The annual NSW Department of Education Counselling Service Conference (previously known as the School Counsellor Conference) aims to deliver the highest possible standard of professional learning and development for over 300 school counsellors and school psychologists within the Ultimo Operational Directorate.

The conference allows school counsellors and school psychologists to engage with empirically-based research, connect with their peers, and learn strategies that have been directly tested in their field of work.

Monday, 24th April 2017 at Fairfield RSL - 8:30am to 3:00pm.


Fairfield RSL

14 Anzac Ave

Fairfield NSW 2165

There is ample free indoor/outdoor parking at the venue. Alternatively, you can also reach the venue via public transport as it is only a few minutes walk from Fairfield train station.

How School Counsellors/Psychologists can Help Students and Families Develop a Healthy Digital Diet

Keynote speaker - Dr Justin Coulson

Over the past decade children and adults alike have been swept up by a screen tsunami. We are all walking around with screens in our bags and backpacks, our pockets, and our palms. We are always “turned on”, and constantly “connected”. But neuroscientists are discovering that the continuous connection is rewiring our brains – and the new neural circuitry is not functioning as well as the old one.

This presentation is designed for school counsellors to identify a few basics: why screens, games, and social media are so compelling; what the DSM says about problematic internet (and screen) use; and how they impact the brain and the lives of children. But we will also explore the nitty gritty of how to work with students and their families in positive ways to help them set limits, and still enjoy technology in healthy, balanced ways so that the other parts of their lives can be as successful as their advancement through the levels of their favourite game.


Our aim is to present the counselling service with opportunities to engage with expert speakers on key topics that are both relevant and beneficial to their every day work practice. This year, conference participants will be able to attend two separate workshops, a morning and an afternoon session, based on their own preferences.


The following workshops are available for the morning session (11:30am - 12:30pm):

Gender Diversity and Children

Dr Elizabeth Riley, Counsellor/Clinical Supervisor

Conference Room

This workshop/presentation explores gender diversity in children with a view to firstly educating participants to recognise and understand the needs of these children and their families, and secondly to highlight the role of schools in supporting and engaging the children and their parents to meet their individual needs. Specifically, this presentation defines language, cites the latest prevalence figures and explains the indicators of gender diversity, the risks to the child’s mental health, the importance of parental support and the role of schools in supporting children to undergo a social transition (where necessary). Utilising the voices of individuals, videos and the Adolescent Gender Feeling Amplitude (AGFA) participants will gain insight to the needs of gender variant children and their parents as well as begin to recognise when a child needs support regarding their gender diversity and/or identity. Elizabeth will also highlight helpful material for teachers including books (including for primary), a PowerPoint presentation and the ‘Families in Transition’ (2016) online resource.

EDMed® - Meeting the physical, social, emotional and academic needs of students with chronic illness

Natali Milovanovic, Education Coordinator (Ronald McDonald House Charities)

Breakout Room 2

In this workshop, participants will have the chance to learn about the services the Ronald McDonald Learning Program can provide to students who have missed substantial time from school due to chronic illness, and how to recommend students to the program.

EDMed® is a one-hour, NESA registered, PD session targeted at teachers. It aims to provide an overview of chronic illness, along with the possible physical, social, emotional and academic impacts of these conditions, whilst providing strategies to assist in the management of impacted students.

This workshop will deliver an outline of the EDMed® presentation. Participants will have the chance to explore a number of strategies that are designed to encourage school connectedness and engagement. It will also provide systems for busy educators and professionals to help with organising and planning resources. Some of these strategies will be Web2.0 tools that can be accessed on a tablet, and participants will have a chance to set up their own account to have a play with these tools.

An Introduction to Biofeedback in Working with Trauma Survivors

Sejla Murdoch, Senior Clinician (STARTTS)/Registered Psychologist

Sapphire Room

Biofeedback therapies are non-pharmacologic treatments that use scientific instruments to detect and amplify internal body activities too subtle for normal awareness, making information about one’s body available to the conscious mind. They can be a useful adjunct to trauma treatment, are easy to learn and inexpensive. This workshop will provide an introductory background to Biofeedback and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) in working with trauma survivors.

Sexting, Pornography, and Adolescent Wellbeing

Dr Justin Coulson, Leading Parent Expert, International Speaker/Author

Horsley Room A

According to some commentators, observers, and even researchers, sexting is now a normal part of sexual exploration and relationships among teens and, while it poses risks, it can be a healthy form of expression. Others cite research that highlights significant dangers for teens, and discourages such practices entirely.

