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Autumn eNewsletter 2019

Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc.

Welcome to the AABAT Autumn E-News for 2019 

Welcome to the Autumn edition of eNews for the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy. The excitement is definitely starting to build as we gradually edge toward the National AABAT Forum in August, 2019. The team up North are keeping most of the details under wraps, but we've already seen a few hints dropped on the facebook pages, so keep your eyes peeled for more treats. 

In this edition, we've got a few notices about things happening in the field, a couple of positions available for passionate people, a quick teaser from the QLD team and the events which are coming up as the temperatures cool down. 


1) Word from the Chair 
2) Survey of the Field 
3) Volunteer Coordinator Position 
4) Expedition Leader Position  
5) More than "just gardening" 
7) Hello from QLD 
8) Art in BAT 

Word from the Chair

I’ve just finished watching a short clip on equine therapy in between preparing for an Art in Bush Adventure Therapy training day and it’s really struck me how diverse Bush Adventure Therapy is. I was reflecting on all the different modalities that are offered within this field and the different practices that lie with those. I realise again why I have been attracted to this powerful practice and the folk that passionately believe in it. It's as diverse and different as we are from each other. We all have a common link to nature, and Bush Adventure Therapy provides that thread, but how you experience it is personal. Our differences, needs and abilities can be included in adventure therapy somewhere and somehow. I have heard so many times from participants the joy of feeling they can be themselves and they can feel calm and at ease with that feeling. Is it our difference and acceptance of them that makes this happen? 

I don’t understand all the practices and ways of doing Bush Adventure Therapy but I am open to them. This was highlighted by an experience with equine therapy 3 years ago. I’d watched from afar but never really connected to it. I watched and listened with an uninformed opinion based on no experience. In my position at the time, I was looking for a way to work with a group of young people that had deep mental health issues and high anxiety. I suggested the idea to one young lady that maybe we could do some sort of program with horses. Well, that was it! This usually non-engaging young lady kept asking me if we could do a horse program while pestering other staff as well. I was moved by her enthusiasm and others she brought into the fold. We ran a 2-month program with a 2-night camp and follow up. This young lady and many of the other participants had found something that they could relate to and connect with. As she said…."This short program has done way more than 3 years of (face to face) therapy". At last contact, she had moved onto further study and was managing her mental health with a feeling of empowerment. 

So my view was changed, but every now and then I slip back into my own comfort zone and limit my view of the world and what can help folk on their journey. This year I’m personally aiming to open my self up to the wide breadth of practices that come into the AABAT fold. I understand that there are practices that can be questioned and we need to support and/or direct them to the ethical principles of the Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy 

I do believe I will be the richer and more able to support those I wish to help by taking on new and varied views. 

This year’s AABAT forum ( ) will be one place to explore different thinking and approaches, but between now and then I will personally seek enriching experiences. 

I love to hear from our community via email or facebook on what everyone is doing, please keep letting me know. 

The AABAT survey is also another great way for individuals and especially organisations to share what you are doing. Through the results, we can better advocate to the government and support the broader community and Bush Adventure Therapy organisations. 

I look forward to hearing from you. 

Have a wonderful 2019 

Michael Naismith 

Greetings from Queensland

Work is progressing on the 2019 AABAT forum in Queensland, some of the major pieces of the puzzle are slotting into place. It's very exciting. By now you may have seen the posts advertising the forum. Please feel free to share with your social networks! The early bird rate ends on the 1st of April, and there's been a lot of interest in the pre-forum expedition (spaces limited) so get in quick. 

Make sure you have a look at our guest speakers, you'll find a bio at the AABAT forum page under the program heading. Dr Gregory Smith and Emeritus Professor Judy Atkinson will be sharing their considerable knowledge and wisdom, and we're working on other guest speakers that will round out the program. 

Don't want to give too much away, suffice to say this will be one forum not to be missed. See you there. 

The Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy (AABAT) has launched the first-ever national survey of the field. The aim is to gain a greater understanding of who is currently practicing or interested in Bush Adventure Therapy (BAT) in Australia. 

About the survey
The survey is designed to connect those that are interested in Bush Adventure Therapy with the association and to map the breadth and diversity of BAT services in Australia. The survey will result in an online database to increase the ability of potential participants to find the right program for them. 

If you know of any organisations conducting activities which fit under the umbrella of BAT, please make sure to pass this along to contacts you have so we are able to get a clear picture of organisations and individuals carrying out work in the field. And a reminder, by completing the survey, you can go into the draw to win a scholarship to the AABAT Forum in 2019 or an AABAT prize pack. 
Who can participate in the AABAT survey?

If you can answer yes to any of the following, then this survey is for you.

  • Are you interested in the health benefits of contact with nature?

  • Do you work in the Bush Adventure Therapy or related field (either a BAT organisation or an organisation that provides BAT interventions, programs or services)?

