During a time, not that long ago, way before ‘trauma informed’ fully entered (almost) the mainstream lexicon for schools, services and systems in the UK, I had a dream. Before Brexit, Johnson and the biggest onslaught on our preventative services otherwise known as the ‘the violence of austerity’  (Whyte and Cooper, 2017), I was on a mission. It’s a mission that I am still on which is to be part of the collective energy and pursuit of shifting how we approach distress away from the ‘mad, bad or sad’ narrative to understanding distress for what it is; distress.

Already making my way around the UK to any setting that would listen to me talk about the impact of trauma and adversity, I came across a conference in Melbourne Australia. It was 2015 and I spotted the conference by accident while doing some research for a training event I was delivering. The conference was going to be taking place the following year and as I read through the speakers, I was absolutely desperate to go. I knew that the content was a game changer for my work and would enhance what I could bring into my writing, training and speaking.

Affording the ticket, the flight and the accommodation seemed out of reach so I focused on nothing else for weeks. I made the conference website page my screen saver, created a vision board full of ‘all things Australia’ and simultaneously asked the Universe to send me some money! I kid you not, but unbeknown to me, I had made an overpayment of £1500 on loan repayments 7 years earlier and a cheque for the said amount dropped through my letterbox. I was so excited and took this as a sign that the Australia Childhood Foundation was calling me! It would cover a significant amount of the trip and focusing on nothing else other than getting there paid off.

The conference was, as I predicted, a game-changer. I threw myself into it; networking, extensively using the conference app, sharing widely on social media, attending absolutely everything on offer through jetlag, exhaustion all while feeling a little trauma drenched (a week on trauma is intense). The richness of learning on so many levels was beyond what I could have hoped for. A bi-annual conference, I returned again in 2018 and again. Covid changed just about everything so a live conference in 2020 wasn’t possible and now in 2022, I’m in Melbourne again. This time though, I’m also presenting and sitting on a panel with many incredible women and the speakers I have chosen to listen to are not the big names but rather those who can really push my thinking in different directions.

As always, I want you to join me on this journey so I will post the highlights from every day for you so you can feel like you’re here with me. I know many of you will have read the posts of 2016 and 2018 and have therefore been on this particular bit of my journey with me. Right now, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that I am here again and that I can share this experience with you as best as I can. May the conference commence!

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