What does it mean to be a trauma-informed organisation?

At the organisational level, being trauma-informed means that all aspects of service delivery are guided by consideration of the potential trauma history of those who engage with the service. Becoming more trauma-informed involves all members of the organisation, and an evaluation of all practices and policies through a trauma-focused lens. Embedding trauma-informed care principles throughout an organisation also helps it to respond effectively when individual service users and communities are impacted by major events such as disasters. 

More than three-quarters of Australians experience a potentially traumatic event at some point in their life. This means that your organisation will be interacting with, employing, or supporting individuals impacted by trauma, regardless of whether trauma recovery is the main focus of your engagement with the individual.

What are some benefits of trauma-informed organisations?

  • Taking a trauma-informed approach helps the experience and outcomes of trauma-impacted individuals that engage with your organisation
  • Trauma-informed organisations build capabilities for all workers, not just mental health staff, to help support recovery from trauma
  • Trauma-informed care is relevant and useful for all trauma, no matter how recent or historical
  • Trauma-informed organisations also help support worker wellbeing
  • Becoming a trauma-informed organisation is not complicated and can be an ongoing process

What are the key principles of TIC?  

Six key principles underpin the trauma-informed care approach. These principles are grounded in research by Hopper et al. (2010) about what helps people recover from mental health conditions. Each principle is described below, followed by practical examples for implementing them at an organisational level.


TRAUMA AWARENESS: Trauma-informed organisations are aware of how trauma impacts people and their experience of engaging with organisations


PROMOTE SAFETY AND TRUST: Physical and psychological safety are promoted for both the trauma-impacted person and staff


REBUILD CONTROL: Trauma-impacted individuals are supported to rebuild a sense of control over positive outcomes in order to create a foundation for recovery


FOCUS ON STRENGTHS: Self- empowerment is encouraged in the trauma-impacted individuals by assisting them to draw upon and build their strengths and resources


PROMOTE CONNECTION: Trauma-informed organisations facilitate trauma-impacted individuals’ connections to various sources of support


COMMUNICATE BELIEF IN RECOVERY: A sense of hope and expectation of resilience and recovery is communicated, and an understanding about the challenges of recovery

The following provides some practical examples of how the principles can be used to implement trauma-informed care in your organisation.

There are a number of core actions to consider in the context of each principle:

  1. Build staff knowledge and skills so staff can deliver care in a trauma-informed way
  2. Create an organisational culture and leadership that value and promote a trauma-informed approach
  3. Have policies and processes that support trauma-informed practices

A checklist can assist you to identify the key actions required to support you in aligning your organisation to current best practice in trauma-informed care. An example of such a checklist, created specifically for aged care leaders and managers, is available here.

Promote trauma awareness

To promote trauma awareness, organisations can:

  • facilitate staff access to trauma-informed training, consultation, mentoring, and/or supervision
  • orient workers’ perspectives on how to understand various behaviours (these may be challenging behaviours) people present with
  • where relevant, routinely screen individuals for their trauma history
  • support trauma-informed self-care for staff – including emphasising role boundaries, limitations, skills development, and access to trauma-informed support via supervision and peer consultation.

Promote safety

To promote a sense of safety, organisations can:

  • provide a physically and emotionally safe space to work and engage with trauma-impacted individuals.
  • develop systems of care that consider trauma dynamics – ensuring clear roles, responsibilities, and boundaries are delineated
  • maintain privacy, confidentiality, and mutual respect
  • respect cultural differences and diversity (e.g. gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation)

Rebuild control

To rebuild a sense of control, organisations can:

  • involve trauma-impacted people in the design and evaluation of the organisation’s procedures, and the way the organisation delivers services
  • create predictable, stable environments that facilitate the trauma-impacted person’s ability to rebuild a sense of control over their lives

Focus on strengths

To focus on strengths, organisations can:

  • include assessment of the trauma-impacted person’s skills and resources alongside screening and assessment for trauma history and other mental health issues (if applicable to the organisation)
  • involve trauma-impacted individuals in the design and evaluation of the organisation’s procedures, services etc.

Promote connection

To promote connection, organisations can:

  • recognise that the individual’s relationship to organisations, service systems and social networks is central to recovery
  • create new, and reinforce existing, relationships to organisations and social networks
  • respect diversity.

Communicate belief in recovery

To communicate belief in recovery, organisations can:

  • reinforce belief in recovery through facilitating worker education, skills, and competency
  • reinforce belief in recovery through organisational policies and practices.