• Speaking up and being heard: how do we listen and respond to children’s experiences, needs and hopes?

    How can we ensure we hear directly from children so we know how they are feeling, what support they need, and with what they are struggling? In today's blog entry Nicola Palfrey, Director at Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network, explores strategies children find themselves experiencing when dealing with trauma, and how important it is for us to listen to their needs so we can provide them with proper support. 

  • Songs of change and harmony

    Foundation CEO, Dr Joe Tucci, explores the connection between the songs of whales and the collective 'song' of professionals who work in the trauma community; asking what it is that we need to keep growing, to keep resourcing each other and to continue to improve outcomes for children and young people.

  • Healing the Past by Nurturing the Future

    Healing the Past

    A new Aboriginal-led project aims to learn how to identify and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander parents who have experienced complex trauma in their own childhoods. 

  • National Reconciliation Week

    Reconciliation Week 2018 LI

    Today is the beginning of National Reconciliation Week, which encourages us to reflect on our relationships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of this land and non-Indigenous peoples.

  • Problem Sexual Behaviours in Children Under Twelve - what do we know and what do we need to know in supporting our residential care workers

    Residential care workers are immersed in the sharp end of child protection work, charged with caring for children displaying complex trauma based behaviours, often including problem sexual behaviours. Are you an Australian based residential care worker? Here is an opportunity to build insight, understanding and improve resources for residential care workers who are supporting children or young people engaging in problematic sexual behaviour.

  • Beyond Common Sense

    Employees and volunteers will often claim that the rationale for their behaviour is common sense. But often this term masks other motivations, such as self-interest, limited appreciation of the risks and not being able to differentiate between an individual’s needs, the needs of the children and the needs of the organisation.

  • Australia's National Therapeutic Care Alliance - Part 1

    An exploration of Australia's need for a National Therapeutic Care Alliance to clarify collective thinking, resource quality research and explore complex practice and standards for Australian children and young people in Out of Home Care. 

  • What is advocacy in child protection environments?

    Recently, a member of the community wrote in asking about what the Australian Childhood Foundation does to advocate for children.  They wanted to know what advocacy was, how the Foundation was involved in advocacy endeavours and how we felt the community could help.

  • Helping kids with a history of prenatal substance exposure

    Many of the children who enter into out of home care have a history of prenatal substance exposure. Some children will be born addicted and require hospitalisation as they withdraw from these harmful substances. However, some of these children do not experience withdrawal and present as a relatively healthy newborn. Irrespective of whether a baby experiences withdrawal, there are a number of long-term developmental and behavioural consequences often associated with prenatal substance exposure.

  • Changes to Child Safe Legislation in Victoria

    Amendments to the Child Well-being and Safety Act came into effect on the 27th February 2018, and are designed to clarify the operation of the Reportable Conduct Scheme and Child Safe Standards.

  • Taking up the challenge: The collective endeavour of interpreting neuroscience and trauma

    For practitioners working to support vulnerable children, young people and their families, a task is allocated to our collective endeavours whenever new evidence surfaces that has the potential to deepen our understanding of children’s needs and their experience of relationships. We are required to make sense of it, evaluate its relevance and ultimately, if helpful, make it count in our practice.

  • Back to School- Five survival tips for professionals embarking on vocational study.

    As I embark on a Graduate Certificate in Developmental Trauma, I prepare for a busy year of juggling a full time job, tending to my hectic family life with two little girls, a husband and a cat. Never mind my busy social life and love of travel… am I crazy? Two years ago, when I graduated from a Masters Degree in Social Work I swore - no more study for me! So how did I find myself eagerly awaiting a reading list for block 1?

  • What is love?

    The recent launch of ACF’s new logo and the narrative of love that accompanies it has prompted me to consider this concept of love in our work with traumatised children.  Having love as a value seems fundamental to everything we do in both our personal and professional lives. Yet, when we unpack what love means in the context of children who have experienced trauma, it is way more complex.
  • The Trauma of Separation and Divorce

    It is easy to underestimate the impact of family arguments, parental separation, the leaving of one parent from the family home, the disconnection in relationships, the challenges extended family have when perhaps being prevented from seeing a child/young person due to parental acrimony and the interconnected effect these can have on children.  

  • Western Australia's- 9 Child Safe Domains

    A discussion of the nine domains, the WA Commissioner for Children and Young People thought pertinent to guide organisations in moving towards creating and sustaining a safe space for children and young people.

  • Toddlers and Teens

    What is it about toddlers and teens, that so many parents find difficult…and do the two groups have anything in common?
  • Permission to Nurture

    Hear from guest blogger and Behaviour Education Consultant, Michael Lincoln, as he shares how the introduction of trauma informed frameworks created permission to nurture for staff in schools. 

