May 2, 2024
12.30PM - 2.00PM

Presenters: Megan Corcoran from Wagtail Institute and Donna Richards from the Australian Childhood Foundation


This OPEN Forum provided practical insights and strategies for child and family services professionals working in trauma-impacted environments. It focussed on promoting well-being, managing compassion fatigue, and implementing trauma-informed practices, to create a safer and supportive workplace.

The presenters emphasised the importance of trauma-informed supervision, self-care, and professional growth in child and family services. The speakers also shared effective strategies to manage compassion fatigue, establish professional boundaries, and create a healthy work-life balance. By adopting trauma-informed practices, promoting self-care, and establishing clear professional boundaries, child and family services can better support their staff and clients. The focus on creativity and vulnerability creates a workplace culture that encourages resilience and compassion.

Key messages

  • Compassion doesn’t cause fatigue, but not taking time to care for the self does
    • Recognising signs of compassion fatigue in yourself and your team, and then addressing it, can help mitigate burnout.
    • Effective debriefing helps manage trauma and compassion fatigue, offering a structured approach to reflect and share responsibility.
  • Be aware of how stress feels in your body and what it looks like in your behaviour
    • If you know what your behaviour is like when you are stressed and you can communicate that to your colleagues, you are providing a safety net around yourself. Your colleagues are then in a position to help you when they notice the signs.
  • Use rituals and checklists to end the day, supporting a conscious shift from professional self to personal self
    • Self care practices, including end-of-day rituals and professional boundaries, are essential for preventing burn out.
    • Strategies such as locking away work materials and turning off work phones can help separate work and personal life
  • Regular trauma transformative supervision encourages a supportive organisational culture
    • Providing opportunities for creativity and expression can help develop a safe and supportive environment.
    • Trauma-informed supervision involves safety, trust and open communication
  • Supervisors play a crucial role in modelling trauma-informed practices for their supervisees
    • Vulnerability and authenticity from leaders encourage a supportive and open environment where staff feel valued, respected and supported in their work.
    • Supervisors that model teaching, consulting, counselling, monitoring goals and outcomes, evaluation, respect and ethical behaviour with their supervisees will reinforce the importance of these principles in client care.
  • Safety and relationship are entwined, and this reflects our understanding of trauma and its impact
    • In the supervisee and supervisor relationship, both need to feel safe. When both parties feel safe you can achieve the other aspects of the supervision model – Safety, Relationship, Mindfulness, Reflection and Integration

Key Resources

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