Aussie Optimism

Aussie Optimism is an evidence-based mental health promotion program for children in primary and lower secondary schools. Aussie Optimism is based on Seligman’s theories of learned helplessness, and more generally on Positive Psychology. As such, Aussie Optimism focuses on building competencies in children, rather than alleviating problems.

kids drawing in classroom

Aussie Optimism is designed for teachers to use with a whole class in school over a term with one session a week. Aussie Optimism teaches practical skills and strategies relating to social and emotional wellbeing in children, and makes use of empirically validated psychological and educational techniques.

The content of our programs is developmentally appropriate for children of different ages, and has been extensively evaluated since being developed in 1997. Research indicates that Aussie Optimism:

  • reduces mental health difficulties
  • increases recovery from depressive disorders
  • reduces the incidence of suicidal ideation and behaviour
  • increases the recovery from suicidal ideation and behaviour
  • increases pro-social behaviour
  • reduces the likelihood of drinking and smoking at later stages

Our awards and research

Awards

  • Shortlisted for the Mental Health Commission Good Outcomes Awards (2013) – Category six – Dr Mark Rooney Award for improved outcomes in child youth mental health sponsored by the Commissioner for Children and Young People.
  • Suicide Prevention Australia’s LIFE Award in the Youth Category (2008)
  • Curtin University’s Division of Health Sciences’ Research Group of the Year (2004)

Past Research Projects

2013 – 2014: Aussie Optimism: Enhancing the effects of the Positive Thinking Program: A longitudinal evaluation.

2010-2013: Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills Program: Preventing Childhood Internalising disorders: 42 and 54 months follow-up.

2008-2009: Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills Program: Prevention of Internalizing Disorders in 9-10 year old children: Efficacy of the Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills Program at 30-month follow-up.

2007-2008: Aussie Optimism Secondary Dissemination

2004-2007: Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills Program Universal Randomised Controlled Trial   Prevention of internalising disorders in 8-9 year olds

2003-2006: Aussie Optimism Positive Thinking Skills program: The prevention of Depression in 8 to 9-year old children: a pilot study.

2002: Aussie Optimism Universal Randomised Controlled Dissemination Trial
Diffusion and dissemination of a mental health innovation in an educational setting

2001-2004: Aussie Optimism Parents and Families Program Universal Controlled Trial
Family-based mental health promotion for younger adolescents

2000-2002: Aussie Optimism Social Life Skills and Optimistic Thinking Skills Programs
Universal Randomised Controlled Trial
The prevention of internalising problems in children: The effectiveness of a universal version of the Aussie Optimism Program.

Research grants

2014-2016: $120,000 – Government of WA Mental Health Commission (Administering institution: Curtin University of Technology). Expanding the “Aussie Optimism” project in both metropolitan and rural Education Districts in Western Australia: Feelings and Friends and Positive thinking Program dissemination (Chief Investigators: Dr. R. Rooney, & Dr. R.T. Kane).

2013 – 2018: $1,144,920 – Government of WA Mental Health Commission (Administering institution: Curtin University of Technology). Expanding the “Aussie Optimism” project in both metropolitan and rural Education Districts in Western Australia. (Chief Investigators: Assoc. Prof. C. Roberts, Dr. R. Rooney, & Dr. R.T. Kane).

2010- 2013: $414,240.  Aussie Optimism Dissemination Project – Secondary Dissemination continued.  WA Mental Health Commission. (Roberts, C., Ho, M., Rooney, R., & Kane, R.)

2010 – 2012: $340,000, Healthway Project Grant. Enhancing the effects of the Positive Thinking Program: A longitudinal evaluation. ( Rooney, C. Roberts, R. Kane, M. Nesa, and S. Hassan).

2008- 2009: $214,209, Healthway Project Grant.  Preventing childhood internalising Disorders: 42 and 54-months follow-up (R.Rooney, C.Roberts, R.Kane, S. Silburn and Nesa, M).

2008 – 2010: $317,333 – Healthway Research Project Grant. Preventing challenging behaviours in children with intellectual disabilities. Chief Investigators: Assoc. Prof. C. Roberts, Prof M. Sanders, Mr T. Mazzuchelli, & Ms L. Studman (with associate investigators Dr. R.T. Kane, & Dr N. Walsh).

2006 – 2009: $562,207, WA Office of Mental Health.  Aussie Optimism Dissemination Project – Secondary Dissemination. (C. Roberts, R. Kane, R. Rooney, Y. Pintabona, & M. Nesa).

2006 – 2010: $121,988 – WA Office of Mental Health (Administering institution: Curtin University of Technology). Expanding the “Aussie Optimism” project in both metropolitan and rural Education Districts in Western Australia. (Chief Investigators: Assoc. Prof. C. Roberts, Dr. R.T. Kane, & Dr. R. Rooney).

Research books

Drake-Brockman, R. & Roberts, C. (2007). Aussie Optimism A Program for Parents and Families. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Green, L., Pophillat, E., Taylor, B., Rooney, R., Roberts, C., & Nesa, M. (2010). Aussie Optimism: Feelings and Friends Year 3. Student Resource. School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology.

