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Trauma recovery involves the ability to live in the present without being overwhelmed by the negative thoughts, feelings and consequences associated with past traumatic events.

Recovery is an individual experience, which will be and look different for everyone. The Foundation House Trauma Recovery Framework is referred to and applied throughout SIFR. It comprises four interrelated recovery goals that address the effects of traumatic events.

Each of the recovery goals is essentially a way to counter the impact of pre-arrival persecution and human rights violations.

The four goals are to restore:

  1. A sense of safety and control that has been undermined by the effects of anxiety and fear
  2. Attachment and connections to others, which have been lost as a result of prolonged isolation and separation from loved ones
  3. Meaning, identity and justice, concepts that have been undermined by a loss of faith that the world is safe and just
  4. Dignity and value, to address a sense of guilt and shame about making impossible choices or being unable to act.

Protective and risk factors

Settlement in Australia means the opportunity to recover and rebuild lives. It is a difficult process involving a variety of new and ongoing challenges.

Risk factors present barriers to trauma recovery and settlement.

Protective factors reduce risks and support recovery and settlement.

Protective and risk factors should not be viewed in isolation because they are dynamic and interactive. You can identify ways to support students and their families by understanding the range of protective and risk factors impacting upon their lives.

Protective factors
  • Good interpersonal and social competencies
  • Self-efficacy and control
Risk factors
  • Inability to communicate
  • Poorer physical and mental health on arrival
  • Perceived lack of social and economic status
  • Lack of familiarity with dominant culture and its systems
Protective factors
  • Actual or early prospect of family reunification
  • Stimulating and safe family functioning
Risk factors
  • Family members in dangerous circumstances
  • Family stressors including breakdown
  • Illnesses of family members – physical and mental
Protective factors
  • Responsive service systems: health, education, legal and employment
  • Welcoming and inclusive policies and attitudes to diversity
  • Belonging
Risk factors
  • Socioeconomic disadvantage
  • Racism and discrimination
  • Marginalisation
  • Community fragmentation
Protective factors
  • Opportunities for positive connection with other students
  • Engaging parents/carers in students’ at-home learning
  • Use of interpreters and translations
  • Programs to meet learning needs and address gaps
Risk factors
  • Lack of in-class EAL support
  • Limited support during transitions
  • Non-welcoming enrolment processes
  • Reacting to problem behaviour by implementing punishment-based strategies

Supporting Trauma Recovery Across The Whole School

Schools are a natural context for supporting trauma recovery  because safety and inclusion, connections and belonging, meaning and a sense of future are built into their purpose.

School staff, students and families in partnership create a school-wide recovery environment. School’s In for Refugees (SIFR) provides resources to empower all school staff to support students and families, and invites you to create supportive policies, procedures and practices across the whole school addressing six priority areas of action:

  • Teaching and learning
  • School climate
  • Families
  • Transitions
  • Partnerships