The First Response project: Trauma and culturally informed approaches to primary health care for women who experience violence
Research has shown that trauma informed services are effective in reducing the burden of violence against women. This is reflected in Australian policy landscape, including the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010–22, which calls upon services to deliver trauma informed care. However, much of the research that guides policy is based upon Western concepts of trauma, which may not consider First Nations peoples experiences and perspectives on trauma. To address this, the First Response project explored how the workforce within Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs) conceptualise trauma and culturally informed care and how this informs approaches to primary health care for women who are experiencing violence.
Fear, shame and stigma prevents women from disclosing experiences of family violence or intimate partner violence (IPV) and accessing support. This can be compounded for First Nations women due to systemic racism and traumatising experiences with police, legal and health services. In response to these barriers, recommendations include the provision of trauma informed care, in which the multiple, complex nature of women’s lives is properly understood and responded to without judgement or shame.
The partnership for First Response was developed between the researcher team and four New South Wales ACCHOs with the shared vision of centring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ worldviews throughout the research activities. This paper shares the results of the research, including on:
- What trauma and culturally informed care means to ACCHO staff
- Supporting holistic client trajectories
- Finding the right people
- Training and resources