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MacKillop Family Services and Deakin University representatives launch the report into Therapeutic Life Story Work (MacKillop Family Services)

MacKillop Family Services and Deakin University have conducted a world-first, evidence-based evaluation of a therapeutic program that has outlined how it supports children and young people in care to heal from trauma.

Researchers from Deakin University in Geelong worked with MacKillop over three years to investigate the Therapeutic Life Story Work (TLSW) program’s effectiveness. 

Developed by international child trauma expert Richard Rose, of the University of Northampton, in England, TLSW is a process to help young people who have experienced trauma express in pictures, words or colours, their feelings about how the loss of family and home has impacted their life.

Professor Rose says the report underlined the fundamental importance of supporting young people with a history of trauma to make sense of and create meaning from their experience which will ultimately help them to strengthen their emotional and social wellbeing and sense of identity.

“This evaluation shows us that knowledge and understanding of your past and acceptance of who you are now brings increased social, emotional and behavioural wellbeing. And we know that positive mental wellbeing and feelings of self-worth help break the cycle of children with a care experience being the parents of kids who start the cycle all over again.”

TLSW has been in practice throughout the world for 30 years, and the key findings from this evaluation reported that the program: enhanced the relationship between the young person and their carer and strengthened their relationship; reduced risk and challenging behaviours; and increased social, emotional and behavioural wellbeing.

MacKillop Family Services chief executive Robyn Miller said the “evidence shows this model works”.

“I’d like to see every child in foster care or residential care who has gaps in their history to have access to TLSW. How can you even begin to imagine a future for yourself if you have no knowledge of your past? We need funding to train more clinicians to deliver TLSW and improve outcomes for some of our most vulnerable young people.”


Dr Robyn Miller, Kerry O’Sullivan (director of clinical services, MacKillop Family Services), Professor Richard Rose, Dr James Lucas (Deakin University) and Meisha Taumoefolau (principal practitioner, MacKillop Family Services) launch the evaluation into Therapeutic Life Story Work (MacKillop Family Services)


Helping young people understand their past empowers them to hope for the future (MacKillop Family Services)