Trauma-informed care in child/family welfare services

CFCA Paper No. 37 – February 2016

Moving forward

Much of the literature identified that the paradigm shift towards implementation of a trauma-informed approach to care needed to include commitment from political leadership at all levels (Ashmore, 2013; Bateman et al., 2013; Kramer et al., 2015).

In Australia, the Mental Health Coordinating Council (Bateman et al., 2013) has articulated the requirement for a policy statement from national and state leaders endorsing the concept of trauma as a priority mental health issue and supporting the transition to a trauma-informed service system. This would ensure that there is an identifiable commitment from governments to support the need for trauma-informed service systems.

The broad dissemination of information about trauma-informed, evidence-based best practice has been identified as an important feature of developing the evidence base around trauma (Kramer et al., 2015). Development of a nationally based resource, such as SAMHSA's National Center for Trauma-Informed Care and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, would provide an Australian-based network of information to support policy development and service delivery and to enable the use of what is currently known about trauma-informed services in different health and human service sectors. Having central resources such as these, is instrumental in shifting human service systems towards a trauma-informed approach to service delivery.7 Australia does not yet have a body with such a specific focus but extensive work has been undertaken by organisations such as the Mental Health Coordinating Council and Adults Surviving Child Abuse, among others, to help shape behavioural health policy towards incorporating an understanding of the damaging effects of trauma into policy and service delivery approaches.

Although there are some resources and tools now available to support guidance towards trauma-informed systems of care in Australia (Bateman et. al., 2013), there does not appear to be an overarching trauma framework to support a shift in a consistent way. As noted earlier, organisations in Australia have recognised the need for trauma-informed services and interventions but the current array of methods, models and interventions on offer and in use do not support a coordinated and common approach that would ensure trauma-informed has a consistent meaning and interpretation in service delivery.