Noel MacNamara

Deputy Director

Noel is the Deputy Director of the CETC and the Executive Manager, Research and Policy at the Australian Childhood Foundation. Noel has worked in child protection, child abuse and family violence across his career as a social worker, operational manager, organisational consultant, and child rights advocate. In 2013, Noel’s contribution to the field was acknowledged in his being awarded the Robin Clark Award in Victoria for his contribution to the area of child protection and out-of-home care. He has a particular interest in supervision and leadership, and organisational development. Noel has written extensively in national and international journals and practice literature. He has trained 1000s of direct care staff, carers and organisational leaders and regularly facilitates training and community practices for therapeutic specialists. He is well known as a trainer in trauma-informed care, with a particular passion for exploring how neuroscience has improved understanding of the impact of child abuse on the developing brain. Noel believes that neuroscience provides a compass for carers supporting children and young people to heal from trauma and adverse childhood experiences. Noel lives on Bundjalung country and when he is not busy with the CETC can be found pulling out weeds in his treacherous tropical backyard.

Articles written by

Noel MacNamara

‘There was no support’: Getting kinship care support right
‘There was no support’: Getting kinship care support right
Written by: Noel MacNamara Janise Mitchell
We did not and am still not receiving support requested or needed. Case managers or staff change without us being informed. Phone messages left at...
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12 ways foster and kinship carers can promote compassion and self-compassion in children and young people
12 ways foster and kinship carers can promote compassion and self-compassion in children and young people
Written by: Noel MacNamara
What are Compassion and Self-Compassion?Compassion is the ability to feel and connect with the suffering of another human being, self-compassion is the ability to feel...
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What Was I Thinking? Handling the Amygdala Hijack
What Was I Thinking? Handling the Amygdala Hijack
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Remember that time when you put the child you care for back to bed for the fourth time? Your thoughts suggested a level of desperation...
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‘Drop and run’ – the experience of kinship carers in the Australian child protection system
‘Drop and run’ – the experience of kinship carers in the Australian child protection system
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Recent research was conducted by the Southern Cross University and the Centre for Excellence in Therapeutic Care (McPherson, Gatwiri, Day, Parmenter, Mitchell & Macnamara, 2022)...
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Sibling placement in out-of-home care – Research brief
Sibling placement in out-of-home care – Research brief
Written by: Lynne McPherson Kathomi Gatwiri Janise Mitchell Noel MacNamara
The significance of sibling relationships for children and young people in out-of-home care is well documented by national and international scholars (Luu, Conley, Wright &...
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Understanding the needs of kinship carers in Australia – Research brief
Understanding the needs of kinship carers in Australia – Research brief
Written by: Lynne McPherson Janise Mitchell Noel MacNamara Kathomi Gatwiri
Kinship care placements in Australia are now more prevalent than foster care. They are the fastest growing form of out-of-home care in this country (AIHW,...
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Frequently asked questions by foster carers: Behaviours that challenge
Frequently asked questions by foster carers: Behaviours that challenge
Written by: Noel MacNamara
On any given night there are about 18000 children and young people are in foster care in Australia. Most foster carers will be the first...
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Responding to behaviours that challenge – practice guide
Responding to behaviours that challenge – practice guide
Written by: Glenys Bristow Noel MacNamara Janise Mitchell
Much has been written about understanding and managing the challenging pain-based behaviours of children and young people who have experienced trauma and live in therapeutic...
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Creating a balance between empowerment and limit setting in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Creating a balance between empowerment and limit setting in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Written by: Glenys Bristow Noel MacNamara Janise Mitchell
This guide has been developed to support Therapeutic Care carers and staff to navigate the critical balance between empowering children and young people and setting...
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The role of the therapeutic specialist in therapeutic care – Practice guide
The role of the therapeutic specialist in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Written by: Janise Mitchell Noel MacNamara
This guide has been developed to describe and support the enactment of the role of the Therapeutic Specialist. The guide provides an overview of the...
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Secondary traumatic stress and staff well-being: understanding compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Secondary traumatic stress and staff well-being: understanding compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Written by: Noel MacNamara
This guide has been developed to support organisational congruence and in the provision of trauma informed therapeutic care and the critical need for a well-supported,...
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How to develop your own self-care protocol
How to develop your own self-care protocol
Written by: Kelly Royds Noel MacNamara
When someone says ‘self-care’, what image comes to mind? What are the positive and negative aspects of this image? Do you have clear intentions for...
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Come on it’s only a game
Come on it’s only a game
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Many of you will have experienced something like the following… A residential worker is observing two young people playing table tennis in the rear yard...
