$1.6 million in research funding has translated into the three Mindfields programs. In addition to the development of the program materials, the research has generated a plethora of scholarly outputs, including 3 books, 15 book chapters and 39 journal articles authored by Professor Carroll and/or Dr Bower. In undertaking the research projects, a total of 124 facilitators and teachers and 713 young people and students have participated in the programs to date.
The key industry stakeholder, to date, in the translation of the fundamental research into the Mindfields interventions has been the Queensland Department of Education and Training (DET). DET has been a partner organisation on the three ARC Linkage Projects relating to the Mindfields programs, and the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre and several Queensland state schools have been directly involved in piloting the Mindfields programs. In addition, the Queensland Departments of Communities, Child Safety & Disability Services, Emergency Services and Transport were involved in the original ARC Linkage project, which funded the development of the Mindfields Intensive program.
Interest in the program emerged from other government groups including school and youth justice initiatives, positive learning centres, Multidisciplinary community hub, Churches of Christ Care, Life Without Barriers, Maryborough and Cairns Education districts, Edmund Rice Centre Education, the Department of Education (Far North Queensland branch), Office of Crime Prevention, the Graffiti Strategy, the WA Department of Premiers and Cabinet, and Mackay and District Education Centre. This interest generated the option for access to the program via the internet. A second version of Mindfields was developed to incorporate the delivery of the screening tool online and to make the program more generic for both juvenile justice and education users.
The original Mindfields program (Mindfields Intensive) was developed from an ARC Linkage Grant (2003-2005) with the then Queensland Government Departments’ of Fire and Rescue Service, Transport, Communities and Education as a self-regulatory intervention for young people with offending histories to empower them to challenge their own actions, make informed choices about their behaviours and create positive changes to their lives. It was the first evidence-based program to take such a comprehensive approach to the problems of young people to change their behaviour, it clearly demonstrates theory-practice links and it provides highly engaging materials to young people with low literacy and poor motivation. Using a web-based interface, educational and therapeutic strategies are delivered to young offenders via cartoon characters and video-role models.
The original version of Mindfields was trialed in community settings and agencies including Youth Justice Offices, Reconnect, Mercy Family Services and Jabiru. The turnover of staff and intermittent funding for some groups proved difficult as did the complexity of data collection and transfer methods.
‘Mindfields 2.0’ provided considerable improvement on the first version in terms of reliability and user-friendliness. Interest by school professionals in the emotional resilience components within Mindfields Intensive led to further development of universal programs for whole of class usage. As a result of the increased interest for the program to be used in schools for the mainstream population the Mindfields High School Junior (MHSJ) program was developed (ARC Linkage Grant 2011-2014) incorporating the basic principles and some adapted materials from Mindfields 2.0. MHSJ addressed the need from the education sector for an intervention that addresses the unique issues of high school students and overcame the sector’s reluctance to use the Mindfields Intensive program due to its references to, and examples of, youth offenders.
Latest Program Developments
An ARC Linkage Grant (2015-2017) was won by UQ and DET to develop the Mindfields High School Senior program (MHSS), aimed at students in Years 10 and 11. Schools are becoming increasingly concerned with the social and emotional wellbeing of the young people in their care and research has found a clear link between the social and emotional development of adolescents and their educational attainment. Students can develop social and emotional skills when they are explicitly taught about attitudes, behaviours, and communication styles that build self-confidence, esteem, tolerance, and respect of self and others. Utilising the same format as MHSJ, MHSS will encompass eight modules, which will focus on concepts such as setting life goals, preparing for life after school, understanding self and others, acceptance and resilience, and giving back. See the video below for a taster of the Mindfields High School Senior program.
The Mindfields Team at The University of Queensland (UQ) have spent the last 13 years researching, developing and piloting three evidence-based programs - Mindfields Intensive, Mindfields High School Junior and Mindfields High School Senior - to assist young people in schools and community settings to find and build on their strengths, to develop the skills needed for social and emotional wellbeing, and promote strategies for a positive and meaningful life - see http://mindfields.com.au.