  • I killed my fish

    As a Child Psychologist working with traumatised children, I hear a lot of stories, some of which are sad or cruel, some unbelievable or amazing. These stories provide me some insight in the different ways these children experience the world. It is my challenge to unravel the story and try and discover the key to why this story is so upsetting or overwhelming to them. Sometimes that leads to an unexpected outcome.
  • Maintaining a Safeguarding Culture

    Journey Image

    The Safeguarding Children Program is fundamentally about implementing and sustaining processes that create a safeguarding culture and ensure the on-going safety of children and young people within organisations. But, once organisations have begun this process, how do they go about maintaining a culture that protects children?

  • The Sooner the Better

    Meet the newest edition to our Mindful Parenting Programs - Bringing Up Great Kids: Hello Baby!

  • To my Teacher... A memo from a child in foster care.

    How might a child in foster care find their first day at school?  In today's blog entry Jeanette Miller, Consultant in the Parenting and Early Learning Program at the Australian Childhood Foundation explores the topic in this letter to a teacher, from the perspective of a child in foster care. 

  • The Nature and Nurture of Parenting

    How do we learn to be parents? Is it nature? Is it nurture? Jeanette Miller considers two different approaches and reflects on what parents who have themselves experienced trauma might need.

  • "I will die without my music"

    Young people love their music. It is a well- researched and documented phenomenon.  Here, music therapist, adolescent specialist and guest blogger Carmen Cheong-Clinch explores the relationships between young people, their music and mental health care.

  • Evolution of ACF's Therapeutic Services in Tasmania

    As the Australian Childhood Foundation (ACF) celebrates its 30th birthday in 2016, we have been reflecting on our journey in Tasmania.  Child Trauma Service Tasmania’s Manager, Sonya Pringle Jones highlights some of the turns and steps in the journey so far.

  • The impact of trauma on sibling relationships

    A growing body of literature supports the critical role of siblings in helping children and young people in OoHC maintain a sense of continuity with family.  Here, Noel MacNamara explores the literature and the gaps within it, highlighting how trauma damages the capacity for children and young people to benefit from relationships with adults, and from the growth of healthy sibling connections.

  • Shame Matters

    What is shame? Why is it present in so many therapists sessions?  How should clinicians approach it?  These questions and more are tackled by Suzette Misrachi in 'Shame Matters'.

  • Permanency and Stability in Out of Home Care

    We recently had the opportunity to submit to the Victorian Enquiry into the Implementation of the Children, Youth and Families Amendments (Permanent Care and Other Matters) ACT 2014 (Permanency Amendment Inquiry). In the submission, we highlighted our experience working with children placed in Out of Home Care in Victoria, as well as our strongly held belief that permanence promotes stability. 


  • Safeguarding Children and Young People in Sport

    What needs to be addressed to make Australian sport safer for children and young people?  Monique Blom shares about how the Safeguarding Children Program are now working with the Australian Sports Commission,  aiming to review, analyse and commence next steps for implementing a safeguarding approach to children and young people, based on the endorsed standards of the ACF Safeguarding Children Program.

  • Residential Care in Australia

    There has been ongoing concern about the safety and quality of children’s experiences in Australia’s residential care systems for a very long time. The ABC Four Corners program that aired last week, 'Broken Homes', is another example of the concerns that have been expressed by many. We heard again about the lack of safety experienced by the young people and the failures in the system to support staff. The program raised many questions about child protection systems in Australia. This blog reflects on some of those questions.

  • Untying the Knot

    Have you ever wondered how trauma impacts care systems?  In what ways can the emergent properties of fragmentation or integration change the service outcomes? Dilip Balu poses this question and shares his thoughts on the ability for such a system to consistently provide care that helps clients also achieve health and integration.

  • A Modality with a Difference

    Do you have clients whom you have spent a long time working with to address their traumatic experiences but somehow changing their cognitions is not fully resolving the issue? Following her recent webinar on the topic of Sensorimotor Psychotherapy®, Pauline Lodge here shares her perception of what makes this modality different when working with survivors of abuse. 

  • Epigenetics and Parenting

    When it comes to child development, the nature/nurture debate no longer makes it to the podium. Jeanette Miller explains why this is so, with a brief look at how the field of epigenetics helps us understand the role of parenting in shaping the development of children.

  • Child abuse and suicide: a harmful correlation - Part 2

    Part 2 in the series looking at the strong correlation between suicide and early childhood sexual assault.  We thought we’d take the opportunity over two blog posts, to discuss the research literature and then share some ideas about how we might contribute to better work with this vulnerable population.

