Bettina McFadyen


Bettina McFadyen is a social worker and senior practioner at Brisbane Youth Service Centre for Young Families. She has worked in the organisation in multiple roles for the last twenty-five years. She is passionate about working with young families and their children and loves learning new ways of working.


Brisbane Youth Service has been working with vulnerable, at risk young families for forty years. Many of these families have an extensive history of trauma. In addition to the stigma attached to being a young parent, a history of trauma can impact on their ability to be a competent caregiver and develop a secure attachment with their child in the first 1000 days.

We know that trauma can threaten the emotional and psychological security of a child. When a young parent is unable to meet the attachment and developmental needs of their child, alongside early deprivation of appropriate enrichment and stimulation, this can lead to delays developmental milestones.

We recognise that young parents are difficult to engage, particularly in parenting programs. We find success through relationship based practice using a strengths based perspective to underpin our framework of engagement. Once relationship and trust is built, we use an attachment and infant mental health based interventions to build the parent/child relationship and create a safe environment for the family.

We have recognised the importance of supporting young families within the first 1000 days as this has a major impact on the child’s infant mental health, building a secure attachment and the overall parenting capacity and wellbeing of the family. We will speak further on the challenges with working with young families and the importance of working within this attachment framework. We will also elaborate further on why this early intervention is essential for the first 1000 days of a child’s life.

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