RMHC Malta

RMHC Conference 2022

Trauma-informed practice in adolescent care

More than 100 social care professionals, including counselling representatives from the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) and students and staff from the University of Malta’s Department of Counselling, attended Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC)’s first ever conference in Malta in April 2022. Themed ‘Trauma-informed practice in adolescent care’, the event was aimed at frontline professionals and NGOs working in the social welfare field.

Trauma-informed care creates a safe environment where past and current experiences of trauma can be understood and processed to support safety, choice, and control in people’s lives.

The half-day conference, held under a collaboration between RMHC and FSWS, discussed how trauma-informed care allows professionals to create a safe space in which the client’s past or current traumas can be understood and processed so that the required support can be delivered.

Dr Mariella Mangion, Consultant Community Paediatrician and RMHC Malta board member outlined the effects of childhood trauma on the developing brain. The health characteristics of children care for in the community or residential homes were discussed by Dr Kevin Borg, Consultant Paediatrician within the Directorate for Alternative Care at FSWS. The effects of trauma-informed care on young people were examined throughout a presentation by Dr Roberta Attard, Clinical Psychologist and Head of Department of Counselling, University of Malta.

A panel discussion involving the keynote speakers and Ms Remenda Grech, Director of Alternative Care within FSWS ensued, during which participants were able to put questions to the panel.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Kevin Borg is a Consultant Paediatrician with a special interest in safeguarding children, as awarded by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health after completing subspecialist training under the supervision of leading experts in London and Malta. Dr Borg also graduated from Warwick University after reading a Master’s in Child Health, where his research focused on the safeguarding of children. He has published material relating to this field locally and internationally. He also forms part of the Safeguarding Commission of the Catholic Church within the Archdiocese of Malta. Dr Borg currently leads the Looked after Children Healthcare Service (LACHS), established in 2021, under the Directorate for Alternative Care (Children and Youths) within the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS). This service offers holistic health assessments of minors residing in residential care or foster care and aims to improve their health outcomes.
Dr Mariella Mangion graduated as a medical doctor from the University of Malta. She furthered her studies in child health and obtained her paediatric qualifications from the UK in 1996. In 2011, she read for a Master’s in Public Health at the University of Malta. Her dissertation focused on the adolescent mental health outcomes associated with child maltreatment. Dr Mangion is Consultant Community Paediatrician with special interest in the safeguarding of children at Mater Dei Hospital. She is the lead professional for child protection issues within the health sector and is responsible for the formulation of child protection guidelines and practice. She works in close collaboration with other agencies involved in the field of safeguarding of children. Dr Mangion also delivers training to undergraduate and postgraduate students within the medical sector and has published articles in local and international medical journals.
Dr Roberta Attard is a chartered Clinical Psychologist with training in Social Work, Applied Systemic Theory, and other therapeutic modalities. She has been active for many years in supporting children and young persons with issues related to attachment, abuse, developmental trauma, gender identity, loss, and bereavement, among others and in assisting in the development of therapeutic services to provide trans-disciplinary intervention. This work has resulted in experience spanning 25 years in residential and foster care, child protection, child welfare related issues, abuse involving minors, Juvenile Court, Family Court, and Criminal court. Dr Attard is a full-time lecturer, supervisor, practicum coordinator and Head of Department with the Department of Counselling of the University of Malta and consultant for various boards and state services seeking to provide aid to persons experiencing situations which cause vulnerability. She is also a founder member of the Safeguarding Commission of the Catholic Church within the Archdiocese of Malta. She is especially interested in exploring innovative ways of researching the experience of humankind, in whichever form this may express itself, in the pursuit of wellbeing for all.


"RMHC not only provides a recurring top service through its Learning Centre, but it has upped the ante in organising a conference on trauma in adolescent care, sadly a common consequence of bullying. It was an opportunity to meet fellow stakeholders and listen to engaging talks by top speakers.”

Dr Aaron Zammit Apap

Founder & Secretary General, bBrave

“The atmosphere was excellent, with networking taking place among students and professionals from many different sectors, in a great venue. The expertise of the speakers was evident, and their insightful delivery of the content provided much food for thought.”

Julian Galea

Youth Worker & Master’s in counselling student

“The conference was professionally conducted, mostly highlighting the IMPORTANCE of trauma- informed practice and how it can be crucial in understanding and supporting our clients, especially our young people.”

Daniel Portelli

Social Worker, FSWS Gozo