Nesa, M., Rooney, R., Roberts C., & Pike, L. (2004). Aussie Optimism: Positive Thinking Program, Student booklet. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Pophillat, E., Taylor, B., Rooney, R., Roberts, C., & Nesa, M. (2006). Aussie Optimism: Feelings and Friends Manual. Student Resource. School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology.

Redmond, M., Nesa, M., Roberts, C., Rooney, R., & Taylor, B. (2006). Aussie Optimism: Whole School Program. Aussie Optimism Team File 2006. School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology, August 2006.

Roberts, C., Ballantyne, F. & van der Klift, P. (2014). Aussie Optimism Social Life Skills Student Booklet. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, C., Ballantyne, F. & van der Klift, P. (2014). Aussie Optimism Social Life Skills Teacher Resource. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, C., Drake-Brockman, R., & Pintabona, Y. (2007). Aussie Optimism Parents and Families: School Resource (CD-ROM). Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, C. & Ho, M.S. (2009). Aussie Optimism 1 day workshop: Social Life Skills & Optimistic Thinking Skills. Trainer’s Manual. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, R., Roberts, C., Cosgrove, S., Honston, K., Ludlow, T., Mar, D., Sanders, M. & van der Klift, P. (2014). Aussie Optimism Optimistic Thinking Skills Student Booklet. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, R., Roberts, C., Cosgrove, S., Honston, K., Ludlow, T., Mar, D., Sanders, M. & van der Klift, P. (2014). Aussie Optimism Optimistic Thinking Skills Teacher Resource. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, R., Roberts, C., Cosgrove, S., Honston, K., Ludlow, T., Mar, D., Sanders, M. & van der Klift, P. (2014). Aussie Optimism Optimistic Thinking Skills Teacher Resource. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, C. & Rudge, L. (2007). Aussie Optimism Optimistic Thinking Skills Trainer’s Manual. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, C. & Rudge, L. (2015). Aussie Optimism Social Life Skills Trainer’s Manual. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, C., West, D., & Campbell, M. (2009). Aussie Optimism. Resilience Skills. Teacher Resource. Peth, WA: Curtin University of Technology.

Roberts, C., West, D., & Campbell, M. (2009). Aussie Optimism. Resilience Skills. Student Booklet. Peth, WA: Curtin University of Technology.

Rooney, R., Rudge, L., Snowball, L., Roberts, C., Pike, L., Mullan, A., & Nesa, M. (2004). Aussie Optimism: Positive thinking Program, Teacher Resource. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Rooney, R., Rudge, L., Snowball, L., Roberts, C., Pike, L., Mullan, A., & Nesa, M. and Hassan, S. (2009). Aussie Optimism: The Enhanced Positive thinking Program, Teacher Resource. Perth: Curtin University of Technology.

Pophillat, E., Taylor, B., Rooney, R., Roberts, C., & Nesa, M. (2006). Aussie Optimism: Feelings and Friends Manual. Student Resource. School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology.

Pophillat, E., Taylor, B., Rooney, R., Roberts, C., & Nesa, M. (2006). Aussie Optimism: Feelings and Friends Manual. Teacher Resource. School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology.

Veloso, B., Pophilat, E., Taylor, B., Rooney, R., Roberts, C., & Nesa, M. (2006). Aussie Optimism: Feelings and Friends Manual Year 1-2. Student Resource. School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology.

Veloso, B., Pophilat, E., Taylor, B., Rooney, R., Roberts, C., & Nesa, M. (In Prep). Aussie Optimism: Feelings and Friends Manual Year 1-2. Student Resource. School of Psychology, Curtin University of Technology.


Ordering Aussie Optimism resources

Available resources

Each of the programs are supplemented by the following resources for teachers, students and parents:

  • Teacher Resource, which includes the program’s rationale, links to the Curriculum Framework, key messages for each module, teacher notes and materials, recommended and optional activities, cross-learning area applications, and information for parents.
  • Student Booklet, which includes resource sheets, practice exercises and posters displaying key messages.
  • Parent Booklet, which includes program information and home activities is only available for the Feelings and Friends programs.

Once you have completed the training workshop and have received your accreditation number, you will be able to order our resources.

Prices and ordering

Please download our price list and order form [.pdf 386KB] and email completed forms to our workshop coordinator at Aussie.Optimism@curtin.edu.au or fax to +61 8 9266 2464.


Contact Aussie Optimism

Social Life Skills and Optimistic Thinking Skills enquiries:

Natalie Baugham, Research Coordinator
Email: Natalie.Baughman@curtin.edu.au
Phone: +61 8 9266 2757

Associate Professor Rosie Rooney, Program Director
Email: R.Rooney@curtin.edu.au

Positive Thinking Skills and Feelings and Friends enquiries:

Dr Shari Hassan, Research Coordinator
Email: S.Hassan@curtin.edu.au
Phone: +61 8 9266 3463

Associate Professor Rosie Rooney, Program Director
Email: R.Rooney@curtin.edu.au

Parents and Families enquiries:

Associate Professor Rosie Rooney, Program Director
Email: R.Rooney@curtin.edu.au

Ruth Drake-Brockman
Email: Ruth.Drake-Brockman@curtin.edu.au

Training workshop and ordering resources enquiries:

Nethalie Coswatte, Workshops Coordinator (Monday and Friday)
Email: Aussie.Optimism@curtin.edu.au
Phone: +61 8 9266 2465