  • Child abuse and suicide: a harmful correlation - Part 1

    In our practice experience and in the research, there is little doubt that there is a strong correlation between suicide and early childhood sexual assault, in particular that perpetrated by members of an individual’s family.  We thought we’d take the opportunity over two blog posts, to discuss the research literature and then share some ideas about how we might contribute to better work with this vulnerable population.
  • Youth and Porn - Sensational to Developmental

    porn youth problem sexual behaviour australian childhood foundation Russell Pratt, Statewide Principal Practitioner, Office of Professional Practice, Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria, and Cyra Fernandes, Team Leader, Child and Family Counselling Program, Child Trauma Service share their insight and perspectives on young people exposed to porn: Why we should move from the sensational to the developmental.
  • Think before you post! Reducing the risk when posting pics of kids online.

    Many children under the age of nine were born with a digital footprint in existence before they even left the womb.  These children inherit their digital profiles as a work in progress from a parent - who may or may not understand the dangers and vulnerabilities that such a profile can create. Here, Australian cyber security expert Susan McLean shares her cautions and recommendations with those who work with children and families.

  • Changes to NSW Child Protection Legislation

    On 2 November 2015, The NSW Government introduced reforms to strengthen the protection of children, particularly in situations where they are not in the care of their parents or families. These changes have been made under the Child Protection Legislation Amendment Act 2015 and affect all employers and organisations providing child-related services with roles that require a Working With Children Check (WWCC) clearance.   A summary of the changes, as provided by the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian can be found in this blog entry.  

  • Where is Article 12?

    Knowledge in the field of neurobiology has dramatically changed therapeutic work with trauma.  But does this focus also contribute to a bio-medical model of work that can lead to a breach in children's rights? Where children’s trauma is more likely to be managed medically rather than in an engaged manner with their ability to share their own experience and have input into therapeutic process? Here Mary Jo McVeigh considers the place of human rights in the trauma therapeutic discourse. 

  • School Bullying Trauma - An Overview

    Although most schools try to reduce bullying, one in five children still experience bullying. Omitted from the DSM V, school bullying can cause biopsychosocial injuries, loss of identity and social connections together with a potential for suicidal behaviours, and is a major childhood challenge writes guest blogger, Evelyn Fields OAM.

  • What on earth is placement stability in residential Out of Home Care?

    Young people in residential care often display incredibly hard to manage behaviours, and finding a placement that works for them among all the other young people with their own combination of the hard to manage behaviours is really hard.  Jenna Bollinger discusses what placement stability might - and may not - mean when applied to residential care. 

  • Why being trauma informed matters beyond trauma

    Prosody Blog Melissa Raine

    Dr Melissa Raine considers how Australian culture understands children, how trauma informed responses might impact work with all children, and how the discussion is pertinent to a forthcoming symposium on 'Children's Voices in Contemporary Australia'.

  • #childtrauma2016 CEO reflections - Day 5 & Beyond

    Last week we hosted the 2016 International Childhood Trauma Conference, each day a member of our ACF team shared their reflections from the day at conference.  For day 5, and beyond, our CEO Dr Joe Tucci considers what we have learnt, and what it might mean for children in Australia.

  • #childtrauma2016 reflections - Day 4 - Marina Dickson

    Each day of the 2016 International Childhood Trauma Conference, a member of our ACF team will be sharing reflections from their time at conference.  For day 4, Program Manager Vocational Training and Education, Marina Dickson discusses how 'chronic small events accumulate to big effects'.

  • #childtrauma2016 reflections - Day 3 - Lisa Ranahan

    Each day of the 2016 International Childhood Trauma Conference, a member of our ACF team will be sharing reflections from their time at conference.  For day 3, Program Manager for Therapeutic Care, Lisa Ranahan considers the range of key messages that stood out for her. 

  • #childtrauma2016 reflections - Day 2 - Noel MacNamara

    Each day of the 2016 International Childhood Trauma Conference, a member of our ACF team will be sharing reflections from their time at conference.  For day 2, our National Manager of Research and Policy, Noel MacNamara reflects on his own experience.

  • #childtrauma2016 reflections - Day 1 - Janise Mitchell

    Each day of the 2016 International Childhood Trauma Conference, a member of our ACF team will be sharing reflections from their time at conference.  For day 1, our Deputy CEO and Conference Co-Convenor Janise Mitchell discusses the thoughts arising from her time in Professor Michael Yellow Bird's masterclass.

