I joined CAPS in 2013 because we shared the same vision – to protect children from harm and to give them a fulfilling childhood.
I have seen too many people who have had their childhoods stolen from them in a most brutal way and on behalf of all those people who have gone before I am compelled to make a difference.
The most vulnerable are the youngest which happens to be the same time that the seeds of confidence and learning take shape. Children from healthy families have a galvanized robustness that comes from being secure and safe. We want all children to have this and to reach their full potential.
In the 1990’s I established a retreat for abused and traumatised children in rural Victoria. Let me say it was tough to see the damage that had taken place. There I was able to grow more resilience and compassion in children who had had trouble defending themselves.
The opportunity to create a unique program for CAPS enabled me to bring together a program founded on 30 years of empirical research, developmental psychology and neuroscience and my years of experience. The research shows that people who have the skills we teach have better academic, health and employment outcomes, better relationships with families and peers and are overall happier. Our Safe Children Safe Families course is run through early learning centres, preschools and playgroups with great success.
Being made available for preschool aged children enables really important messages about personal safety and the development of emotional intelligence to shape healthy perspectives from the outset. The ability to understand your own emotions and to be able to regulate them is a life skill as is the ability to empathise with others. If you understand where someone is coming from you are in a better position to understand what is going on. This is evident in the changes in relationship dynamics with siblings and friends.
These skills foster more patience and enable people not to take things personally and work through the problems they face with greater resilience. They learn to tell what is happening to them and keep telling until they feel safe again.
Safe Children Safe Families engages the whole community. The program also shows parents what to do to protect children, to be vigilant to the signs, what responses following abuse are the most helpful. It shows teachers what they need to know and what helpful rather than harmful responses are. It is provided for professionals who work with children
Children are so totally dependent on adults and so when the response is shame, this becomes irreconcilable and it is blocked out, but the child’s emotional well being is damaged comprehensively, potentially for life.
There is a whole round of hurt to heal from previous generations of abused children. Many children suffered from abuse and we are trying to ensure that this stops.
About Dr. Reina Michaelson
Reina has designed, coordinated and facilitated the Safe Children, Safe Families (SCSF) program in NSW early learning centres, preschools and playgroups.
In 2001, upon completion of a PhD in Psychology from Victoria University (Australia) Reina received the Vice Chancellor’s Citation and Medal for Excellence in Research for her doctoral thesis, which examined the efficacy of education programs in preventing child sexual abuse.
Reina has travelled extensively, taking her knowledge and experience in preventing child abuse both abroad and around Australia. She established a retreat for abused and traumatised children in rural Victoria, and in 1997 was announced Young Australian of the Year for Community Services. Between 2000 and 2007, Reina worked in Malaysia, Vietnam and the Maldives, aiding these developing countries to adopt programs for the prevention of child sexual abuse. She also consulted to UNICEF and other international human rights organisations during this time.
In 2006-2012 Reina worked with the Northern Territory Government Families and Children (NTFC) as a senior policy officer in child protection reform, particularly in relation to the prevention and response to complex child abuse in Indigenous communities.
Reina’s qualifications and decades of experience in the field of child maltreatment, make her a valuable member of the CAPS team, and her impassioned presentation skills help to deliver the programs with resoundingly positive feedback.
Reina is passionate about the prevention of child maltreatment and she is committed 100% to help children and families to thrive.