SEED Program: The development of a program that has enabled the learning and growth of staff in the response to a community crisis.


  • Maria Therese Mackay University of Wollongong Queen Margaret University
  • Padmini Pai Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
  • Stuart Emslie Milton Ulladulla Hospital, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District
  • Andrea Knezevic University of Wollongong
  • Jacinta Mackay Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District



This paper aims to share a program that took a whole-hospital approach in considering the wellbeing of staff at a time of recovery following the 2019–2020 bushfires. The SEED Program enlisted a person-centred participatory methodology that was embedded within a transformational learning approach. This methodology included collaboration, authentic participation, critical reflection, critical dialogue and listening where the staff voice was the driving factor in the development of strategies for recovery. The SEED Program resulted in the development of five initiatives that included four strategies and a celebration event where staff celebrated their New Year’s Eve in February 2020. The four strategies included the establishment of a quiet room, coffee buddies, Wellness Warriors and 24/7 Wellness. The outcomes from the SEED Program resulted in the development of a more person-centred culture and transformation of staff perspectives in how they understood their role in their learning and learning of others in recovery and support at a time of crisis. The key learnings were the effect of authentic collaboration, the benefit from enabling authentic leadership at all levels within a hospital, and the power of a staff connection to the ‘CORE’ values of the hospital and Local Health District. In conclusion, the staff involved hold the hope that others may benefit from their experience of transformational learning in creating more person-centred workplace cultures while supporting each other to move forward during a crisis. The limitation of the SEED Program was that it was a bespoke practice innovation designed in the moment, responding to an identified need for the staff following a crisis in the local community rather than a formal research approach to meeting the needs of this group of staff.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Maria Therese Mackay, University of Wollongong Queen Margaret University

Maria Mackay is currently the Director of Work Integrated Learning and Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing, University of Wollongong. Prior to this, she had an extensive career as a nurse, midwife and health manager in the public health service in paediatrics, midwifery, aged and community care. Maria is involved with the local and international practice development and person-centred communities in the delivery practice development schools with the Foundation of Nursing Studies, Person-centred Leadership Program in Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and consultation with services on developing person-centred cultures.

Padmini Pai, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District

Dr Padmini Pai is a project manager and senior social worker in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District. She has a background in developing cultures that are enabled by living your virtues and is passionate about enabling others to realise thier full potential through living authentically.

Stuart Emslie, Milton Ulladulla Hospital, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District

Operations Manager / Director of Nurisng and Midwifery

Andrea Knezevic, University of Wollongong

Social Work Student

Jacinta Mackay, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District

Jacinta is a research assistant and registered nurse.


Archibald, D, Kellam, H, Stodel, E & Puddester, D 2011, ‘Evaluation of online health and wellness resources for healthcare professionals’, International Journal of Advanced Corporate Learning, vol. 4, no. 2, pp. 18–23.

Avolio, B, Weber, T & Walumbwa, F 2011, Leadership: Current theories, research, and future directions. Annual Reviews, California, USA.

Brown, B 2010, The gifts of imperfection, Hazelden Publishing, Minnesota, USA.

Brown, B 2019, Dare to lead, Ebury Publishing, London, UK.

Gengoux, G & Roberts, L 2018, ‘Enhancing wellness and engagement among healthcare professionals’, Academic psychiatry: The journal of the American Association of Directors of Psychiatric Residency Training and the Association for Academic Psychiatry, vol. 42, no.1, pp. 1–4.

Hahtela, N, Mccormack, B, Doran, D, Paavilainen, E, Slater, P, Helminen, M & Suominen, T 2017, ‘Workplace culture and patient outcomes: Whatʼs the connection?’, Nursing Management, vol. 48, no. 12, pp. 36–44.

Howie, P. & Bagnall, R 2013, ‘A beautiful metaphor: Transformative learning theory’, International Journal of Lifelong Education, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 816–836.

McCormack, B & Mccormack, T 2017, Person-centred practice in nursing and health care: Theory and practice, 2nd ed, Wiley Blackwell, West Sussex, UK.

Mezirow, J 2009, ‘Transformative learning theory’, in J Mezirow & E W Taylor (eds.), Transformative Learning in Practise: Insights from Community, Jossey Bass, California, USA.

Polit, D & Beck, C 2012, Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice, 9th ed, Wolters Kluwer Health/Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Philadelphia.

Ranse, J & Lenson, S 2012, ‘Beyond a clinical role: Nurses were psychosocial supporters, coordinators and problem solvers in the Black Saturday and Victorian bushfires in 2009’, Australasian Emergency Nursing Journal, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 156–163.

Rokkas, P, Cornell, V & Steenkamp, M 2014, ‘Disaster preparedness and response: Challenges for Australian public health nurses’, Nursing and Health Sciences, vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 60–66.




How to Cite

Mackay, M. T., Pai, P., Emslie, S., Knezevic, A., & Mackay, J. (2021). SEED Program: The development of a program that has enabled the learning and growth of staff in the response to a community crisis. Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning, 4(1).