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Trauma Informed Care

Trauma Informed Care has been described as a service delivery approach that is “informed about, and sensitive to, trauma-related issues... irrespective of the service provided and of whether experience of trauma is known to exist in individual instances” (pp.88, ASCA , 2012). Notably, trauma-informed care is a whole-of-organisation approach, uses a strength-based framework, and emphasises opportunities for clients to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment (MHCC, 2013).



Trauma-informed care differs importantly from trauma-specific, or trauma-focused service delivery, where the resolution of trauma and its sequelae are specifically targeted through clinical intervention. 


Trauma-informed care and practice describes an organisational approach to service delivery that is based on trauma theory, and for effective implementation requires the leadership of the organisation to engage in the process of change as well as staff and client involvement (MHCC, 2013).


A trauma-informed response is indicated regardless of whether trauma is believed to have resulted from a single-incident or complex trauma.


Trauma Informed Care is not asking staff to become trauma therapists, it is not about providing trauma processing, radical exposure therapy or other trauma focused methods to resolve trauma.


Trauma Informed Care is creating a service system that recognises the impact of trauma in the everyday life of the individual, creates psychological and physical safety for both staff and clients, provides systematic identification of trauma and develops the capacity for the service system to provide empathic and skilled response to reduce the distress associated with trauma history and associated symptoms.

If you would like further information regarding these projects please contact the Change Agent Network.

Trauma in Alcohol and Drug Settings Webinar Series 


This webinar series brings together experts in their nominated field who have a wealth of knowledge and experience to assist AOD workers in becoming more aware of the trauma issues associated with their clients.​

The Complexities of Working with Family Violence and Substance Abuse

Thurs 24 March 2016,

Laura Songphu

Crisis Support Advocate, Safe Steps, Family Violence Support Centre

Laura has worked in the social services sector for 6 years. Her background includes work in the areas of justice, child protection, youth, dual diagnosis, asylum seeker settlement and family violence. Laura is currently a Crisis Support Advocate at Safe Steps, where she is responsible for direct client practice, as well as contributing to external presentations and training. She will discuss working with victims of family violence who use substances, in addition to the perpetrators of violence who use substances.

Jo is a social worker and family therapist. Her past work has been in service delivery, clinical supervision, training and research and policy across child, youth and family services, housing and homelessness, family violence and alcohol and drug sectors. In 2009 she gained a Winston Churchill Fellowship to research best practices responses to adolescent family violence across the United States and Canada.  Jo will provide an overview of the issue of adolescent family violence and discuss the co-occurrence of alcohol and drug use, in particular which theoretical perspectives are useful and why a family systems model is important.  She will also explore safety and risk assessment and the use of safety planning.

​Adolescent Family Violence – using family systems and trauma
informed practice to support change

Thurs 14 April 2016

Jo Howard

Executive Manager, Child, Youth & Families, Kildonan UnitingCare

Trauma Informed Care in AOD Services

Mon 5 December 2016 

Dr Tamsin Short

Connect4Health Consortium

Dr. Tamsin Short is a clinical and forensic psychologist and qualified dual diagnosis clinician. She has worked in a range of settings, including community health, AOD, forensic mental health, private practice and the prisons. Tamsin is currently the Executive Director of Alcohol and Other Drug Services for Connect4Health – a partnership between the three community health services of Access Health and Community, Carrington Health and Link Health and Community. Tamsin has a particular interest in co-occurring mental health and substance use issues, and is passionate about reducing the stigma for clients with co-occurring conditions and supporting best practice treatment.

Implementing Trauma Informed Care into AOD Settings

Thurs 16 June 2016 

Assoc. Prof. Petra Staiger

School of Psychology, Deakin University 

Petra has worked in the area of mental health and addiction for the last 20 years. Her research and evaluation work is translational in nature and she is keen to contribute to improving client outcomes within the health service system.  She has been involved in the Change Agent Network's pilot on implementing trauma informed care into practice.


Her presentation will conclude the series by providing an overview on the role of trauma informed care in AOD practice and in particular how it differs from trauma focused therapy. Petra will also present preliminary results on the Change Agent Network's pilot on implementing trauma informed care into practice.

Heather is the Senior Manager of ACSO’s COATS Program, Victoria’s state wide forensic drug and alcohol assessment and referral service. Heather has a background in Social Work and addiction studies and has worked in the areas of Education, Policy, Workforce Development, and Forensic Mental Health.  She has 16 years experience working in a wide range of AOD services.

Forensic Clients in AOD - What role does Trauma play?

Thurs 12 May 2016

Heather Carmichael

Senior Manager, ACSO’s COATS Program 

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