  • Sibling Sexual Abuse Series - Part 1

    The first in what will be a three part series exploring Sibling Sexual Abuse, the impact on families and a model for therapeutic response which we have been trialling at the Foundation. 

  • Child Safe Standards - Victoria

    The Victorian Government is introducing compulsory child safe Standards for organisations that work with children. The Standards will support organisations to protect children from abuse and exploitation by their staff and volunteers.

  • Assessment Part 4

    The fourth article in this series of articles on assessment, here we examine how to conceptualise and assess the needs of children and families as it related to case planning and intervention.

  • Corporate Partnerships - What are they really about?

    Corporate Partnerships As a not-for-profit organisation working with and for our community, connections and support are vital to us; they are the lifeblood of our existence. In fact, for us at the Foundation in particular, there is an interesting echo of our work with children in what we also seek to create for ourselves as an organisation. 
  • Safeguarding Children - What is the program all about?

    In 2009 the Australian Childhood Foundation tool on the Safeguarding Children Program.  Since then, we have worked with numerous organisations and have even met with the Prime Minister about the contents and goals of the program.  We thought we'd take the opportunity to also share the information with you.

  • Practice Leadership - Part 2

    The second in a two part series on Practice Leadership written by Deputy CEO Janise Mitchell.  This entry particularly looks at what a Practice Leader does.

  • What are the essential elements of therapeutic foster care programs?

    With the increasing interest in therapeutic approaches to the care of traumatised children and young people that are now many programs that describe themselves as therapeutic foster care, and these can differ significantly. In this article, I have listed the core elements that I believe are central to the delivery of foster care which has a trauma informed therapeutic intent. 

  • Working With Children Checks

    Recruitment and screening processes forms an important part of minimizing the likelihood of unsuitable people commencing work or volunteering with an organisation. Here, Helen Barnes discusses the various requirements around Australia on organisations who work with children and young people.

  • Developmental Trauma Informed Maps... Why do we need them?

    What is a Developmental Trauma Informed Map? This grandly titled document actually asks participants to articulate the core messages of this body of knowledge and think about how it can underpin practice on a daily basis. Marina Dickson explains more...

  • Practice Leadership - Part 1

    This is the first in a two part series on Practice Leadership written by Deputy CEO Janise Mitchell.  This entry particularly looks at what a Practice Leader is in the context of Child Protection. 

  • Child Centred Practice Part 4

    In this, the fourth article in our series, we will look at why an understanding of child development is important to organisations aiming to be child centred in their delivery.

  • Mental Health, Young People and Trauma

    Increased diagnosis in mental health may be masking our understanding of, and response to, behaviours that are really manifestations of trauma writes Alexa Duke.

  • Kinship and Relative Carers

    In this first part of a two part series, Deputy CEO Janise Mitchell explores messages from the research about the support needs of kinship or relative carers.

  • Placement transitions in Out of Home Care

    Undertaking planned transitions for children in out-of-home care is essential to minimise further trauma and relationships disruption.  In this blog entry, Drew Browning explores how these transitions can be planned and managed to support best outcomes. 

  • Practicing Shame Resilience

    Shame Resilience

    Shame is a powerful emotion that can have trans-generational effects. It is not easy to talk about, but in this entry by Guest Blogger Andrea Szasz that's exactly what she does, sharing important insights into how we can work with our own shame, and that of clients.

  • Child Centred Practice - Part 3

    In today’s post, the third in our series on Child Centred Practice, we will look at what it means not only to listen to children but also to prioritise the voice of the child.
  • Toxic Stress and Trauma in the Early Years

    Toxic stress and trauma for infants is painful. In today's entry, Dr Joe Tucci and Janise Mitchell talk about the impact of trauma on infants, exploring why this professionals can benefit from trauma-informed knowledge and training when working with children in the early years. 

  • Lessons from the Royal Commission Part 3

    In part 3 of our series looking at lessons from the Royal Commission thus far, we outline some of the important insights in relation to child safe recruitment, monitoring and screening processes. This post shares practical examples of the kinds of questions to ask in the recruitment process.

  • What does it mean to be Child Centred? Part 2

    This post is the second in our series looking at Child Centred Practice, exploring the first of four principles of child centred practice that can inform policies, processes and actions: Recognising Critical Timeframes. 


  • Stepping Inside the Infant Experience

    To be truly attuned to the infant experience it is likely that we best meet the needs of our ‘under twos’, when we access and communicate with, our own right brains writes Jeanette Miller, who here explores myths and misconceptions held around the infant experience.

  • Neurobiology of Self-Care

    An exploration of self-care from a neurobiological perspective, placing it at the centre of effective practice in work with traumatised children, young people and families. 