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Book review: What happened to you? Conversations on trauma, resilience and recovery by Dr Perry and Oprah Winfrey
Book review: What happened to you? Conversations on trauma, resilience and recovery by Dr Perry and Oprah Winfrey
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Dr Perry and Oprah Winfrey recently released What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience and Recovery. The book tells the story of how adverse...
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Client mix and client matching in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Client mix and client matching in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Written by: Janise Mitchell Kelly Royds Noel MacNamara Glenys Bristow
Client mix and the process of client matching is one of the 10 Essential Elements underpinning the Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC) system in New South...
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The therapeutic power of laughter
The therapeutic power of laughter
Written by: Noel MacNamara
"The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter." Mark Twain We all like to laugh. It makes us feel good....
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Children, young people and sleep
Children, young people and sleep
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Many of those of you who know me, know that I have a big interest in sleep hygiene and the children and young people in...
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Trauma-informed relationship-based recovery reflection tool – Practice tool
Trauma-informed relationship-based recovery reflection tool – Practice tool
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Children and young people need adults who can co-regulate with them and teach them about feelings and their inner world. This Trauma Informed Relationship-Based Recovery...
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How to thrive in lock down, lean into what works in therapeutic care
How to thrive in lock down, lean into what works in therapeutic care
Written by: Kelly Royds Noel MacNamara
Lockdown means we lose touch with many things: friends, family, freedom. For young people, therapeutic youth workers and other staff in Intensive Therapeutic Care, however,...
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Changing your practice to being trauma informed in therapeutic residential care
Changing your practice to being trauma informed in therapeutic residential care
Written by: Glenys Bristow Noel MacNamara
Whilst the following Arabian proverb takes a bit to get your head around it leads rather nicely into this blog and our brief introduction on...
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Minimum age of criminal responsibility in the ACT
Minimum age of criminal responsibility in the ACT
Written by: Noel MacNamara Joe Tucci Janise Mitchell
This submission addresses the question of whether the age of criminal responsibility (MACR) should be increased and submits that the age should be raised from...
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‘It happens to boys too’: Child sexual exploitation
‘It happens to boys too’: Child sexual exploitation
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Over the last few years, there has been an increase in the profile and awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Undoubtedly there is a benefit...
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Review of new briefing papers on child sexual exploitation
Review of new briefing papers on child sexual exploitation
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Much of the available research regarding the sexual exploitation of children and young people is explored through the prism of victim as female and perpetrator...
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New, free training: responding to child sexual exploitation
New, free training: responding to child sexual exploitation
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Last week, we launched our new Responding to Child Sexual Exploitation online training resource for caseworkers, residential workers, house supervisors and managers, therapeutic specialists and...
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Safe Connections – A resource kit to support young people in care at risk of child sexual exploitation – Practice guide
Safe Connections – A resource kit to support young people in care at risk of child sexual exploitation – Practice guide
Written by: Janise Mitchell Cyra Fernandes Noel MacNamara Joe Tucci
The Safe Connections resource kit has been designed for use with young people at risk of or experiencing child sexual exploitation in care. Child sexual...
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A story you may recognise
A story you may recognise
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Peta had worked in residential care for 18 months. She took the position because she had had a difficult childhood and she felt that she...
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Achieving effective supervision – Games that supervisors play
Achieving effective supervision – Games that supervisors play
Written by: Noel MacNamara
In the previous blog, we discussed how easy it is for the supervisor/supervisee relationship to be consciously or sub-consciously ambushed by power/defensive game play. Kadushin...
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Neuroscience meets leadership
Neuroscience meets leadership
Written by: Noel MacNamara
In this blog, I explore the relationship between neuroscience and leadership. The latest research in neuroscience tells us that our neurobiology is what drives our...
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Understanding vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue
Understanding vicarious trauma and compassion fatigue
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Research shows how profoundly influenced we are by other people’s emotional states and how rapidly our interpersonal affective responses occur, and how dynamically our physiology...
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Client mix and matching in intensive therapeutic care
Client mix and matching in intensive therapeutic care
Written by: Janise Mitchell Noel MacNamara
Young people living in residential care are highly vulnerable and have commonly experienced a significant level of trauma and abuse. They often present with complex...
