Working with women who have experienced complex trauma in mental health and refugee services – a comparative discussion
Complex trauma is best understood as multiple, repeated forms of interpersonal victimisation resulting in traumatic health problems and psychosocial challenges.
Typically, women with complex trauma have experienced child abuse and/or neglect, and subsequent physical and sexual revictimisation in adulthood. This commonly occurs within a context of domestic and family violence. Practitioners across all health and social sectors, including mental health and refugees services, frequently come into contact with women who have experienced complex trauma. However, the term ‘complex trauma’ neither consistently nor well defined in policy or practice.
Drawing on findings from ANROWS research ‘Constructions of complex trauma and implications for women’s wellbeing and safety from violence’, this panel of researchers, practitioners and survivors with lived experience will discuss:
- survivors’ understandings of complex trauma and the way this differs across different professionals
- how these different understandings impact practice and women’s experiences of services
- trauma-informed care in mental health and refugee services, and how they differ
- why a shared understanding of complex trauma is important for services working with women who have experienced domestic and family violence
- what changes can be made to improve trauma-informed care across the health and social service sectors.
This webinar is designed for:
- practitioners working in mental health, refugee, sexual assault, domestic and family violence and other health services
- practitioners working with women who have experienced complex trauma
- policymakers working in social and health sectors
Associate Professor Michael Salter
Associate Professor Michael Salter is a criminologist and Scientia Fellow at the University of New South Wales, where he studies the criminological aspects of complex trauma. His research focuses on the violence and exploitation that underlies trauma and dissociation, and the responses of professionals and services to the complex entanglements of abuse and trauma. He is the author of two books, Organised Sexual Abuse (Routledge, 2013) and Crime, Justice and Social Media (Routledge, 2017), and many papers on child abuse and gendered violence. He sits on the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation and advises child protection and violence prevention agencies in Australia and internationally.
Amy is a Clinical Psychologist and has worked at Queensland Program of Assistance to Survivors of Torture and Trauma (QPASTT) for the past 4 years, currently working as the Manager of Clinical Services. Her current role encompasses providing professional supervision to direct practice QPASTT staff, as well as overseeing clinical governance and supporting clinical incidents. Prior to this she worked in the tertiary education sector providing clinical supervision for higher degree pathway to registration and lecturing across varying topics and degrees. Amy has worked with refugees and asylum seekers over the past 10 years in varying capacities including in clinical practice, providing supervision to clinical staff and managerial roles. She is passionate about working with refugees and asylum seekers to support their healing but also supporting clinicians and other health care providers to feel confident in their work with survivors of torture and trauma also.
Scarlett is a complex trauma survivor and researcher at The University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine and Health. Her work examines stigmatised adaptations to trauma through co-produced research, sharing power over the research design, conduct, and translation with service-users and survivors of the mental health system. Her policy-making contributions include co-authoring a position paper on comprehensive sex education for the Australian Association of Adolescent Health, evaluating policy strategies for Headspace, and conducting legislative research on complex trauma for Democratic members of the United States House of Representatives. As an ambassador for the #LetHerSpeak campaign, she contributed to a legislative submission to the Tasmanian Attorney-General that successfully overturned legislation silencing and retraumatising sexual violence victims. As an advocate for dissociative survivors, she has addressed government and community stakeholders and clinicians on behalf of the Blue Knot Foundation, Weave Youth Services, Family Planning NSW, End Rape on Campus Australia, and the Australian Government Productivity Commission.
Dr. Karen Williams
Dr. Karen Williams is a Consultant Psychiatrist and works at South Coast Private Hospital in Wollongong NSW. In her role, Karen provides treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD. Karen is the Special Advisor on Mental Health at the Illawarra Women’s Health Centre. She is also a member of the Professional Advisory Group for The Trauma Recovery Centre currently in development on NSW’s South Coast. Karen is the founder of Doctors Against Violence Towards Women an advocacy group aimed at promoting the mental and physical safety of women who are survivors of sexual assault and domestic and family violence.
Michele joined ANROWS in 2017 as the Director, Evidence to Action. Michele leads the translation and dissemination of research at ANROWS to support the take-up of evidence into policy and practice, to reduce violence against women and their children. This role builds on Michele’s 18 years of experience in leadership roles developing advice and strategies on research, knowledge partnerships and exchange in a diverse range of sectors, including the prevention of violence against women and their children.