Our Specialist Therapeutic Services

Children and young people affected by abuse and violence require specialist counselling and support to assist them to heal from the traumatic consequences of these experiences.  The Foundation’s Child Trauma Services utilise the application of therapeutic techniques based on a comprehensive understanding of interpersonal neurobiology, child development, and attachment. This includes strategies which stabilise children’s stress response system, reconfigures their base line arousal levels, integrates their memory functioning and builds connections with the important network of adults in their life. Specific programs include problem sexual behaviour intervention, creative arts groups, music and rhythm activities. The services utilise individually tailored care teams to build a consistent framework of responses to children across settings, including school, extended family and sporting and recreational groups.

The Child Trauma Service based in Mitcham (VIC) was the first of its kind to be set up in Australia, being established more than twenty five years ago in 1990. It runs a distinct range of trauma informed specialist therapeutic programs including:

  • Trauma recovery for children and young people affected by sexual assault and their families;
  • Trauma recovery for children and young people affected by physical abuse and their families;
  • Trauma recovery for children and young people affected by family violence and their families.

The Child Trauma Service has been instrumental in pioneering a program for children under the age of 12 who had engaged in problem sexual behaviour more than 15 years ago. This program has evolved to provide evidenced based therapeutic intervention for children and young people who engage in problem and/or abusive sexual behaviour in the Eastern Region of Melbourne and through the Goulburn Districts of Victoria in and around Shepparton and Wangaratta.

It is a leading innovator of resources and technology that amplifies the therapeutic impact of its programs into the systems designed to protect, care for and support vulnerable children and families. For example, over the past five years the team at the Child Trauma Service has undertaken projects which have resulted in the following outcomes.

  • Development of an integrated Mobile APP (funded through the Telstra Foundation) connected with a set of therapeutic dolls that support children to build their regulational capacity with their families whilst developing narratives of transformation and hope.
  • Publication of a trauma informed framework for identifying and meeting the needs of children and young people affected by family violence. The Safe and Secure Guide for Professionals (download a copy by clicking here) resources individuals and agencies to enhance their knowledge and skills in supporting children and young people from the point of crisis through to safety and recovery.
  • Completion of a clinical trial of the “Listening Project” in partnership with the University of North Carolina that is likely to improve the effectiveness of trauma based therapy as a result of enhancing children’s capacity to attend to the regulatory dimensions associated with the tone and prosody of the human voice.
  • Implementation of a sensorimotor group program for children which promotes connection and sensory integration through movement and physical activities.

The Child Trauma Service in Victoria is partially funded by the Department of Health and Human Services, Victoria.

All of the Foundation’s Therapeutic Services and Therapeutic Out of Home Care Programs in Victoria are ISO 9001: 2008 certified.   

In March 2009, the Foundation together with the Tasmanian Government launched a state-wide therapeutic intervention service for children and young people involved with child protection services in Tasmania. This specialist service was unique in Tasmania and provides important access to specialist trauma assessments and tailored therapeutic interventions for abused children and young people living in out of home care.  The service is delivered from offices in Hobart and Launceston. 

In 2011, the Foundation established a partnership with Relationships Australia (NT) to develop and support a counselling service to vulnerable and at risk children living in the town camps in and around Alice Springs. The Foundation also has a partnership with Anglicare NT to provide a trauma informed Intensive Youth Support Service in Alice Springs and Darwin. 

In addition, for more than a decade, the Foundation, in partnership with other non-government agencies has provided therapeutic foster care, therapeutic residential care and therapeutic kinship care for children and young people removed from home as a result of abuse or neglect.  

The Foundation’s therapeutic care programs are an intensive form of foster, residential and kinship care, within which carers undergo specialist training about the neurobiology of trauma and attachment. They are then provided with professional and emotional support to enable them to develop resourcing relationships and environments for the children and young people in their care. Our therapeutic care programs are based on creating a home life for children which promote predictability, routine, consistency and acceptance. Through applying therapeutic parenting approaches, carers focus on the critical aspects of the carer-child relationship, offering love, nurturance, security and belonging. This results in placements which are more stable and are able to remediate the negative consequences of early abuse and neglect on the emotional regulatory systems of children. The placements are also supported with specific care teams of professionals that ensure co-ordination of all activities involving the child, young person and their family as required. 

Some of the Foundation’s Therapeutic Care programs have been delivered in the following locations: 

  • Therapeutic Foster Care Programs (Circle Program) established since 2007 and funded by Department of Human Services Victoria. They are delivered in partnership with Anglicare Victoria (Eastern Metropolitan Region and North West Metropolitan Region), Oz Child (Southern Metropolitan Region), Salvation Army Westcare (North West Metropolitan Region), Upper Murray Family Care (Wodonga) and UnitingCare Gippsland (Gippsland). 
  • A Long Term Therapeutic Foster Care Program (Track Program) established in 2001. It is delivered in partnership with Anglicare Victoria and the Department of Human Services Victoria (Eastern Metropolitan Region). 
  • A Therapeutic Foster Care Program specifically for adolescents (TrACK ACP) delivered in partnership with Anglicare Victoria since 2009 (Eastern Metropolitan Region). 
  • A Therapeutic Foster Care Program for high needs children and young people delivered in partnership with Oz Child since 2009 (Southern Metropolitan Region).    
  • Therapeutic Residential Care Units developed and delivered in partnership with Anglicare Victoria since 2007 (Eastern and North West Metropolitan Region). 
  • A long term Therapeutic Foster Care Program established in 2007 in partnership with Anglicare SA and funded by Families SA. 
  • A long term Therapeutic Foster Care Program implemented in collaboration with Barnados (ACT) since 2009 and funded by ACT Department of Housing, Disability and Community Services. 
  • Therapeutic Foster Care program and Therapeutic Pre-school Program in collaboration with Gippsland and East Gippsland Aboriginal Co-Operative (VIC). 
  • Therapeutic Residential Care Program implemented in partnership with Anglicare NT in Alice Springs. 
  • Therapeutic Residential Care Program with Richmond Fellowship in Canberra. 
  • Therapeutic Residential Care Program with Junction Support Services in Wodonga (VIC).

The Foundation runs two of the leading program of therapeutic Kinship Care Programs in Australia currently available. The Side by Side Program run in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services in the ACT uses trauma informed principles to support relative carers to enact healing relational environments with the children in their care. This program has been running effectively since 2011.

In 2015, the Foundation has launched the Woon-yah Ngullah Goorlanggass Program (which means “Caring for Our Children” in the Nyungah language of the South West of Western Australia) in Perth. Its focus on supporting Aboriginal kinship/relative carers addresses a critical gap in service provision to this vulnerable group. It embeds the Foundation’s trauma informed approach within a cultural framework, focusing on the strength that can be drawn from connection to culture. It provides assertive outreach and intensive support to the relative carers and young people. 

Our approach to partnerships 

Our belief is that collaboration with children and young people’s networks of adults, including family, carers, out of home care staff, child protection workers and others are essential in creating holistic, dependable, and predictable therapeutic environments and services.  Recovery oriented interventions are most successful when carers, support networks and professionals enact collaborative and intersecting functions that can achieve protective, reparative and restorative objectives for children and young people.

If you are interested in exploring a partnership opportunity with the Foundation at a service level anywhere in Australia, contact Janise Mitchell, Deputy CEO of the Australian Childhood Foundation by email on jmitchell@childhood.org.au.

Our Therapeutic Service Partners

Learn more about some of our therapeutic service partners around the country.

Featured Service
Woon-yah Ngullah Goorlanggass Therapeutic Kinship Care Program

A unique therapeutic kinship program for Aboriginal young people and their families.

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.

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