Peter Halvorson began his behavioural support journey in 2011 and worked in both government and non-profit organisations that specialised in providing services for people with disabilities. Before becoming a behaviour practitioner, he was, for many years involved in direct and indirect support services for people with a disability. This included services providing community access/participation, supported accommodation and employment services.
Before moving to Australia in 2010, Peter accumulated experience through work with non-profit community organisations delivering government service contracts in Canada. These services focused on supporting employment and self-employment for people with multiple barriers to employment including those associated with disability, cultural/ethnic background, English as a second language, immigration, criminal records, mental health, and redundant skill sets.
Since immigrating to Australia Peter has been firmly entrenched in the disability support sector. Becoming a behaviour practitioner was not something he had envisioned, and it was still in its infancy as a profession in Australia. He was introduced to this profession while in the role of a community participation program coordinator for a disability provider. In 2011 a junior behaviour practitioner role became available within the NSW government, Family and Community Services (then Ageing Disability and Home Care ADHD) and he commenced the journey to become a behaviour practitioner through the established development program. This involved extensive professional development training and mentoring program with experienced behaviour specialists, case managers and allied health professionals.
Through this process Peter achieved proficiency with functional behaviour assessment, development of behaviour support plans and providing training and implementation support for a wide range of formal and informal carer situations. Peter has completed a Cert IV in Training and Assessment which supports development of training programs suited the person’s and their carer’s needs.
Given the high demand for services and complexity of the case presentation Peter diversified and expanded his skill sets to accommodate. He has developed extensive experience while being part of multidisciplinary teams including allied health (speech pathologists, occupational therapists, dietitians, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists, psychologists) and medical and mental health/psychiatric services. Through these experiences he has learned to better anticipate the type of collaboration that will be needed to assess and develop effective holistic behaviour plans. This ability supports the needs of the NDIS planning process which requires guidance in this area to ensure access to adequate supports is available within the persons funding.
In 2019 he was acknowledged for completion of the ADHC developed Positive Approach to Behaviour Support - core competency modules and assessments. This process involved completion of online training and assessment modules as well as direct work practice observational assessment and assessment of work samples (Behaviour assessments and Behaviour support plans)
Peter has been trained in systemic consultation, a process developed by Paul Roads, associate professor at Sydney University. The skills acquired provide the tools needed when supporting people who have complex systems issues which may be impacting on the ability to address behavioural concerns. Whilst with ADHC, Peter managed a project on the development of a group home system review process.
There is a great emphasis on ensuring behaviour assessment includes consideration of the effects of trauma on a person’s behaviours. Peter has attended numerous professional development seminars focussing on trauma informed practices and Dr Bruce Perry’s neuro-sequential model of therapeutics. He is experienced working with children, adolescents and adults who have experienced trauma and have developed plans using evidence-based trauma informed approaches.
Peter has worked extensively with people who have displayed problematic sexualised behaviours. He is experienced in administering sexual knowledge assessments, conducting person centred risk assessments, and developing management and education plans associated with these behaviours. He has completed professional development courses including sexuality program development for people with disabilities through Family Planning NSW.
Peter’s behaviour support experience has also provided him with extensive knowledge of regulated restrictive practices. He served as the behaviour specialist panel member for the ADHC Western Restricted Practice Authorisation panel as well as independent specialist for implementing service providers. He is well versed in the NDIS Quality and safeguarding commission behaviour support rules and regulations for restricted practices as well as the DCJ NSW Restrictive Practice Authorisation policies and procedures. He is currently a DCJ RPAP Independent Specialist and attends regular professional peer consultations with this team of professionals.
In 2017 Peter was certified as a trainer of the Crisis Prevention Institutes – Management of Actual and Potential Aggression (MAPA) system (formerly NvCI). This is an industry standard crisis intervention system which has been adopted by many NDIS service providers to upskill their direct care workers as the minimum competency for supporting people with challenging behaviours.
Peter’s case load in the first few years as a behaviour practitioner provided experience with complex behaviours while working with people within the now devolved large residential institutions. Having gained experience in this largely medical model help prepare him to work effectively with people in mental health and medical facilities. Peter regularly works with people who have had short to long-term admission to hospital or mental health facilities as well as those have frequent contact with mental health and ED presentations.
Having worked with many children and adolescents, I also have often worked with the education system. I have experience within the mainstream primary and high school environments as well a several special schools. This includes supporting people in the process of transitioning between primary and high school or between mainstream and specialist schools. This as often expanded to supporting people through transition from school to community support services and supported accommodation.
Transitions between service models is often a dauting and complex process for the person and their support system. Peter has years of experience supporting service providers and families to assess and develop suitable placements within the context of complex behaviour, health and disability presentation This includes providing reports with recommendation for Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA).
Peter has most recently been working to enhance his expertise in supporting people with mental health conditions such as borderline personality disorder (BPD). Having worked with several people with this diagnosis it became apparent that new approaches to behaviour support needed to be added to his existing skill set. Peter has been working with BPD specialist organisations, mental health services, medical/psychiatric emergency services and allied health professionals to develop collaborative approaches to help support better outcomes. Peter works within this support system to guide congruent procedures, skill development for carers and the people they support. Ultimately the culmination of this collaboration is incorporated into a behaviour support framework.