Safe in Our Care: trauma informed practice learnings from Aboriginal wisdoms.

Ms Michelle Nicholson1,2,3, Ms Becky Hollis1,2
1Tasmanian Health Services , Launceston, Australia, 2Northern Sexual Assault Services North , Launceston, Australia, 3Blue Knot Foundation, Milsons Point, Australia

The Safe in Our Care project is a Tasmanian initiative that aims to ensure the whole of government and non-government service landscape, is fully trauma informed and ready for accreditation by 2021. The project is a partnership between Government and non-government trauma, education, mental health, hospital and primary health services. It involves the roll out of Blue Knot and Trauma Informed Primary Health Care education, training and mentoring. We work with organisatons interested in adopting least restrictive therapeutic practices and least restrictive organisational design, aimed at protecting the safety and dignity of people living with comorbid mental health and chronic disease. It acknowledges that the National Standards for practice in the area of least restrictive client/patient centred care, reflects many current and historical cultural practices within existing Aboriginal Services. The project aims to link mainstream services to Aboriginal wisdoms around least restrictive client centred organisational design and professional practice. The Aboriginal Services example value adds to National Standards as they provide a blue print for putting trauma informed theory into practice with some of the most vulnerable communities in this country. Aboriginal people have a deep understanding and knowledge of the effects on mental health, of intergenerational trauma, social exclusion and the link between these and poor health trajectories. Their community and service wisdom has much to offer mainstream mental health practices. The presentation will show that best practice in the area is not new, will not require enormous financial outlay but does inspire rewarding and respectful reform.


Michelle is a clinical social worker providing therapeutic counselling since 1995. She has worked in rural mental health, trauma services and more recently primary health. Her work has focused on provision of trauma informed counselling and support for people experiencing comorbid physical and mental health conditions and she has focused on work with complex developmental trauma. Michelle is a Master trainer for Stanford university chronic pain self managment program and has developed award winning chronic pain, anxiety and depression programs for adults who experience complex developmental trauma.

Becky is a proud Tasmania Aboriginal woman who graduated from university in 2017. She has worked in Aboriginal services providing support and assistance to Tasmanian Aboriginal people for 5 years and during this time was the Tasmanian representative on the board of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Womens Alliance. She currently works in the sexual assault trauma recovery service Laurel House.


TERP focuses on identifying, avoiding and reducing harm across all environments in which the care of people with mental ill health is provided. TERP inforces Australia’s commitment to reduce the use of, and eliminate restrictive practices as a priority for action. Each jurisdiction, in conjunction with the Safety and Quality Partnership Standing Committee and the Commonwealth Government, works towards this vision by holding a series of forums providing an opportunity to learn and grow from local and national initiatives to eliminate restrictive practices and create a dialogue for future care.

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