ACF establishes Centre for Trauma Aware and Responsive Education
The Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) has established the Centre for Trauma Aware and Responsive Education to provide a central hub for information, training and resources for teachers, early childhood learning professionals and educational leaders.
Drawing on opportunities to engage in new areas of knowledge that are emerging from trans-disciplinary approaches to understanding the neuroscience of trauma and relationships, the Centre is an evolution from a partnership with the South Australian Department for Education which commenced in 2004.
The partnership was created to deliver an Australian first workforce capacity building initiative called SMART (Strategies for Managing Abuse Related Trauma) which is still being implemented today.
Originally established as part of the state government’s child protection reform agenda – Keeping Them Safe, SMART sought to provide specialist training for teachers and school welfare personnel to ensure they were equipped with the skills to support children who have experienced trauma arising from abuse and neglect, in addition to promoting and implementing policies and programs that are committed to non-exclusionary practice for children and young people living in out of home care or at risk of disengaging from education.
In 2008, then Commissioner of the Children in State Care Commission of Inquiry, Ted Mullighan, was so impressed with the program that he listed as the number one recommendation in his final report relating to the inquiry he conducted into children in state care, the need for the SMART Program to be an ongoing training program in SA and extended to other health and welfare professionals.
Since 2008, ACF has continued to evolve its approach to supporting schools and early childhood education programs, and rather than advocate for a specific model of trauma informed schools, ACF has provided a tailored and flexible framework that integrates with the core principles and values of schools and education systems.
“We have found that this makes it easier for different learning environments to adapt the principles of trauma responsive education and translate them into their daily practices with students” an ACF spokesperson said.
Additionally, the flexible approach also builds on the pre-existing strengths and capacity of many of the professionals who work in these systems. Through adopting trauma-informed approaches that are sensitive and predictable in their implementation, those working with children can “open up a space for traumatised children and young people to learn, stay engaged in education and experience opportunities to heal and grow.”
The Centre for Trauma Aware and Responsive Education will draw on opportunities to engage in new areas of knowledge that are emerging from trans-disciplinary approaches to understanding the neuroscience of trauma and relationships, and will continually evolve.
ACF has invited those who are interested in the work of the Centre to sign up for regular updates here.