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Tree of Life Network

What is the Tree of Life Network?

Koomarri in collaboration with the Dulwich Centre Foundation, is piloting the Tree of Life Network project which includes workshops, individual planning sessions and a peer support group for people with cognitive disability.

The Tree of Life is a hopeful, strengths based approach to working with people who have experienced hard times. It is an evidence based narrative therapy approach used nationally and internationally with children, young people and adults with and without cognitive disability.  Tree of Life enables people to uncover and celebrate aspects of themselves, share and grow positive identities and experience a sense of expertise, respect and achievement in their life.

Download main brochure and easy english brochures - 'about the project' and 'is this for me?'

Who is the project for?

The project is aimed at people with a mild or borderline cognitive disability who do not have an NDIS plan. 

Cognitive disability includes Intellectual Disability, Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome or Acquired Brain Injury.

The approach will particularly benefit people experiencing hard times including long term unemployment, social isolation, are at risk of homelessness or criminal justice involvement.

How will the project benefit participants?

Pilot participants will benefit from three stages of support in the project:

  1. Tree of Life workshops will enable people to speak about their lives in ways that make them stronger. It involves people drawing their own ‘tree of life’ in which they get to speak of their ‘roots’ (where they come from), their skills and knowledges, their hopes and dreams, as well as the special people in their lives. The participants then join their trees into a ‘forest of life’ and, in groups, discuss some of the ‘storms’ that affect their lives and ways that they respond to these storms, protect themselves, and each other.

  2.  Person centred planning sessions will enable participants to create a plan of action to achieve their hopes and dreams identified in the Tree of Life workshops.  The facilitator will work with participants and their supporters to strengthen support for the person’s hopes and dreams. 

  3.  Tree of Life networks will enable participants to share their progress, jointly solve emerging problems and celebrate progress towards their hopes and dreams.  The networks will meet regularly for up to 6 months and supported to continue conversations online. 

The project will also include a one day training session in May 2018 for community support practitioners on incorporating the Tree of Life approach in their day to day practice and adapting the approach to the needs of people with cognitive disability.

Who is delivering the project?

Kate Pensa, Senior Practitioner with Koomarri will facilitate the workshops and networks.  Kate has over 20 years in the disability sector and completed extensive disability and community related studies.

The project will be evaluated by Barbara Chevalier, University of Canberra who has extensive academic experience teaching health education and community development and coordinating professional experience. 

The professional development training will be delivered by Kate Pensa and Dr David Denborough, Community worker, teacher and writer/editor for Dulwich Centre. David is Coordinator of the Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work with the University of Melbourne.  David co-developed the Tree of Life approach in partnership with REPSSI ( 

When is the timing of the project? 

Eight workshops will be run between July 2017 and March 2018:

Our next workshop be held Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 November 2017.

Further workshops will be scheduled for 2018.

Future workshops will be scheduled depending on participants’ registered interest. We will publish confirmed workshops on and advise registered participants.

Service providers can arrange workshops to be run for their service users (5 - 8 participants per group).  These can be run as two full day workshops or four half day workshops.

Three hour person centred planning sessions will be facilitated between August 2017 and March 2018.

Monthly network meetings will run from September 2017.

: There is no cost for participants who meet the eligibility criteria of having a mild or borderline cognitive disability who do not have an NDIS plan. 

We will consider running additional workshops on a fee for service basis for people with disability who have NDIS funding - depending on interest.

Register interest

To refer yourself, a family member or someone you support to this pilot project, or to register for the one day staff development training, please send us your details (right hand side of screen) or email attention of Fiona McIntosh.

If you have any further questions about the Tree of Life project, please contact Fiona McIntosh on 6280 6143 or  We are happy to talk about the project at your community or network meetings.

This project has been funded through the NDIS ACT Information, Linkages and Capacity Building 2017-2018 grants round.