How to recognise complex trauma in infants and children and promote wellbeing

Content type
Event date

13 December 2023, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm (AEDT)


Trina Hinkley, Ali Knight, Kathryn Lenton, Chris Dolman




Sensitivity warning

This content discusses complex trauma in children and infants and touches on child abuse and neglect and domestic and family violence so please take care while listening. 

If you think you would benefit from some support and would like to talk to a trained professional, please call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14. You can also reach out to Blue Knot Helpline, Redress Support Service on 1300 657 380 and 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732.

If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call Police on 000.

About this webinar

Complex trauma in early childhood is distinct from other kinds of trauma. It can manifest in ways which affect body and brain development, and lead to poor long-term outcomes if not addressed. Early identification and support, including through trauma-informed practice, is critical to supporting infants and children who have experienced complex trauma.

Effective trauma-informed practice can promote recovery and resilience in infants and children. However, it requires a comprehensive understanding of the signs and effects of complex trauma and the skills to hold protective conversations with parents and caregivers.

This webinar will explore:

  • the evidence about what complex trauma is, how it might present in children and how it can affect their development
  • how practitioners can recognise and respond to the effects of complex trauma in infants and children
  • how to have preventative and early intervention conversations with parents and caregivers of infants and children who have experienced complex trauma.

This webinar is of interest to professionals working with infants and children, and/or their caregivers across early learning and care services, maternal and child health and other family support services.

Please note: This is a re-run of a webinar that was first broadcast in August 2021. There will be no live facilitation or audience questions.

We encourage you to test your system before the webinar, and read our Frequently Asked Questions. A recording of this presentation will be made available shortly after the broadcast.

This webinar is co-produced by CFCA and Emerging Minds in a series focusing on children’s mental health. They are working together as part of the Emerging Minds: National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, which is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care under the National Support for Child and Youth Mental Health Program.

Emerging Minds logo

Related resources

Related resources


Dr Trina Hinkley’s background is in behavioural epidemiology and behaviour change, with a particular focus on the impacts of behaviour on wellbeing and other outcomes. Her experience includes research for not-for-profit and government organisations with a focus on making lasting change happen at a population level. She is skilled in stakeholder engagement, facilitation, knowledge translation, and program development, delivery and evaluation. Trina completed her doctoral thesis in 2011, where she examined multidimensional correlates of physical activity during early childhood. Her research has informed multiple sets of Australian and international guidelines and reports.

At the time of the original broadcast, Ali Knight was an Early Years Specialist at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Adelaide, South Australia. Alongside this, Ali worked as an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker in private practice with children, young people and their families. Ali has over 25 years of experience as a Social Worker, primarily in Health, where she has provided assessment and therapeutic services for infants, children and their families impacted by trauma and abuse. Ali is passionate about Infant Mental Health and has seen first-hand how timely therapeutic intervention can change a child’s trajectory.

At the time of the original broadcast, Kathryn Lenton was the Program Manager for the Australian Childhood Foundation in Tasmania. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work and a Master of Counselling and has been working in the mental health industry for 20 years. Kathryn’s clinical experience has included both clinical interventions and leadership in trauma therapy for children, adolescents and adults, disaster recovery, child protection, health social work, older persons care, community development, mental health in education, suicide postvention, and child and adolescent mental health. Kathryn has a particular interest in complex developmental trauma and the impact on children.


Chris Dolman, Senior Practice Development Officer, Emerging Minds

Chris Dolman is a social worker who has been working for the past 15 years with individuals, couples and families facing a broad range of concerns in their lives and relationships. Chris currently works with Emerging Minds and the National Workforce Centre for Child Mental Health, as well as a narrative therapist with Country Health SA, providing consultations via video link to people living in rural and remote South Australia. Previously Chris has worked as a counsellor, supervisor and manager in a family and relationships counselling service with Uniting Communities with a particular focus around responding to family violence and the effects of childhood sexual abuse. He holds a Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work and is a member of the Dulwich Centre Teaching Faculty.