Symposium on Severe Behaviours of Concern

Please note due to the recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Victoria we have chosen to postpone the Symposium on Severe Behaviours of Concern. We are still very keen to bring this key event to Geelong and Ballarat and will provide a new date as soon as possible.

Join us in Geelong

Australia’s foremost specialists in behaviour analysis, paediatric psychiatry, neurodevelopmental disorders and education are coming to Geelong!

Geelong – Friday 17 September
GMHBA Stadium – Captain’s Room

Expand your understanding, grow your network, and gain unprecedented access to expert advice. This symposium is a must for allied health workers, medical professionals, teachers and others with exposure to severe behaviours.

“I think this should be rolled out to the entire sector.”

Keynote Speakers

Dr Erin Leif, Dr Jose Molina, Dr Chidambaram Prakash and Severe Behaviour Clinician, Taylor Neel, will each present on the nature of behavioural crises, examine the most common evidence-based crisis intervention strategies, and discuss the best-practice treatment models available. Each session will include a Q&A, providing you with an opportunity to speak directly with the presenters.

The Symposium will also include a special presentation from a parent’s perspective. They will share their point of view as a caregiver experiencing severe behaviours first hand, as well as discussing how they have navigated the various systems (NDIS, school, services, etc) to achieve the best possible outcome for their child.


8.30am – 9.30am - Registration

Registration commences at 8.30am. Tea and coffee will be available.

9.30am – 9.45am - Welcome

Irabina CEO, Debra Goldfinch, will join us to welcome all attendees and introduce the Symposium.

9.45am – 11.00am - Dr Erin Leif
How Can We Support Children Who Display Severe Behaviours of Concern?

The number of children diagnosed with severe behaviour disorders is rapidly rising, and many parents, teachers, and professionals report they struggle to adequately respond. Research consistently shows the most effective behaviour support strategies are those that are informed by a functional behaviour assessment (FBA) and emphasise the teaching of new skills. In this presentation, Dr Leif will describe the underpinning assumptions of the FBA model, and review strategies for conducting FBAs that are brief, safe, and person-centred. She will then describe a strengths-based, skill-based approach for supporting children who display severe behaviours of concern.

Dr Erin Leif is a Board-Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) and Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education. She is currently interested in research evaluating effective tactics for training scientist-practitioners to engage in evidence-based practice in real world settings.

Presented by Dr Erin Leif, PhD, BCBA-D
Senior Lecturer and Educational Researcher, Monash University

11.00am – 11.30am Morning Tea

At 11.00am we’ll take a 30 minute break to enjoy morning tea, all of which will be provided.

11.30am – 12.45pm - Dr Jose Molina
The Nature of Behavioural Crises and Best-Practice Treatment

Severe behaviours such as aggression, self-injury, property destruction, pica, and elopement are common among young people with autism and other neuro-developmental disorders.

These severe behaviours present a significant risk to individuals and their caregivers, particularly during behavioural crises. Behavioural crises occur when caregivers and services are no longer able to cope with an individual’s behavioural presentation due to an escalation of their behaviours of concern, changes in the capacity of caregivers and services to manage the existing behaviours, or a combination of both.

A registered clinical psychologist and member of the Australian Psychological Society, Dr Jose Molina holds a doctorate in clinical psychology, a master’s degree in clinical psychology, bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology,

In his presentation, Dr Jose Molina will explore the nature of behavioural crises, examine the most common evidence-based crisis intervention strategies, and discuss the best-practice treatment models available.

Presented by Dr Jose Molina, PhDPsych (Clin)
Registered Clinical Psychologist and Chief Practitioner, Irabina Autism Services

12.45pm – 1.30pm Lunch

Take a break to network with fellow attendees and our presenters. Lunch will be fully catered.

1.30pm – 2.00pm - Dr Chidambaram Prakash
Nuanced Medication Use in Managing Agitation and Aggression

Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnoses have been increasing annually. As diagnoses rise and the prevalence of severe behaviours increase, there is a fundamental need for effective therapeutic and pharmacologic methods to prevent and treat aggression and to improve outcomes in this disorder.

Dr Chidambaram Prakash is a pre-eminent thinker and practitioner in paediatric psychiatry. He has worked with children and adolescents from 4 to 18 years of age and has extensive experience in neurodevelopmental disorders.

