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NatureConnect is a gentle therapeutic experience for women and their children who have experienced family violence and who are feeling socially isolated due to Covid-19. If you, or someone you know is in this boat – feeling lonely, disconnected, socially isolated or mentally stuck, this program might be worth a look…

What it is

NatureConnect brings together small groups of women, and their children, to build healthy connections. Women with or without children are welcomed.

The program taps into the known health benefits of social relationships, physical activity and contact with nature by providing active enjoyable experiences in outdoor spaces for small groups of women and their children.

Through a partnership with Collingwood Children’s Farm, program experiences take place at the Farm. If Covid-related social restrictions are in place, sessions will be hosted online from the Farm.

NatureConnect supports the formation of friendships at the Farm in a way that means the women and their children can continue to socially connect with each other at the Farm after their involvement in the program.

The program

NatureConnect provides a series of 5 therapeutic sessions. The 5 sessions are a mix of individual sessions and group-based sessions over a 2-month timeframe.

  • Session 1: Individual 60-90 minute session. During this first session, the participant will meet a NatureConnect therapist (Rachael or Niki) one to one, and begin to explore ways the program may support the woman (and her children).
  • Session 2: Group-based 2 hour session (10am-12pm). During this first group session, a small group of participants (and their children) will meet NatureConnect therapists Rachael and Niki, and begin to get to know each other through gentle activity and exploration of the Farm.
  • Session 3: Group-based 2 hour session (10am-12pm). During this group session, participants will get to know each other to a deeper level through gentle group activities in the Farm environment.
  • Session 4: Group-based 2 hour session (10am-12pm). During this group session, participants will build on their connections with other women and the Farm environment and make some plans for continuing the connections beyond the program.
  • Session 5: Individual 60-90 minute session. During this final session, the participant (and her children) will meet with Rachael or Niki one to one to plan ways the woman (and her children) may continue to strengthen their social connections with fellow participants and the Farm beyond the program.

Children

Children under 18 years of age are welcome to attend any or all sessions. We expect that some participants will have infants or young children who attend all sessions, while school-aged children are more likely to join sessions during school holidays. If a woman requests to be in a group without children, we will try to accommodate this wish.

Reunion days

In addition to providing 5 therapeutic sessions, NatureConnect will facilitate monthly ‘Reunion lunches’ to support the continuation of friendships and connections with the Farm after the program. These events are open to all current and past participants of the NatureConnect program.

Who we are

NatureConnect is a partnership between Adventure Works Australia and the Collingwood Children’s Farm. The program has been enabled through a Victorian Government “Let’s Stay Connected” grant until June 31st 2021.

Adventure Works directors and staff have a long history of providing nature-based experiences to help build health and facilitate healing with a range of target groups. This program is informed by research and practice experience, and is designed to activate the known benefits of social connection, nature contact, physical activity and intentional conversations for survivors of family violence.

NatureConnect is facilitated by Rachael and Niki, who are trained therapists with experience working with women and children who are recovering from the harms of family violence.

Picture of Rachael and Niki
NatureConnect staff members Rachael and Niki

NatureConnect is supported by:

Collingwood Children’s Farm

From their site…

“Collingwood Children’s Farm respectfully acknowledges the Wurundjeri-Woiwurrung people as the traditional owners of the Abbotsford Precinct Heritage Farmlands, the lands we respect, care for and farm on behalf of all Victorians. The Farm thanks all Wurundjeri Elders past, present and emerging for their guardianship of these lands.

Nestled on the banks of Birrarung and only four kilometres from Melbourne’s CBD, Collingwood Children’s Farm was founded in 1979 to support and engage local children experiencing adversity.  A much loved non-profit organisation, the Farm’s reason for being remains true to its roots: Community Engagement, Education and Connection with Nature, Green Space and Animals.

Collingwood Children’s Farm is a haven for children and adults alike, with daily activities and acres of paddocks and gardens to explore. Cuddle a goat, enjoy workshops with a Farmer or sit back with a coffee and observe the goings on of a thriving community farm – there’s something for everyone!”