Workforce Development

The following summaries demonstrate some of the workforce development initiatives that the Australian Childhood Foundation has led since early in the new millennium.  This partnership approach is replicated throughout ACF’s services and is reflective of our understanding that a relational and consistent approach is critical to effective outcomes for children, young people and those who support and work with them.

Department for Education – South Australia

As has been discussed throughout this section, ACF have worked with the Department for Education in South Australia since 2004 in implementing the SMART – Strategies for Managing Abuse Related Trauma – program across the state.  This expansive and multi-faceted workforce development program has incorporated a range of developmental activities that have included:

  • One and two day professional development sessions that focus on foundational knowledge and then advanced content regarding the implementation of trauma responsive processes in schools
  • Self-paced online learning that is freely available to all staff across South Australia and brings an enhanced level of accessibility to foundational learning
  • Action research projects that enable the application of learning to specific and individualized needs of sites across the state – from early childhood centres through to high schools and all sites in between.
  • Collaborative practice forums which seek to connect schools with other services in their community that all work to support traumatized children, young people and their families and carers
  • Provision of discussion papers on topics associated with trauma responsive practice that enable further exploration of specific issues of relevance to education professionals
  • A comprehensive train the trainer program that enables key professionals across South Australia to also provide training into individual sites that may not be able to access the broader professional development opportunities.
  • Bespoke consultancy, reflective practice and staff support programs that meet the specific needs of individual sites across the state.


It should be noted that much of these lessons from SMART have been integrated into the current broad programs of activity in South Australia that are supported and funded through the Department for Education’s Trauma Aware Schools Initiative.

Catholic Education – Western Australia

The Australian Childhood Foundation and Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) have been working together since 2016 in providing workforce development activities focused on enhancing a trauma informed approach in Catholic schools across Western Australia. These activities have included one and two day workshops – for regional groups and for school specific groups – on both foundational knowledge and skills and advanced skills for education professionals.  They have also included the implementation and support of action research projects in selected schools that provide those sites with an opportunity to explore practical application of a trauma informed approach in some depth and enabling a comprehensive review of the outcomes of such application.

Catholic Education – South Australia

ACF have also partnered with Catholic Education South Australia (CESA) since 2014 in building the capacity of the education workforce across the state.  The model implemented with CESA has identified specific cohorts of schools each year and worked intensively with those sites over a 12 – 18 month period to embed a trauma responsive approach using a multiply focused process that is inclusive of capacity building and action research projects.

ACF also have an auditing process for schools and other learning environments that reviews current processes and policies in terms of both their integration of trauma responsive practices and congruence of practice across all aspects of the site.  The audit process includes a comprehensive review of multiple aspects of the site’s functioning and the provision of a substantial report with practical and realistic recommendations, resources.  These reviews provide both reflection on current quality practice as well as plans for improvement.