Anita is a director of Adventure Works and a keen practitioner, trainer and researcher in BAT. At a young age, Anita noticed that adventuring with friends and family in natural environments made her feel good and she wanted to share that with other people. After two decades of doing just that, Adventure Works is her way of putting all of her personal and professional experiences into one place. She wants to increase the uses of bush adventures for therapy in Australia and expand people’s opportunity to experience the healing potential of BAT. Anita’s personal approach comes from the belief that humans benefit from contact with nature and that ‘good therapy’ is not something ‘done’ to another person, but co-created.
Since 1990 Anita has trained in outdoor education, mental health, drug treatment, health promotion, family therapy, and research and evaluation. In her working life Anita has fulfilled roles of educator, practitioner, manager, researcher, and trainer in the areas of bush adventure therapy, outdoor education, youth work, and experiential learning with a range of target groups. Since 2000 Anita has been integral to the development of the field of Bush Adventure Therapy in Australia. Career highlights include:
In 2002-5 Anita managed a statewide Outdoor Therapy Service for young people experiencing mental health difficulties (including drug/alcohol and youth justice issues) in Victoria, and developed a Community Adventure Program arm of that service. In this role, Anita sought to create a responsive service, and raise the program to ‘best practice’ safety standards by initiating an external safety audit, facilitating industry consultation, refining policies and procedures, updating manuals, training staff, refining practice models and initiating additional measures to broaden the safety-net of programs.
As assistant manager for Gateway (2003-4) Anita helped to establish an innovative set of youth services offering accredited training pathways to young people. Second in charge of a team of artists, musicians, builders, horticulturalists, chefs, youth workers and social workers, Anita developed program frameworks, business strategies, social enterprises, participant pathways, evaluation processes, and links with registered training organisations to assist young people towards economic participation in their local community.
Via development of a partnership between Jesuit Social Services, the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, and Parks Victoria, Anita played a key role in establishing a bush-based inner-city program site for the delivery of bush adventure therapy services in inner Melbourne. The Bush Hut, as it is known, was established to bring young people, families and communities into healthy contact with nature.
From 2002-6 Anita was responsible for developing and delivering post-graduate education in the use of bush adventures for wellbeing within Victoria University’s Masters in Experiential Learning. The course provided training for outdoor facilitators working with high risk client groups, including content on theory, professional practice, risk assessment and management, therapeutic approaches, Indigenous cultural approaches, bush adventure programming, group facilitation and leadership.
In 2006-7 Anita was Adventure Therapy Specialist within a statewide adult psycho-social rehabilitation service, offering leadership in therapeutic programming, psychological care, and research and development to a diverse staff team.
In 2011-13 Anita was Research and Policy Officer for Anglicare Tasmania, undertaking research in mental health and homelessness, and policy work in a wide cross-section of areas of disadvantage for people living on low incomes.
Since completing her PhD and prior to establishing Adventure Works, Anita consulted to a range of community services in areas of program development, research and evaluation, staff training and supervision, and delivery of alternative interventions for wellbeing, including bush adventure therapy services.