  • Do you work in human service, social service, allied or primary health fields with an interest in Bush Adventure Therapy?

  • Do you work in outdoor education, recreation, instructing or guiding with an interest in Bush Adventure Therapy?

  • Are you looking at Bush Adventure Therapy as a potential area of future employment?

  • Are you a current student interested in the Bush Adventure Therapy field?

  • Have you previously worked in Bush Adventure Therapy or related field, and maintained an interest?

Who will the AABAT survey benefit?

The survey findings will benefit Bush Adventure Therapy organisations and practitioners by strengthening AABAT’s ability to advocate for Bush Adventure Therapy at all levels of government. This will also assist with information sharing for funding applications and improved practices.

How long does the survey take?

  • For those that are just interested in finding out about the field, the survey will take as little as two minutes.

  • For those working in the field, the survey will cover topics such as qualifications and training, employment history and opinions on Bush Adventure Therapy program components and outcomes. This may take up to half an hour. You may leave and return to the survey or complete your survey over the phone.

  • For someone answering on behalf of a organisation, the survey will cover topics such as participant information, program information, staff, training and research and evaluation. This could take up to an hour. You may leave and return to the survey or complete your survey over the phone.

As an existing, or potential member of AABAT, you are a partner, and this is your story. We'd love to hear from you regardless of your level of expertise or experience, as more connections will strengthen the AABAT community and help AABAT to be Australia’s thriving peak body for Bush Adventure Therapy.

To do this we need you! Your time is valued, so to say thank you, you can go into the draw to win a scholarship to the AABAT Forum 2019 or an AABAT prize pack.

To help widen the circles of the Bush Adventure Therapy community in Australia we ask that you please spread the word on to those in your networks that are not yet connected with AABAT and may be interested.

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact, or 0407 079 396 or send a message on facebook.

Volunteer Coordinator Position 


Position title: Coordinator of AABAT Policy Unit (name of unit yet to be determined) 

Duration: Minimum 2 year commitment 

Remuneration: This is a voluntary role - where possible expenses will be covered 

Location: Work remotely 

EOI Close Date: 5pm on Friday 29th March, 2019 


The Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc. (AABAT) is a national body for bush adventure therapy, outdoor and nature based interventions in Australia. It is an association built by volunteers from within the field, for the field. The role of volunteers has been crucial in creating a sustainable organisation and ensuring its ability to provide grass roots networking and reduce isolation for practitioners and organisations. AABAT does not receive any ongoing funding to progress its intended actions. This role builds on that tradition with the intent of increasing AABAT’s capacity to strengthen the field via public policy, promotion, research and accreditation.

In line with the decision made at the 2018 AGM, AABAT is seeking EOI's from interested people for the role of Coordinator for the new Policy Arm of the association. 

How to apply: 

Please send a succinct copy of your resumé along with a cover letter of not more than 500 words addressing the key selection criteria to by close of business on the 29th of March, 2019. The AABAT committee will consider responses and inform applicants of its decision by Friday the 12th of April, 2019. 

Selection criteria 

  • Detailed knowledge of the Bush Adventure Therapy field and its history
  • Demonstrated capacity to coordinate/manage working groups
  • Demonstrated capacity and experience in communicating effectively with committees and boards
  • Demonstrated experience communicating with government departments
  • Capacity to travel interstate for key meetings
  • Capacity to contribute minimum of one day per fortnight to the role for duration of 2 years
  • Demonstrated experience developing public policy
  • Demonstrated experience undertaking and coordinating systemic research
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Proficient in using computers, web based applications such as gsuite or microsoft office, skype and other online mediums for communication and project work. 
Role Description
  • Communication with government departments, ngo’s and AABAT membership
  • Coordination, in collaboration with the AABAT committee, oversight and work within relevant working group projects (including gathering and recruiting people to be part of working groups)
  • Communication and reporting to AABAT committee (it is anticipated that some committee members would be involved in projects of this arm and that AABAT office bearers would be involved alongside the coordinator). 
Initial activities of the coordinator
  • Develop a formal structure and agenda for the arm to work to
  • Gather already interested persons to induct them to the arm and its working groups
  • Identify any constitution or rule changes that may be necessary in progressing the arm - develop special general meeting agenda to progress any changes. NB: this was a key question posed by members at the 2018 AGM.
  • Progress identified projects and work.

Expedition Leader Position Available 


Hello friends,

I'm currently interested in talking to people for a role with True North Expeditions as an 'Expedition Leader'. A weird thing has happened over the last two years and True North has grown and grown, despite little efforts on my part to promote the program. In one sense, this PhD could not have come at a worse time. In 2018, we averaged about 50 referrals a month but only ran a few expeditions since my research took over the majority of my time.

After many conversations with friends and colleagues, I've decided to test the waters and reach out to people that would be interested in playing with our expedition model to see if we can cater to more of the families reaching out to us. Preferably, this person is a seasoned, flexible, and self-directed expedition leader capable of facilitating a 14-day expedition for groups of young people, while helping me to train younger expedition staff.

