Symposium focuses on strengthening families

Belinda Bantham -- Thu, 04/12/2018 - 14:34

Symposium focuses on strengthening families

Strong families are a key support system in societies facing change and turmoil, and even families experiencing adversity can be strengthened. These are some of the positive messages that emerged from the second annual symposium of the North-West University’s (NWU’s) Centre for Child, Youth and Family Studies.

The specific aim of the annual symposium on strengthening families is to create a platform where academics and students can give feedback on their research, and where practitioners can share their experiences in the field of strengthening families.

Topics covered at the recent symposium, held in Durbanville on 15 March, included: protective factors in the face of adversity; practice-based research on strengthening families in the face of adversity; practice-based trauma interventions for families in the face of adversity, and critical thinking on intergenerational transmission of various trends such as trauma, substance abuse and poverty.

Twenty-nine presenters delivered their papers during different breakaway sessions over the course of the day. Presenters included delegates from most of the universities in South Africa, academics from two international higher institutions and practitioners from different welfare organisations and NGO’s.

The two keynote speakers were Lezaan Lennox and Dr Rochshana Kemp.

Ms Lennox is a social worker in private practice and a PhD student at the NWU. Her keynote address was on restoring attachments in families that face adversity.

Dr Kemp is a social work manager at the Western Cape Education Department. She spoke about the prevalence and effects of trauma in schools. She highlighted the importance of the family as support system.

Delegates expressed their appreciation about the feedback on evidence-based indigenous research and on how the research can translate into practice.  

The symposium was followed by a workshop on mapping and other techniques to assess and intervene with families. The presenter was Dr Mariette van der Merwe from the Centre for Child, Youth and Family studies. Some 46 practitioners and academics from various universities attended the interactive workshop.

The well-attended and very successful symposium paved the way for next year’s event. 2019’s symposium will take place on 14 March 2019 with the preliminary topic being “Strengthening families: local wisdom and knowledge in practice and research”.

Next year’s symposium will once again be held at the Durbanville Conference Centre in the Western Cape. It will be followed by a workshop on 15 March 2019.

Delegates applied mapping techniques to case studies in creative ways during the workshop. These included mapping resources, doing eco-mapping and developing timelines.