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Understanding and transforming trauma. A brief history The Australian Childhood Foundation was contracted by the Department of Education and Children’s.

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Presentation on theme: "Understanding and transforming trauma. A brief history The Australian Childhood Foundation was contracted by the Department of Education and Children’s."— Presentation transcript:

1 Understanding and transforming trauma

2 A brief history The Australian Childhood Foundation was contracted by the Department of Education and Children’s Services (DECS) in August 2005 (now DECD Student, Aboriginal and Family Services, Office for Children and Young People) to deliver a specialist training program for education welfare personnel to ensure they have the skills to support children at risk of abuse and neglect, in addition to promoting and implementing school policies and programs that have a focus on child abuse prevention and child protection. This initiative has since become known as the Strategies for Managing Abuse Related Trauma or SMART Program

3 A brief history The purpose of the SMART Project was a part of the Keeping Them Safe child protection reform agenda of the South Australian government. This acknowledged the critical role of education staff, including those in early childhood services, in supporting children at risk of, experiencing and healing from abuse related trauma. The project sought to build on the awareness and capacity of all education personnel to both support individual children and promote and implement policies and programs that focus on child protection. The SMART program sits within a suite of government initiatives stemming from the Keeping Them Safe agenda. The project itself utilised a multi- faceted approach to access as many of the target audience as possible.

4 A brief history Over the past 8 years sessions have been provided to leadership groups, support staff, teachers, SSO’s and services associated with the case management of children attending South Australian schools. These sessions have been delivered to remote, rural and metropolitan regions and have encompassed a range of generic SMART sessions alongside tailored sessions focussing on assessment, problem sexual behaviours, specific modality sessions for school counsellors, strategy sessions, indigenous specific sessions, sessions for SSO’s and specific sessions for early childhood, primary and secondary staff.

5 Project Aims The project aims were to develop and deliver professional development opportunities for education professionals, with the following outcomes: To effectively communicate with children and young people about their experiences of abuse, family violence and neglect; To build integrated and collaborative interventions that engage schools in a team approach to address the support and protective needs of children and young people who have experienced abuse, family violence and neglect; To contextualise exchanges with children and young people within an up to date understanding of developmental theory, trauma psychology and family systems models; To promote individual recovery for children and young people, as well as changes to abusive family dynamics; and To consider strategies to build commitment to whole of school approaches to child abuse prevention and child protection.

6 Framework development The Australian Childhood Foundation established a contractual relationship with the Indigenous Health Unit in the Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at Monash University and the National Research Centre for the Prevention of Child Abuse at Monash University to ensure extensive and up to date knowledge and skills were utilised in the provision of this comprehensive training strategy. The key outputs of this project were based on a solid foundation of current research, a sound understanding of adult learning principles and a sensitivity to the experience of the education sector staff who formed the target group.

7 Framework & principles Effective intervention and protection of children and young people relies upon a sound understanding of the impact of abuse related trauma, comprehensive risk assessment frameworks based on current research and an ability to implement support plans for children and young people that not only reduce the risk they are exposed to but also promote their recovery from the harm they have experienced. Risk and safety assessments need to be integrated into practice at every stage of intervention with a child or young person. Education environments can be healing environments when the whole school community is trauma sensitive.


9 Body Emotional & Social Learning & Cognition Behaviour Manifestations of trauma in the education environment

10 Participant feedback “It will give the whole team a new perspective and approach to children affected by trauma” “Help build relationships and be more aware of possible reasons behind their behaviours” “Affirmation of need for relationships with children- new strategies gained” “Re-enforced what I need to look for to identify child with trauma and how to plan with the teacher. Working relationships and a language to use.” “Calmer me- calmer parents- happier children” “Keeping communication lines open. Strategies/ideas discussed today useful for all students”

11 Participant feedback “Deeper understanding of the brain responses and roles explained which is sound theory necessary to work with teachers and schools” “A great understanding of how children with trauma have no control often about how they behave” “Reconsideration of the perspective traumatised students bring with them” “It's good to stay mindful of the effects of trauma on children before we get to work with them” “Heighten my understanding of children who have experienced trauma. Putting my knowledge into practice.”


13 teacher-researchers by education professionals for education professionals The DECD Learner Wellbeing Inquiry Framework

14 SMART=ER Strategies for Managing Abuse Related Trauma = Educational Reform How amazing to come into a school and have such a great resource handed to me to refer to. The collated resource the school has of SMART practice is like gold for a new teacher. Year 2 teacher new to Port Lincoln JP school How amazing to come into a school and have such a great resource handed to me to refer to. The collated resource the school has of SMART practice is like gold for a new teacher. Year 2 teacher new to Port Lincoln JP school

15 P redictable Building an environment that is as familiar as possible feels safe. R esponsive Responses to children’s behaviour should always stem from an understanding of the trauma-based origins of that behaviour. A ttuned The more we are attuned to the student’s patterns and processes of responding, the better we are able to understand the individual and help him/her to understand their own reactions. C onnecting Implementing strategies that build emotional literacy and allow students to experience and recognize pleasure and success will improve the student’s capacity to successfully interact T ranslating Children who have experienced trauma struggle to build those stories of understanding because of the impacts of that trauma. These students need a translator to facilitate the process of recounting and remembering. I nvolving Children who have experienced trauma often struggle with relationships with their peers. Yet, these relationships can be a source of healing and nurturing when developed and supported. C alming To facilitate positive outcomes for these children at all levels (educationally, socially, emotionally, behaviourally), we need to provide and support experiences of calm on a consistent and repetitive basis. E ngaging The experience of appropriate, supportive adult-child relational exchanges is instrumental to supporting children who have experienced abuse related trauma.

16 32 DECD sites early childhood to secondary review of significant changes from project reports 2008-2013 Data sources EDSAS & NAPLAN data Class observation data Circle of Courage Engagement Instrument Most Significant Change Pianta teacher-student relationship scale Where am I at? young person’s self-assessment tool Self-designed, self-reported surveys/tools Interviews, focussed discussions

17 Life impact Student excluded to alternative school for persistent and wilful inattention progressing to 100 % engagement & successful transition back to home school 80% attendance improvement Attending full time Frequent flyer to office to twice in term 4 236 behaviour referrals to office term 1, 112 term2, 42 term 3 Behaviour incidents reduced 2/3, significant decrease in actual or threatened violence Doubling usual rate of reading progress Included in games "It's so good to see my son smile and laugh again." "I have learnt that my teachers and parents care for me."

18 Set and maintain the 'heartbeat' of the classroom, quietly and calmly maintaining relationships, routines and supportive structures that are extraordinary in their ordinariness

19 Pupil wellbeing – Teacher wellbeing: Two sides of the same coin? Sue Roffey Educational & Child Psychology Vol. 29 No. 4 © The British Psychological Society, 2012

20 Project resources SMART Online Discussion papers Paper 19- Mindfulness Paper 20- Shame Newsletters Further training opportunities in 2014

21 For further information: Lee Duhring Policy Advisor (Child Protection Initiatives) STUDENT, ABORIGINAL AND FAMILY SERVICES OFFICE FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE 8226 1359

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