Trauma Responsive System Framework

A whole-of-system approach to building the capacity of the Child and Family Support System.

The Trauma Responsive System Framework (available in several formats) is a foundational document, designed to provide guidance for building our capacity to be trauma-responsive at all levels of our system.

Importantly this framework takes a systems approach to building this capacity, encouraging us all to consider how we might apply trauma-responsive principles at each level of our system — family, practitioner, organisational and funder levels.

This is in recognition that in order for trauma-responsive practice to be sustainable, it needs to be happening within a trauma-responsive system.

In doing this we also commit to building a system that does not retraumatise, or further traumatise, the children and families it was created to support.

How this framework supports trauma-responsive capacity

This framework outlines a system-wide approach to building trauma-responsive capacity.

Six trauma-responsive principles form the basis of the framework, with attributes and indicators, for each:

  1. trustworthiness
  2. peer and community support
  3. collaboration
  4. empowerment and self-determination
  5. safety
  6. know yourself and learn.

The framework is designed to encourage people to consider what actions can be taken to build a trauma-responsive system across at each level of the Child and Family Support System (CFSS).


The Trauma-responsive System Framework is also available in PDF and accessible formats.

Trauma-Responsive System Framework and Emerging Minds (CFSS) Focus Orientation video

DHS 1686 Trauma FW Focus Tool 2023 (51mins)

DHS Trauma Framework Focus Tool and how to set up an account and use the tool.

Emerging Minds Focus - Building our Trauma Responsive Capacity

Emerging Minds Focus – Taking a Systems Approach to Building our Trauma Responsive Capacity within the CFSS Sector

To support the implementation of the Trauma Responsive System Framework, an organisational capacity-building tool has been made available called Emerging Minds Focus. Focus brings together several initiatives from Our Healing Approach to support systems thinking on trauma responsiveness across all levels – Child and family, Practitioner, Organisation, and Funder.

CFSS-funded Intensive Family Support Services are currently engaged in an implementation pilot of the Trauma Responsive System Framework through Emerging Minds Focus. Access Emerging Minds Focus.

Contact us

As Emerging Minds Focus is a prototype, we would greatly appreciate any feedback you may have. Should you have any questions or feedback concerning functionality, please contact:

Other feedback or questions can be directed to Steph Mudie at DHS EIRD:

Culturally responsive and trauma-responsive training

Yaitya Mingkamingka Purrutiapinthi (Aboriginal Trauma Healing)

This two-day training program for Intensive Family Service (IFS) practitioners supports culturally responsive and trauma-responsive practiceIt is designed specifically for practitioners in the CFSS and for the South Australian Aboriginal Community context.

The training touches on the Trauma Responsive System Framework principles. It stimulates self-reflection and increased awareness to address cultural bias and racism.

DHS has funded Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (Aboriginal Family Support Services, KWY Aboriginal Corporation and Tauondi Aboriginal College) to provide this workshop to 300 Intensive Family Service practitioners from July 2021 to December 2022. Feedback from training participants has been very positive.

More information

Trauma Responsiveness videos

Lived Experience involvement and views on trauma responsiveness: videos

The CFSS Lived Experience Network (LEN) played a central role in the development of the Framework. In videos, members explain their involvement and their views on what it means to be trauma-responsive, and why the Framework is so important. The videos are provided here to promote the Framework and start discussions about trauma-responsive practice across the system.

Child Protection and Intensive Family Services Learning Pathway

This PDF file shows the course components in Children's Mental Health and Practice-Based Learning, with an estimated time commitment for each. For example, "The impact of trauma on the child: 1 hour".

There are extra resources to support your learning, such as:

  • webinar
  • podcast
  • practice paper
  • toolkit.

Child protection and intensive family support learning pathway - Emerging Minds Learning (PDF 94 KB)

For further information visit

Other resources supporting trauma-responsive practice are the Common Elements.


The need to embed trauma responsiveness to create a healing system was identified in the codesign process for the Child and Family Support System (CFSS) Reform.

Together with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander System Design Criteria and Codesign principles, the Trauma-responsive system framework forms the basis of ‘Our Healing Approach’ to the reform journey, which is summarised in the Roadmap for Reform.

The development of the Framework was led by Sean Lappin and Dana Shen in collaboration with DHS and informed by evidence and stakeholders from diverse agencies and backgrounds, including people with lived experience.

Taking a whole-of-system approach to building trauma-responsive capacity means that all those involved in the system work together to get better at responding to trauma, wherever it presents.

Page last updated 12 December 2023