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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.

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.

CFSS 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.

Yaitya Mingkamingka Purrutiapinthi (Aboriginal Trauma Healing)

Child Protection and Intensive Family Services Learning Pathway

A free, online Child Protection and Intensive Family Services Learning Pathway has been created on the Emerging Minds website. It includes introductory and specialised courses and other learning resources to support you.

Child Protection and Intensive Family Services Learning Pathway

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

Focus – Taking a Systems Approach to Building our Trauma Responsive Capacity

‘Focus’ is an online change management tool developed by Emerging Minds to support organisations in building their trauma responsiveness. It supports organisations to understand their progress along their trauma responsive journey.

Focus landing page

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.


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 Jan 2023

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