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‘Tis the Season to be Jolly’ – but not for everyone
‘Tis the Season to be Jolly’ – but not for everyone
Written by: Noel MacNamara
It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the fun and happiness of Christmas and forget that, for others, the season isn’t necessarily a...
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Preventing self-harm among young people in out-of-home care – Research brief
Preventing self-harm among young people in out-of-home care – Research brief
Written by: Nadine Cameron Lynne McPherson Kathomi Gatwiri Noel MacNamara Natalie Parmenter
Many young people in out-of-home care are at an elevated risk of self-harm and suicidality. The reasons range from early exposure to abuse, disconnection from...
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The healing power of friendship
The healing power of friendship
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Can the friendships and connections that can develop in Intensive Residential Care be nurtured and grown rather than feared? I would like you to take...
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The role of praise in working with young people
The role of praise in working with young people
Written by: Noel MacNamara
We can see each of our daily interactions with each of the young people we care for as bids for connection.  By choosing to turn...
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Understanding and supporting young people who self-harm in residential care
Understanding and supporting young people who self-harm in residential care
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Some of the young people we care for in the ITC programs deal with emotional distress and pain by hurting themselves physically. Young people hurting...
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The Intensive Therapeutic Care dance
The Intensive Therapeutic Care dance
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Therapeutic residential work can be conceptualised as a dance. It works best when therapeutic workers display therapeutic presence, are in sync with the young person,...
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The role of supervision in the trauma-informed journey
The role of supervision in the trauma-informed journey
Written by: Noel MacNamara
The intention of trauma-informed practice and care is an increased understanding of how present behaviours and difficulties can be understood in the context of past...
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Care teams – Collaborative processes for creating healing and change – Practice guide
Care teams – Collaborative processes for creating healing and change – Practice guide
Written by: Noel MacNamara Janise Mitchell Joe Tucci
A care team approach is an essential element of therapeutic care. This guide has been developed to support the practice of collaboration and participation through...
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Making sense of complex and challenging behaviours
Making sense of complex and challenging behaviours
Written by: Noel MacNamara
An inability to understand trauma-based behaviours often sees young people 'labelled' in ways that can create a 'spiral of negativity'. A trauma-informed approach orients us...
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Myth busting child sexual exploitation
Myth busting child sexual exploitation
Written by: Noel MacNamara
When it comes to the sexual exploitation of children, most Australians tend to view it as a problem that exists somewhere else. However, those of...
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Safety from the outside to the inside
Safety from the outside to the inside
Written by: Noel MacNamara
At the recent Therapeutic Specialist’s forum, there was lots of discussion about the concept of physical and relational safety in Intensive Therapeutic Care (ITC). We...
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Cultivating curiosity in Therapeutic residential care
Cultivating curiosity in Therapeutic residential care
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Curiosity is something that has excited me my whole life. I am sure a lot of you share my fascination and enthusiasm for curiosity. There...
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Staying on your game as a therapeutic specialist
Staying on your game as a therapeutic specialist
Written by: Noel MacNamara
What follows is a mixture of tips, reminders, encouragement and hopefully a little bit of inspiration. Start with your “why" - Knowing your why is...
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The role of emotions in therapeutic care
The role of emotions in therapeutic care
Written by: Noel MacNamara
The role of emotions within human service work may at first glance appear to be intuitively obvious and incontestable. Indeed, Howe (2008) described the day...
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Putting theory into practice
Putting theory into practice
Written by: Noel MacNamara
Sometimes you might wonder why you need to learn about theory. I have heard people say: Residential work with young people is often conducted amidst...
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Reflective practice: enhancing practice in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Reflective practice: enhancing practice in therapeutic care – Practice guide
Written by: Noel MacNamara Janise Mitchell
Reflective Practice is one of the 10 Essential Elements of Intensive Therapeutic Care. This guide has been developed to support Therapeutic Specialists to engage staff...
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A model for coaching staff in Intensive Therapeutic Care: A guide for therapeutic specialists and supervisors – Practice guide
A model for coaching staff in Intensive Therapeutic Care: A guide for therapeutic specialists and supervisors – Practice guide
Written by: Noel MacNamara
This guide has been developed for use by Therapeutic Specialists and Supervisors who have a role in supporting and developing the practice of staff. It...
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Coaching and mentoring – The art of giving feedback – Practice guide
Coaching and mentoring – The art of giving feedback – Practice guide
Written by: Noel MacNamara
This guide has been developed to support Therapeutic Specialists and Supervisors in Intensive Therapeutic Care in NSW in their development and support of staff. It...
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