Cross-fertilising Bush Adventure Therapy and Contemporary Green Perspectives within Social Work Education: Describing the investigative and collaborative path taken and providing findings and recommendations to consider new settings.

Amanda Smith, Professor Donna McAuliffe, Dr Anita Pryor

Session type: Regular forum session
Session duration: 60 minutes

Key words: Bush adventure therapy, Green Social Work, Trauma Informed Practice, Curriculum


The School of Human Services and Social Work at Griffith University have partnered with international universities, institutions, associations and various professional identities to deeply investigate where the intersectionality of green social work and bush adventure therapy may fit within the professional and higher education curriculum of social work. Over a period of 2 years we have held focus groups, collaborations and research partnerships towards sharing our understandings about essential green/environmental social work knowledges and skills and how we can come to embed bush adventure therapy and green perspective methods and content within social work courses. With increasing literature highlighting the importance of developing environmental and green social work practice and education (Dominelli, 2012; Gray et. al., 2013; Ramsay & Boddy, 2017) these investigations are both timely and critical. This presentation will explore where social work and bush adventure therapy meet and describe the process of investigation and collaboration and provide findings and recommendations that have been undertaken.

About the presenter/s

Ms Amanda Smith is a Lecturer in Social Work at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia. She has 17 years’ experience in Human Services and has practiced in diverse roles in the government and community sectors including housing and homelessness, trauma recovery, community development, youth and family violence. Amanda founded a BAT program within a national NGO service and designed, facilitated and evaluated numerous BAT programs. She was the former national chair of (AABAT) and is determined to collaborate with colleagues and peers to extend the social work curriculum to explore ways of integrating environmental social work and bush adventure therapy together into the broader social work discourse that is meaningful to both BAT and Social Work.

Professor Donna McAuliffe is Head of School and Professor in the School of Human Services and Social Work at Griffith University. She has diverse professional practice experience. Donna has been actively involved with the Australian Association of Social Work for over 30 years and led the last revision of the AASW Code of Ethics (2010). She is a Foundation Fellow of the Australian College of Social Work. She is co-author of the 5th edition text ‘Road to Social Work and Human Service Practice’ and sole author of the book ‘Interprofessional Ethics: Collaboration in the Social, Health and Human Services’. Donna’s current research agenda is in ‘e-professionalism’, the ethics of social media.

Dr Anita Pryor is a co-director of Adventure Works Australia. She has over 20 years of experience in BAT spanning roles of practitioner, manager, trainer and researcher in relation to BAT programs for young people, adults and families in areas of mental health, drug treatment, and a range of other complex needs. Her PhD (Public Health) was on practices and wellbeing benefits of Australian Outdoor Adventure Interventions. In the last 10 years she has undertaken research and policy work in areas of mental health, drug misuse and youth homelessness, and lead research in approximately 10 evaluations of BAT services. She played key roles in establishing a national peak body (AABAT) and international peak body (ATIC), and co-developed a graduate level course for BAT practitioners.

Dr Jennifer Boddy is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at Griffith University and the Deputy Head of School (Learning and Teaching). She is also on the executive committee for the Australian and New Zealand Social Work, Welfare, Education and Research (ANZSWWER) Association. Jennifer is passionate about creating healthy, sustainable environments, free from violence, for all people and particularly those who are marginalised and disadvantaged. Jennifer’s scholarship is focused on environmental social work, feminism, and program design and evaluation.

Ms Hilary Gallagher is a Lecturer in Social Work at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia Hilary is a qualified social worker and has worked in health, disability, mental health and community settings in Scotland and Australia; as well as volunteering in a number of settings in South America and Asia. Her research and practice interests centre on creating sustainable communities, environmental social work and social justice issues particularly with regards to people who have a disability. Hilary is a PhD Candidate at Griffith University exploring community living and human rights.

Ms Sylvia Ramsay has a background in education and public health and is currently a PhD candidate in Social Work at Griffith University Australia. She is interested in activities that advance both environmental sustainability and social justice. She has undertaken
research in green social work, environmental social work and permaculture. Her current project focuses on financially independent organisations which promote environmental and social wellbeing.