“Trauma is an almost universal experience of public mental health and substance abuse consumers; the need to address it has become essential for the growth and recovery of trauma survivors.”
Trauma Informed Care and Practice (TICP) is an approach which recognises and acknowledges trauma and its prevalence, alongside awareness and sensitivity to its dynamics, in all aspects of service delivery.
TICP is grounded in and directed by a thorough understanding of the neurological, biological, psychological and social effects of trauma and interpersonal violence and the prevalence of these experiences in persons who receive mental health services. It involves not only changing assumptions about how we organise and provide services but creates organisational cultures that are personal, holistic, creative, open and therapeutic. A trauma based approach primarily views the individual as having been harmed by something or someone.
TICP is a strengths-based framework that is responsive to the impact of trauma, emphasising physical, psychological, and emotional safety for both service providers and survivors; and creates opportunities for survivors to rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.
TICP is a practice that can be utilised to support service providers in moving from a caretaker to a collaborator role, where services represent a ‘new generation’ of transformed mental health and allied human services organisations and programs which serve people with histories of violence and trauma.
When a human service program seeks to become trauma informed, every part of its organisation, management, and service delivery system is assessed and modified to ensure a basic understanding of how trauma impacts the life of an individual who is seeking services.
MHCC has developed two easy-to-use resources to support mental health and human services ensure that any event or activity that they facilitate, such as a conference, workshop, seminar, consultation, training or meetings, follow trauma-informed principles.
The idea for the policy protocol and events checklist followed reports that some events were being conducted in the sector in a way that had not ensured safety for participants or presenters alike. This encouraged MHCC to develop some best practice for members, other organisations and individuals to draw upon.
These resources aim to promote a supportive culture that encourages collaboration and trust between the host organisation, presenters and attendees.
MHCC’s paper Trauma-Informed Care and Practice: Towards a cultural shift in policy reform across mental health and human services in Australia, A National Strategic Direction, presents the deliberations of the National Trauma-Informed Care and Practice Advisory Working Group. It demonstrates the importance of trauma-informed care and practice principles and an approach to service delivery across mental health and human services in Australia.
The paper points to evidence around the need, process and benefits of broad-based policy reform and a national approach to trauma-informed care and practice. All recommendations made are informed by national and international experience, evidence and research. A TICP approach requires national integrated action supported by government, with bipartisan support, and by a diversity of health and human systems, sectors and jurisdictions. It is a broad-based agenda that is key to ensuring improved outcomes for large numbers of Australians the system has failed.
This paper also provides a platform from which MHCC and the Blue Knot Foundation (previously ASCA) advocate broad-based policy reform across jurisdictions and sectors: in organisations, agencies, services and programs professional practice. It describes the need for a national approach to ‘Trauma-Informed Care and Practice’ where an understanding of the relationship between trauma and poor mental and physical health is inherent. TICP is a timely and well-targeted reform agenda in the context of dynamic changes to the service system environment in Australia; including the introduction of the NDIS, Partners in Recovery (PIR) and more recently the establishment of the Primary Health Networks (PHN).
The paper incorporates specific recommendations to progress a strategic approach to policy reform in Australia. For more information about this paper and the ongoing work that MHCC and the Blue Knot Foundation (previously ASCA) undertake, please contact Corinne Henderson, Principal Advisor, Policy & Legislative Reform, MHCC at email@example.com