  • Caring for a Traumatised Teen

    Adolescence is a period of significant growth, change and development, and is often an exciting as well as challenging time for young people and their parents or carers.  In this blog entry we discuss the insights neurobiology has to support the role of carers of traumatised young people.

  • Shame

    Have you ever thought about how children, young people and adults have come to hold onto a platform of Shame? Here, Deb McKenzie shares how in her role as an educator and school counsellor, she often wondered how to best help support a young person who held onto such a negative image of themselves.  This concern has taken her on a journey of learning around the topic.

  • Initiating Organisational Change

    Guest blogger, Melinda Crole from the YMCA shares insights on how they have gone about initiating organisational change to safeguard children. 

  • 9 Plain English Principles of Trauma Informed Care

    The trauma literature can be overwhelming. Its basis in neuroscience offers incredible insights into its impact. But it also is challenging to decipher and make relevant to the ways in which children that have experienced abuse and neglect can be effectively supported.  

    So here, are our top nine principles of trauma informed care – in plain English.
  • Rediscovering a conceptual gem for therapeutic out of home care.

    Sometimes you come across a journal article that is way before its time - like the one Janise Mitchell discusses in this blog entry! These seven vital components identified as the core of care for children who are removed from their family are as relevant today as they were innovative back then. 

  • What does it mean to be Child Centred?

    Anyone who has worked with children in a professional setting will likely have heard the term ‘child-centred’ used to describe an approach, a policy or a way of working with children. It is written into legislation around Australia and seen as a desirable way of approaching child protection by many.  Some organisations – like the Foundation – also describe themselves as being child-centred as a central principle informing all that they do.  But what does it mean?

  • Lessons from the Royal Commission Part 2

    In part 2 of our series looking at lessons from the Royal Commission thus far, we outline some of the important insights in relation to the nature and prevalence of child sexual abuse; perpetrators and organisational awareness of abuse.

  • What if the world hurts?

    What if your teacher’s voice feels like a dentist drill? What if the walls of your classroom feel like they are crowded and moving? What if the seam on your sock drives you to distraction and makes it almost impossible to listen to what is being said to you? Beth Guy looks at the topic of sensory defensiveness and what it means for children and young people as well as those who support them.

  • Sexting and Young People

    If you work with young people, you no doubt know about sexting – the act of sending nude or provocative pictures via text on mobile phone or social media.  What you may not know is that doing so amounts to a criminal offense under Commonwealth Law, even if all parties are willing.

  • Transforming Trauma in Schools

    Children and young people around Australia are struggling to participate in school life because their brains are shutting down due to toxic stress. When exposed to levels of high stress like trauma and abuse, children and young people can struggle to follow simple instructions even - resulting in them often being perceived as naughty kids.
  • An interview with Cathy Malchiodi – Part 2

    In December last year, we published the first of a two-part interview with Cathy Malchiodi. Here, Cathy is continuing her answer to the question “What is the neuroscience behind creative and art therapies”, specifically discussing research around sensory based interventions, non-verbal communication and right hemisphere dominance.

  • Principles of Out of Home Care Reform - Part 1

    Part 1 in a series of posts discussing principles of Out of Home Care reform.  Here, Janise Mitchell discusses the principle which - in her view - is one of the most the most critical outcome measures of success of any out of home care system. 

  • An Interview with Stephen Porges

    Stephen Porges’ Polyvagal Theory is the product of decades of research and has already informed the trauma work of thousands of therapists worldwide.  In town recently for the 2014 International Childhood Trauma Conference, he sat down with Dr Joe Tucci to discuss how his theory informs his latest project: a research partnership with the Australian Childhood Foundation.

  • Changes in child protection law - what you need to know

    Our work with the Safeguarding Children Program sees us connecting with a wide variety of organisations around Australia who are working with children and young people.  One issue that proves tricky for many, is the constantly changing legislative landscape.  We thought we might use this post to bring you up to date with some of the new laws in Victoria that affect ALL ADULTS in Victoria. We will look at other states and territories in subsequent posts.

  • What is trauma?

    Depending on who or what you read, trauma will be defined in a variety of ways. Is it simple or complex? Developmental, relational or attachment oriented? Within the field of childhood trauma we have a multitude of definitions and sub categories that can be quite confusing for practitioners.

     

  • 8 things Therapists using social media should know

    Recently, a friend of mine told me she had started seeing a therapist. She was really pleased about her decision, and felt they had good rapport. After chatting for a minute or so about it, she sheepishly added that I knew the therapist in question - which she had discovered by looking her up on social media and saw that we were connected.