Principle 5: Healing is trauma-informed

Aboriginal holistic healing approaches to family violence will be sensitive to the trauma and impact of family violence on individuals and families as well as the accumulated trauma experienced by Aboriginal people and communities as a result of colonisation.

Trauma-informed approaches allow individuals and families to better understand the impact of multiple causes of trauma and distress, including unresolved or accumulated trauma, on their current circumstances, and support holistic healing and recovery.

Healing can be applied to multiple facets of individual, family and community life.

Approaches to address trauma will build on the strength of Aboriginal families and communities and encompass Aboriginal concepts of social, emotional, cultural and spiritual wellbeing. Cultural knowledge, cultural identity and cultural strengths need to be drawn upon to address healing needs, and to build whole-of-person and whole-of family resilience.

We need long term management to address trauma - Research participant

A whole-of-person and whole-of-family approach to restoring social and emotional health and wellbeing will support choice and build on strengths including by strengthening connections to: spirit; land; culture;
community; family and kinship; mind and emotions; and body.

It is also acknowledged that an appropriately skilled workforce is required to deliver quality trauma-informed approaches, and that ongoing trauma-related workforce training and support is important.

Healing involves the application of existing cultural knowledge to address trauma and post-generational trauma using traditional and contemporary practices - ThinkCamp participant

Healing is one of the most common ways of understanding Aboriginal peoples' experience of recovery from trauma and other mental health and social and emotional wellbeing difficulties, including unresolved grief and loss - ThinkCamp participant

We need to be looking at trauma informed services, especially for children - Research participant

Service design characteristics

Evidence highlights that overcoming trauma is more likely when approaches are informed by Aboriginal culture. Such approaches empower and support individuals and communities to heal and recover. The following characteristics underpin trauma-informed approaches in the context of designing holistic healing approaches:

  • A trauma-informed approach includes the revival of traditional practices, other therapeutic approaches and draw upon cultural knowledge.
  • Restore spiritual balance to achieve psychological and physical wellbeing.
  • Trauma-informed responses include child-centred approaches.
  • People are empowered to identify their own problems and take control of their own healing.
  • Trauma approaches are evidence-based.
  • Approaches to healing vary according to the individual, family and community.
  • Healing is a non-linear journey that requires flexibility in time, space, access and intensity.
  • Victim survivors are believed and supported to understand their grief, loss and trauma.

What does this look like in practice for?

Aboriginal people who need healing are provided with:

  • Whole-of-family holistic healing to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma of violence.
  • With community-led, culturally appropriate trauma-informed interventions from skilled staff.
  • Are provided with the space and time to heal from trauma.
  • Support to understand the impact of past policies and practices of intergenerational trauma, and its impact in relation to their experience of grief, loss and trauma.

Aboriginal organisations and communities:

  • Build a strong knowledge base to understand trauma and its impact on individuals (including children), families and communities.
  • Utilise community wisdom in designing holistic healing approaches.
  • Deliver Aboriginal-specific trauma and recovery holistic healing practices in culturally safe spaces.
  • Support the emotional wellbeing and safety of Aboriginal people at all times.
  • Value their Aboriginal staff for their personal community knowledge, and build a trauma-informed skill base.
  • Utilise respected Elders, community members, Traditional Owners and emerging leaders who hold healing knowledge to support holistic, trauma-informed healing.
  • Implement healing practices for their staff, and ensure they receive ongoing support and trauma-related training.


  • Ensure that all funded holistic healing initiatives utilise trauma-informed approaches that are appropriately tailored for the individual and/or family.
  • Ensure that funding includes capacity to deliver flexible trauma responses based on individuals and community needs.