respond, connect, protect themselves and learn.

We seek an individual who has deep compassion and who can separate themselves from the reactions, responses or behaviours of the young people we work with.

The TPC role requires someone who can create a felt sense of safety for young people, who can see each individual and respond to them without judgement. We seek a creative individual who can bring excitement and delight to the role and therefore to our young people- someone who can operate outside the box, who can respond to new situations in a dynamic way and who is happy to learn new things alongside our young people.

The TPC has the capacity and experience to hold space for young people within a group work model, delivering programming that is designed to offer opportunities for growth, connection, self-reflection and belonging. 

Therapeutic Program Coordinator:

  • Has a relevant qualification and experience in youth work, psychology, community service, teaching, social work or other therapeutic modalities such as art therapy or trade-based capabilities with a desire to change fields of work.
  • Has a valid WWC and can complete a National Police Check. 
  • Has strong understanding of the impacts of developmental trauma on the growth and development of children and young people’s neurobiology, nervous systems, behaviours and capabilities or the ability to be trained in this area over a 12-month period.
  • Understands and has clinical or practical experience working with children and young people with complex needs, who have a wide range of impacts due to trauma and or disability and who have complex behaviours that are a result of developmental trauma- or- has extensive experience in the building trades and is able to run small, individual as well as large group projects over a school term. 
  • Has a strong understanding of Polyvagal Theory, social engagement systems and the impacts of vocal tone, facial expression and posture on vulnerable children and young people. The role of the TPC is to build a sense of felt safety that supports the development of healthy attachment systems and therefore rapport, trust and healing for each participant.  
  • Has case management experience, including sitting on care teams as an advocate for vulnerable young people, case noting, can develop next step pathways for children and young people and has strong communication skills with all stakeholders involved with a child/young person
  • Can manage sometimes tricky situations with young people without inflaming them but rather turning them into a positive and successful experience whereby the young person is not punished for a biological response but rather supported through it with a reparative result that ensures the building or extension of felt safety, strengthened trust and belonging, broken down shame, co-regulation and neurobiological healing.
  • Is able work with one to three young people at a time in a caring, attentive and inclusive manner. Able to manage small groups with tasks and build social cohesion & connection whilst achieving a task (ie/cooking lunch, cleaning up, building, seed raising, harvesting or planting, animal care etc). Can keep track of mood and sense individual needs and group dynamics, understands where additional support from the broader team may be required in order to ensure young people feel safe, connected and successful.
  • Has the capacity to work within a team to build and deliver group work programming meeting the needs of young people experiencing ill-mental health, entering young-adulthood, exploring life and sexuality and much more as well as delivering professional training for others working with children and young people.
  • Understands the labour of the role and actively participates in all aspects of set up, work requirements with children and young people and end-of-day pack down. Does not ‘gender’ roles and is active in seeing what needs to be done and doing it.
  • Understands and participates in the diverse daily WHS identification and actively highlights and remedies where possible any risk, hazards or threats in the workspace.
  • Is able to complete a full school term prior to resignation in practical and reasonable situations in order to maintain continuity, safety and reduce further loss for our vulnerable participants.

Key responsibilities and duties

  • Safe and best work practices- demonstrating strong leadership for all participants to learn from. Safety is our primary objective- this includes emotional safety and wellbeing, safe workspaces, correct PPE is used, work area safety checks undertaken weekly, education of all participants on safe practices. Safe practices must be demonstrated and led at all times 
  • Development & implementation of term projects both individually and in a group context with an understanding of time frames, required materials, risks/hazards and desired outcomes in the context of participants.
  • Maintaining an emotionally safe environment for young people who have experienced trauma, may have personal and structural barriers, who may have significant shame or feelings of insecurity, who may be substance users and who may have a range of difficult presentations of behaviour.
  • To work as a connected team member with all other staff and volunteers ensuring effective and useful programs are delivered that meet the individual needs of all participants.
  • To be aware of what is happening on-site in a wider context, to support other staff, seek personal support if required, 
  • Keep track of how participants are travelling, build relationships, resilience & capacity with our young people and show up for and reflect positive regard to our young people- all day, every day.
  • To undertake training that is required by Trek Learning Centre to further strengthen skills and capacity in delivering effective programs for vulnerable young people through a therapeutic, trauma recovery lens.
  • To case manage each young person as an individual- seeking to meet their needs, to record data and information correctly, develop next step pathways, to fiercely advocate within care team systems for the child or young person. 
  • To contribute to or actively provide reports to relevant agencies in regard to trauma impacts for individual children and young people, recommendations, trauma recovery responses at Trek and areas of evolution, strength and success for participants.
  • Participation in all planning days, training and term preparation.