By CELA on 19 Nov, 2018

Last week’s article from Sarah Riddell explored what it means to support a child with trauma and suggested actions including building your knowledge of referrals for families to help their children.

If you have these contact numbers accessible all of  the time, and ideally the name of someone within that support service, you can more easily facilitate the next step and help alleviate the family’s anxiety surrounding the trauma recovery process.

- Sarah Riddell

Sarah’s point is well made: for various reasons, you may not get more than one opportunity to help a family whose child has experienced trauma. Having quick access to contact details for a local specialist service means you can immediately turn a conversational opening with the child’s family into an active referral.

We’ve compiled a starter list to help you research the best sources in your state or territory.  If you’ve already got a great public resource or service for families in your region, please consider sharing the link in the comments (no private promotions please, publicly funded services only).

In addition, we’ve added some helpful, easy-to-read articles we found in our research that you may wish to share with families and the educators on your team.

What’s behind the trauma?

First, a refresher from Sarah’s article on understanding causes of childhood trauma:

Most educators find their understanding comes more easily easier when they see trauma as a continuum – a range of impacts that can affect the child in different ways based on factors like the nature of the trauma, the age of the child, and the time that has passed.

Trauma affects everyone differently and there are different categories of trauma. These include:

  • Primary – where a situation immediately affected a child
  • Secondary – where a child was indirectly affected by trauma
  • Complex – where a child is repeatedly exposed to or experiences traumatic events or an event that is likely to go on to affect a child’s long term development and wellbeing
  • Developmental – relating to abuse or abandonment in a child’s first years of life
  • Transgenerational – where the trauma experienced is passed to future generations along the line 

Resources for educators

Sarah’s article and many others we have published on Amplify  referred educators to the excellent KidsMatter website as a source of professional advice.

In an extension of that advice, you may not be aware of the joint initiative between KidsMatter and Beyond Blue.

The BeYou website and resources focus more directly on helping educators improve their skills with children needing mental health support in their early years.

Be You empowers educators by supporting them to develop their mental health skills and knowledge, while also providing guidance on how to implement a whole-learning community approach.

BeYou website

You can register (free)  to make maximum use of the online services, or start by downloading this handbook which explains more.,

Scroll to the end for a range of sessions CELA offers educators that can be customised to any service.  Some calendar opportunities are also still available.

Resources for families

Another initiative of the Beyond Blue foundation, the Healthy Families online material is written for a parent and caregiver audience and has advice and support for children in all age groups.

Under the 1-5 years section, there is a Mental Health page which mirrors the advice educators receive about advice you would like to share

Below is an extract from the Beyond Blue summary for families looking for more support for concerns about their child’s mental health.

You may wish to use this summary to help you develop a list of more local or regional contacts which your service may wish to provide to families seeking help for their child’s trauma.

Read the full Healthy Families article here.

Mental health supports: where to start

General Practitioners

Your family GP is often the best place to start when your child needs help. They can give you advice and help you decide whether further investigation and treatment is necessary.  A doctor’s referral is needed to be able to claim the Medicare rebate for treatment from mental health professionals.

Service-based psychologist/counsellors

Some school-based preschools and early childhood services have access to a regional or on-site psychologist or counsellor. Psychologists or counsellors with specialist knowledge and experience working with children with mental health difficulties can provide assessment and treatment. They work in partnership with parents, carers and early childhood staff to support children and may recommend specialist services for families who need extra help.

Other health professionals who can help


Paediatricians are doctors who specialise in treating children for a wide range of difficulties. When investigating a difficulty, they consider the child’s level of development compared to other children of the same age. A referral from your GP is needed to see a paediatrician.

Mental health professionals

Mental health professionals provide assessment and treatment for a range of emotional, behavioural, social and developmental difficulties.

Different professions specialise in childhood mental health – child psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, social workers, speech and language therapists, psychotherapists, family therapists and nurses.

Mental health professionals offer a range of therapies, and also work with children’s families/carers and other services who might be involved.

Fees for these services can vary, so it’s best to ask about out-of-pocket expenses upfront. You’ll need a referral from your GP to claim the Medicare rebate.

Source: Beyond Blue Healthy Families website

CELA sessions

CELA also offers specialist services to support educators.

Contact CELA here.

Sessions include

Vulnerable and Valuable

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

The Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) shows that 1 in 5 children are developmentally vulnerable on one or more domain(s). Good programs at critical points in development are able to shape children’s outcomes across five domains (AEDC).

Early childhood educators play a vital role in reducing vulnerabilities in children. Attending this workshop will enable educators to understand disadvantage and how this impacts on a child’s development as well as behaviour, relationships and participation.

This valuable workshop is designed to equip educators with positive engagement strategies and program ideas to support vulnerable children and their families.

How Children’s Brains Grow and Develop

Did you know that when a baby is born, their brain actually contains more neurons than there are stars in the Milky Way?

Exploring the science and research around how children’s brains grow and develop, this workshop will enable educators to:

  • Understand how trauma impacts on the brain and a child’s behaviour
  • Realise how educators’ practice assists in building children’s brains
  • Discover how play can assist children’s brain growth and development

This workshop will provide educators with an enhanced understanding of the difference between a child and an adult brain and the impact of brain development on children’s development and behaviour.

Speaking their Language (ECE and OSHC sessions available).

All behaviour is a form of communication. This workshop is designed to assist educators in understanding what children are communicating through challenging behaviours.

By exploring theories such as emotional intelligence and working with trauma research, this workshop aims to help educators identify the ‘why’ and ‘what’ behind a child’s behaviour. Educators will have the opportunity to discuss effective strategies to engage and work with children who exhibit challenging behaviours.

This is an essential workshop for educators wanting to know how to work more effectively with children who display challenging behaviours.

Sessions can be customised to meet the needs of the service and there are still calendar opportunities available.

Meet the author


Bec Lloyd is the founder and managing director of Bec & Call Communication, providing professional writing, editing and strategy services to the school and early childhood education sector since 2014. In 2018 she launched UnYucky mindset and menus for happier family mealtimes. Formerly the communications lead at ACECQA and BOS (now NESA), Bec is a journo and mother of three who produces Amplify for us at Community Early Learning Australia.

About CELA

Community Early Learning Australia is a not for profit organisation with a focus on amplifying the value of early learning for every child across Australia - representing our members and uniting our sector as a force for quality education and care.

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