Session Detail

Outdoors Victoria Conference

Bush Adventure Therapy

Integrating Social Work and Counselling into an Outdoor Education and Guiding Practice

Thursday 26th May

11.30am – 12:20pm 

Session 1


Health & Wellbeing


Joshua McLean & Shelley Wright

Come join Geelong Adventure Specialists (GAS) for an informative and insightful discussion around the use of a targeted therapeutic approach in the outdoors.

GAS has provided specialty outdoor programs and experiences since 2013. In 2017 GAS became NDIS accredited, proudly contributing to the provision of diverse and innovative support options in the Geelong Region.

Since then they have seen a growing demand for their therapeutic supports that incorporate nature-based approaches. Their team now facilitates a wide range of outdoor experiences, individually tailored to meet the unique needs of each participant/ group.

Some of the organisations and businesses that they currently work with:

  • Melbourne Legacy
  • Adventure Works Australia
  • Victoria Police
  • The Salvation Army
  • Mackillop Education
  • Barwon Child Youth & Family
  • Deakin University
  • The Gordon TAFE
  • Cottage by the Sea

About the Presenters

Jeff was born in Boston, Massachusetts and grew up experiencing the natural wonders and landscapes of the Northeast USA. As a student, he studied ecology, geography and natural history and developed a passion for education, sustainability and advocating for wild places and wild creatures. His love for Nature eventually drew him to the rugged and majestic mountains, forests and coastlines of Oregon where he worked in community environment programs focusing on education, conservation and ecological restoration.

Jeff moved to Australia in 2008 and was awestruck by the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef, the ancient landscapes of Central Australia and the forests and highlands of Tasmania and Victoria. Since coming to Melbourne he has earned a Master’s degree in Environment & Sustainability from Monash University. He has worked in environmental education, community development, permaculture and community mental health. Currently he is studying ecological psychology and exploring the benefits of Nature connection and forest therapy with clients.

Growing up as a migrant kid in Melbourne’s polluted industrial western suburbs, George fell in love with Victoria’s natural places, with every family picnic and school excursion. A weekend school bushwalk in 1977 to Wilsons Promontory’s at the impressionable age of 15, to Sealers Cove, led by Monash Uni naturalists, set George on a lifetime quest to explore wild natural places and rivers! Studying Agricultural Science, George got involved in many hands-on volunteer conservation & naturalist groups.

His involvement in native freshwater fish conservation efforts/groups led him to a major in fish ecology and environmental science in his undergraduate degree. George has made a long career as an environmental educator and ranger, involving many tangible and longitudinal bushland & wetland ecological restoration and conservation management projects; particularly with near 4 decades at La Trobe University’s Wildlife Sanctuary and Reserves.

George is driven about practical things we can do to support local biodiversity & wildlife, through indigenous gardening choices, right up to taking community revegetation & bushland management action, in our neighbourhood public land and reserves. As an avid wildlife watcher, George is passionate about re-growing habitat for our local animals, through understanding their basic ecological needs, with an emphasis on our local urban environment.

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