In this presentation, Dr Chidambaram Prakash will share his expertise and describe the role of nuanced medication use in managing agitation and aggression. Please note this session will be presented digitally.

Pre-recorded and presented by Dr Chidambaram Prakash, MBBS; DPM (NIMHANS); FRANZCP; Cert of Advanced Training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (RANZCP)
Authorised Psychiatrist, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne
Principal Hospital Psychiatrist, Mental Health, The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne

2.00pm – 2.45pm - Case Study
Deep Dive into the Experiences of a Parent

Clinicians typically only see a small fraction of the lives of their clients and those families affected. To provide attendees with a more rounded understanding, we will be joined by a parent to share their perspective.

Speaking with our CEO, Debra Goldfinch, the parent will share their point of view as a caregiver experiencing severe behaviours first hand, as well as providing insight into how they have navigated the various educational and government systems to achieve the best possible outcome for their child.

This honest, down to earth discussion will assist you to more fully understand the parent’s journey and better identify their needs at each stage.

2.45pm – 3.15pm Afternoon Tea

We’ll take a short break to enjoy afternoon tea.

3.15pm – 4.15pm - Taylor Neel
Safety and Behaviour Response (SABR)

Severe behaviour includes regular displays of aggressive behaviour, self-harming and harming others. SABR theory and practice will assist in the prevention, management and de-escalation of crisis situations associated with severe challenging behaviours.

In this session Taylor Neel will model the effective use of behaviour intervention strategies. She will address how to recognise and reduce the likelihood of crisis situations, implement appropriate de-escalation strategies, and take appropriate actions following crisis situations to minimise the probability of future crises.

SABR is an internationally recognised physical training program suitable for anyone regularly caring for or working with children displaying Severe Behaviours of Concern. At its core is the safety and protection of both the child and the person providing care. Taylor Neel is one of only a few fully qualified and experienced SABR trainers in Australia.

Taylor has worked in the social work and disability sector for 10 years. Initially at the Marcus Autism Center in Atlanta, in 2018 Taylor Neel moved to Australia to bring her understanding of autism and severe behaviours to Irabina Autism Services and expand the Severe Behaviour Program.

Presented by Taylor Neel, MEd Applied Behaviour Analysis, BA Social Work
Severe Behaviour Clinician and Specialist Services Clinic Operations Manager, Irabina Autism Services

4.15pm - Close

The Symposium will conclude at 4:15pm.

“Thank you all for the time and effort in providing education on such an important topic. Your passion was obvious, especially during question time.”

Book Your Tickets Now

GMHBA Stadium

Join us on Thursday 17 June 2021 at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong.


Federation Uni

Join us on Friday 18 June 2021 at Federation University in Ballarat.



What are Severe Behaviours of Concern?

The term “severe behaviours of concerns” is generally used to refer to behaviours that can result in injury to self or others, or that can significantly impair functioning and health. Individuals typically display multiple types of behaviours of concern, and in many cases these behaviours can be chronic, and potentially life-threatening.

These severe behaviours present a significant risk for individuals and their family, negatively impacting on their physical, emotional, and social well-being and overall quality of life. Research suggests that the presence of severe behaviours of concern is a major stressor for individuals with a disability and their families, and these behaviours are often cited as the primary reason for referral to intervention services.

Who is this event for?

Anyone can attend the event but the content from the Symposium is at an advanced level and will be most useful for teachers, allied health workers, doctors and students.

Is any catering provided?

Yes, the day is fully catered. We’ll provide morning and afternoon tea as well as lunch.

Can I store my bag?

Please refrain from bringing your personal belongings to the conference venue where possible; only bring minimal items in a small bag. Attendees are responsible for their own personal possessions.

How many CPD hours will I obtain from attending the conference?

It is up to individual psychologists to assess how CPD events meet the requirements of their individual learning plan, please visit the APS website for further details.

When will I get my conference certificate of attendance?

A certificate of attendance will be sent by email to all attendees the week after the conference.

Where do I register and get my name badge?

Please make your way to the meeting room between 8.30 – 9.30am. Our friendly staff will welcome you at the door, register your name and provide you with your name badge as well as the handout notes for the day.

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