The Sanctuary Model

MacKillop Family Services is an accredited Sanctuary organisation and the official training provider of The Sanctuary Model in Australia.

MacKillop Family Services is the official Australian provider of the Sanctuary Institute's trauma-informed care framework.

“Sanctuary has helped me to feel safe, explore my trauma and understand how it impacts my life… I now understand why I do the things I do” – Jesse-Lee, MacKillop Family Services client

The Sanctuary Model is a framework for organisations to build safe communities that help people heal from trauma.


The Sanctuary Model (Sanctuary) focuses on safety and creating an understanding of how past adversity and trauma can continue to affect someone’s behaviour. It recognises that trauma has an impact not only on the people who have experienced it, but also on the staff who work with them and on organisations as a whole.

Sanctuary enables an organisation to create a safe, non-violent environment that teaches people to cope effectively with stress and trauma, and heal their emotional and behavioural health issues. It also supports staff and carers to form communities that are supportive and caring, and to maintain a culture that reflects these qualities at every level within the organisation.

Sanctuary is an evidence-based approach that was developed by Dr Sandra Bloom. It is based on her experiences working in an acute care psychiatric unit where most of her patients had survived traumatic childhood experiences. More than 300 organisations have become part of the international Sanctuary Network.

Sanctuary has helped us understand:

  • working with traumatised people can lead to staff and organisations becoming ‘trauma-organised’
  • how to redefine what safety means for everyone within our MacKillop community
  • 100 per cent of our clients and staff have experienced adversity and will benefit from trauma-informed care
  • how trauma-informed care leads to improved outcomes for clients and improved staff satisfaction and retention
  • establishing the Sanctuary framework has resulted in a decrease in violence (physical, verbal and emotional) and stress in the workplace
  • how to make our processes more democratic

Sanctuary's trauma-informed framework has four key pillars:

  • Trauma Theory - Trauma can alter the brain functioning and behaviour of those who experience it, especially children and young people. Trauma affects individuals as well as whole systems or organisations
  • The S.E.L.F Framework - S.E.L.F is a framework for solving complex problems presented by trauma survivors, families, and chronically stressed systems and organisations. S.E.L.F stands for the key areas of trauma recovery (Safety, Emotion, Loss and Future)
  • Sanctuary Tools – The tools include Community Meetings, Safety Plans, Red Flag Reviews, Team Meetings, Psychoeducation, Treatment/Service Planning, Supervision/Coaching, Training
  • The Seven Sanctuary Commitments - Nonviolence, Emotional Intelligence, Social Learning, Democracy, Open Communication, Social Responsibility, Growth and Change

Further information:

For further information about how The Sanctuary Model could benefit you, your staff or your organisation contact us on (03) 9699 9177 or sanctuary@mackillop.org.au.

Working with Sanctuary

MacKillop staff share how The Sanctuary Model has positively impacted the children, young people and families we work with.