​Our Trauma Informed Statement approach to working with victims and survivors experiencing the forensic mental health system


    Purpose

    To outline the trauma informed approach to all Specialist Victims Support Service (our team) communication with victims/survivors.

    Trauma can impact victims and survivors experiencing the forensic mental health system in different ways

    Victims/survivors of a crime can be impacted by trauma in different ways. For example, some victims may experience nightmares, intense and fluctuating emotions, memory loss and find it difficult to trust others due to the trauma they have experienced. Trauma can impact all areas of a person's life.

    The forensic mental health system is complex and can involve a matter being transferred to and from the court to the Mental Health Review Tribunal (the Tribunal) a number of times. This means the trauma of a crime can be further complicated by a matter being dealt with by the forensic mental health system, rather than the normal criminal justice process.

    Our team is a part of Victims Services. We provide victims/survivors navigating the forensic mental health system with communication and education, crisis referral and planned support (for example, referring clients to housing assistance, counselling and financial support). We also provide victims/survivors with Tribunal process support (for example, assistance preparing submissions to the Tribunal), early intervention and we manage the Specialist Victims Register on behalf of the Commissioner of Victims Rights.

    Our key principles of a Trauma Informed Approach are:

    • To be victim/survivor centred and demonstrate courtesy and respect at all times.
    • To work with victims/survivors to develop and use suitable methods of communicating with them.
    • To work with victims/survivors to provide referral and support based on the person's needs at the time.
    • To acknowledge the victim/survivor's trauma and experience and focus on victim/survivor strengths.
    • To provide information to victims/survivors in a timely manner in a way that is easy to understand.
    • To tailor all communications to best suit the individual.
    • To build a trusting and honest relationship with the victim/survivor.

    Our team will put these principles into trauma informed practice by:

    • Working within the framework of the Charter of Victims Rights.
    • Ensuring all victim/survivor information is confidential.
    • Showing transparency, honesty and credibility in all communications with victims/survivors.
      • Considering and using strategies to minimise harm and the risks of re-traumatising victims/survivors.
      • Clearly communicating our roles, responsibilities and limitations to our service.
      • Asking victims/survivors what they would like us to contact them about, when and how they would like us to contact them.
    • Treating all victims/survivors of diverse cultural and racial backgrounds, sexual orientation, gender, disability and other circumstances equally.
    • Adjusting our communication styles to acknowledge that everyone is different and to communicate empathetically and effectively with victim/survivors.
    • Acknowledging victim/survivor's correspondence and submissions.
    • Helping victims/survivors feel physically and emotionally safe.
    • Being sensitive to the victim/survivor's needs and listening to their concerns.
    • Using plain English and avoiding jargon to make sure written communications with victims/survivors are always accurate, clear and concise.
      • Providing information about Tribunal hearings, outcomes and processes in a way that is easy to understand.
      • Using facts sheets to help explain complex concepts and processes and answering any questions a victim/survivor might have.
    • Helping to make sure a victim/survivor's voice is heard.
    • Building rapport and positive relationships with victims/survivors and being aware of appropriate professional boundaries.
    • Seeking and considering feedback from victims/survivors on how we can continually improve our service.
    • Avoiding contacting victim/survivors at sensitive times unless in the case of an emergency.
    • Using face to face meetings or telephone conversations to explain complex concepts or convey information that may be upsetting to the victim/survivor, unless they have requested otherwise.
    • Avoiding judgement and focusing on understanding and accepting all victims/survivors compassionately.