While most of our programs work on the Bendleby Ranges station in Orroroo, South Australia, I am not against this person getting creative with running different types of programs (kayak the Murray, kangaroo island, etc.). That said, I do think campfires are important at night and would like them to continue. 

My role would continue as the primary social worker and I would spend as much time in the field as possible with you, but administrative work is limiting the amount of time I can be out there and I'll need to keep preparing for future expeditions and talking to parents. I'm hoping to talk with people experienced and confident in their work and enthusiastic to increase True North's capacity to work with more young people and engage them and, most importantly, keep them safe (psychologically and physically).

I see True North growing to offer expeditions each month. This role would include two-weeks in the field, and two weeks off. We also would not operate as usual during the school holidays but could run follow-up expeditions. We pride our follow-up services and participants can continue working with us as long as they would like to.

All the usual qualifications are important and you'll work with myself and our small team. If it's a good fit, it would be nice to go to the field together and let some older clients interview you :) Experience in the field would be nice as well.

Our program's foundation is strong and I hope that together we can make it stronger. Did I mention a MacPac and Marmot pro deal? That is nice. Would love an email or direct message if you're interested.

More than 'just gardening'

Nature-based Therapy for people living with a mood disorder - A research project 

In your role as counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist, diversional therapist, art therapist, social worker, do you use Nature-based therapy for the benefit of your clients? 

  • Do you work with people living with a mood disorder such as anxiety or depression? 
  • Are you aged 18 or over?
  • Are you are competent in English language? 

Participation involves being available for a 50-60 minute interview, to be conducted at a time you find suitable. Ideally, this will be conducted in person, although an online option may be considered. 

The study is being conducted through the Jansen Newman Institute of THINK Education at the Pyrmont Campus, Sydney. 

For more information, please contact Virginia Field, at: 

Invitation to Participate 

My name is Kelly Murphy and I work with Lauren Coventon at the University of the Sunshine Coast on the UPLOADS research project.

As you may already be aware, we are in the process of recruiting users of the UPLOADS App. The project has involved the development of a standardised, national approach to incident reporting and learning for the outdoor sector in Australia. We are now in the process of developing and testing a new injury countermeasure development process and application, which will reduce accidents and injuries through the development and implementation of more effective countermeasures. The project has been funded by the Australian Research Council and a number of partners, and is due to continue until the end of 2020. The App is free to use until 2021.

We currently have 54 organisations using the App, but we need to recruit additional users as well as a control group. If anyone would like to sign up, they can do so here:

Last year we had very positive feedback from this event and there have been numerous requests for another day.

So here it is! This March we have two dates.

A midweek and a weekend 

March Saturday 16th 
March Friday the 22nd 

We will be focusing on nature-based artwork with groups and individuals and when it works best and when it doesn’t. What forms of art can be used? In what ways art can be delivered and the different therapeutic outcomes that can be achieved.

The day will be an opportunity to listen, interact and share ideas. We will have presenters sharing their ideas and experience but we are also wanting your input.

You may or may not be currently working in the field of adventure therapy. That doesn't matter, the day is for those that want to learn, share or meet people interested in connecting nature and art for the benefit of others.

Those that may benefit from the day are

  • Youth workers
  • Counselors
  • Art therapists
  • Social workers
  • Occupational therapists
  • Teachers
  • Bush Adventure Therapy practitioners
  • and many others
Mt Atkinson Community Centre (near Rockbank, Vic)

March Saturday 16th
March Friday the 22nd

Lunch provided (we just ask for a little help on the day).

The day will have a small registration fee to cover costs - $15

To register and for more information - 

Need to know more, contact 

Upcoming Events


9th - QLD 
Boonah Culture Centre, 3 High Street, Boonah 
Blue Peter are hosting a screening of BackTrack Boys - a story about a group of troubled boys and the dogs that saved them. Tickets are $10 and available from 

15th - Victoria 
Sokil, 425 Breakfast Creek Road, Wensleydale
Women, Earth and Soul Rewilding Retreat - more information from 

16th - Victoria 
Mt Atkinson Community Centre, Rockbank 
See the above article for more details!! Or contact 

17th  - Western Australia 
Rio Tinto Naturescape, Kings Park, Perth  
Connecting the Community - Come down to Kings Park from 11:30am until 2:30pm and connect with the WA AABAT community. Bring along any games or activities you would like to share with everyone. For more information and to RSVP contact or 

22nd - Victoria 
Mt Atkinson Community Centre, Rockbank 
See the above article for more details!! Or contact April  


8th - 11th - Queensland 
Bornhoffen PCYC Leadership Development Centre
2019 AABAT Forum - Turning Over a New Leaf - Registrations open in early February. Keep an eye on the website at 

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