top of page

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.

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.

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.

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.

​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

Forensic Clients in AOD - What role does Trauma play?

Thurs 12 May 2016

Heather Carmichael

Senior Manager, ACSO’s COATS Program 

Implementing Trauma Informed Care into AOD Settings

Thurs 16 June 2016 

Assoc. Prof. Petra Staiger

School of Psychology, Deakin University 

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.

What does self care look like for those in leadership?
Often people fall into leadership roles because they have been able to manage themselves well professionally. What is not always acknowledged is that competence and confidence can be challenged for a time, leaving new leaders feeling isolated as they draw in new tools and supports to sustain them.
The panel presentation will draw on the lived experience of presenters from the AOD sector and will include:
- pitfalls to avoid
- practical strategies to help you land on your feet as a leader
- links to helpful frameworks and resources

Falling into Leadership

Tue 23 May 2017

Panel members

Integrating passion for clinical work into your new leadership role

Mon 17 July 2017

Shannon Bell, Beth Locke 

As we move into leadership and/or management roles, we often struggle to move on from the passion of our clinical work into managing of teams and programs. But do you need to?


The Change Agent Network will be running a webinar with a panel of leaders and managers within the AOD Sector who will discuss and present how you can utilise your passion to fuel and benefit your new role as a leader or manager. 


A discussion will be chaired with leaders from the Change Agent Network. This presentation, will explore how you can integrate your skills as a clinician into your role as a manager. Including: 


  • What clinical skills are transferable to managing a team  

  • How to build on and adapt your clinical skills and knowledge to leading a team 

  • How can knowledge used with clients about theories of change be applied to teams who are in the process of change  

  • How can working with complex client presentations inform your new leadership role  

  • What aspects of your clinical experience of grief and loss can be utilised when managing the transition from being a peer to a manager


This presentation will be most useful for those who are contemplating becoming or who have recently stepped into the position of senior or team leader and want to make the most of their clinical skills in their leadership role. 

Conflict and difference amongst team members can occur at any time, though the process of change can provide particular fuel for tensions. Team members may withdraw or act defensively so that an atmosphere of antagonism and blame displaces one of generosity and cooperation.


What role can leaders take during these times to overt and deal effectively with conflict in teams?


Heather Pickard has worked in the AOD sector for the past 20 years and has been involved in stewarding teams through turbulent times. She is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at SHARC and will be sharing some of her wisdoms and insights into this topic.


Clare Davies (Windana) has worked in the NFP sector for over 15 years and has managed teams in community services, Out of Home care, refugee and asylum seeker sector and AOD. Her work has focused on advocacy, policy, research and operations where she has led teams on large scale projects including establishment of new services and impactful growth initiatives.


Heather and Clare are both esteemed Change Agent Network alumna.


Some of the areas covered in this presentation include:


  • Preparing for change and forecasting the impacts on staff

  • Intervening early into challenging behaviours

  • Keeping a focus on goals, shared values and learning

  • Balancing the needs of the individual and the team

  • Managing high conflict

  • Holding the team and looking after yourself

Managing conflict in teams during times of change

Tue 29 August 2017

Clare Davies, Heather Pickard

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

bottom of page