This presentation will discuss empirical findings related to sexting and pornography in young people, and identify the relationships and impact of these issues in the lives of young people. Using real stories to underpin the research, this presentation will be an interactive discussion to help educators and professionals guide students safely in relation to sexual content online and in personal communications.

Memory Mates: A set of classroom based intervention strategies to improve attention and working memory in primary aged students.

Linda Sheldon (SPE), Nash Davis (R/SPE) and Dr Susan Colmar (Program Director School Counselling/School Psychology- The University of Sydney)

Horsley Room B

A set of ten strategies called Memory Mates have been devised to facilitate attention and working memory skills in students within a classroom context. This research and applied work has taken place in classrooms and, uniquely, has involved teacher training, students’ participation and their parents’ support.

The work focuses on supporting primary aged (Years 3 and 4) students to use attention and working memory strategies in everyday lessons. In contrast, most studies in this area to date evaluate “external to classroom” working memory training programs, which are often computer-based, expensive and with poor generalisation.

Data analyses from Memory Mates research have confirmed highly significant correlations between working memory and reading comprehension, maths and spelling, as well as academic self-concept and engagement, in Year 3 and 4 samples. Thus confirming the link between working memory, academic and related outcomes. To date no other Australian research has confirmed this relationship.

*please note that this workshop has a strict 35 maximum participants limit.


The following workshops are available for the afternoon session (1:30pm - 2:30pm):

Self-Care and Resilience - Myths, Realities, and Strategies for the Real World

Alison Piedade, Clinical Supervisor/Consultant

Breakout Room 2

This workshop aims to encourage reflection and provide participants with practical strategies and ways of framing our thinking around resilience and self-care to make a difference in the many real world contexts in which school counsellors practise.

The workshop will include:

  • A brief presentation highlighting some of the most compelling parts of the evidence base related to professional resilience and self-care;
  • Observations and analysis from the presenter based on the evidence base and from her work as a clinical supervisor of school counsellors and many other human service professionals; and
  • A facilitated / interactive group discussion to explore how we might better facilitate the development and maintenance of our professional and personal resilience both collectively and individually.

This workshop may appeal to those who wish to enhance or ramp up their personal and professional resilience and to those who lead, supervise or support others.

*please note that this workshop has a strict 25 maximum participants limit.

Reading Difficulties – Theory, Assessment and Interventions

Soheil Afshar, School Psychologist/Master of Clinical Neuropsychology

Conference Room

The aim of the workshop is to first briefly familiarise participants with the theory and research behind reading and how difficulties can arise. The focus will then shift to how school counsellors/psychologists can use this knowledge as well as specific assessment tools to identify where a child’s difficulty lies. Finally, evidence-based interventions will be discussed and how they can be modified to meet the needs of the child within the school environment. The workshop will include case studies where participants will be tasked with developing a hypothesis regarding what type of reading difficulty a child may have, what assessments to use to test the hypothesis, and then what interventions or compensatory strategies to apply to help the child.

*please note that this workshop has a strict 50 maximum participants limit.

Using the new WIAT-III A&NZ in the assessment of Specific Learning Disabilities

Valorie O’Keefe, Consultant Psychologist

Horley Room B

This one hour workshop will cover the new test structure of the WIAT-III ANZ, and how assessment results can be used in conjunction with cognitive assessment results (WISC-V) to determine the presence of Specific Learning Disabilities in students. Definitions of SLD’s, including dyslexia, will be explored with reference to the WIAT III and psycho-educational assessments in the school setting. Pros and cons of the Ability-Achievement Discrepancy analysis (AAD) and the Strengths and Weaknesses analysis (PSW) methodology will be covered.

Behaviour Management Tools and Resources for School Counsellors and School Psychologists

Kellie Sheehy, Registered Psychologist

Horsley Room A

This presentation will cover:

  • What is challenging behaviour/behaviours of concern?
  • The importance of identifying behaviours of concern and tools to assist with this.
  • Visual and Practical tools to potentially change behaviours of concern.
  • General facilitated discussion around helpful tools and strategies to assist with behaviours of concern.

At the end of this presentation participant should have an understanding of the tools to identify and address behaviours of concern.

Children, Young People and Domestic Violence - Impacts, Strategies, and Interventions

Belinda Cooley, School Link (CAMHS) Manager/Clinical Social Worker

Sapphire Room

Domestic Violence and child protection concerns are present in every classroom and every school in the State. Domestic violence impacts significantly on children and young people including their learning and engagement at school. This workshop will provide practical information and interventions for working with children and young people living with domestic violence. The workshop will include screening tools, strategies for safety planning and information on referral pathways. This will be an interactive workshop with opportunities for case discussion.

Contact Us

Should you require any additional information, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Janet Rowe, via or 9759 4388.