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Little steps towards big change

Overcoming trauma is not a simple process; sometimes it’s a lifelong journey. What might appear to be the littlest of steps to someone on the outside, can in fact be a huge hurdle for someone working to overcome trauma. Celebrating these victories is important, no matter how small the step might be.

Kelly* is a young person who has recently been making many of these small but significant steps. She has experienced a lot of trauma and has been in care for most of her life.

Kelly currently lives in a MacKillop residential care home in Melbourne’s North. When she arrived at the home, she was disengaged from education, lacked personal boundaries and displayed challenging behaviours including being violent towards others.

Over the past year, House Supervisor, Rod, has witnessed Kelly’s developments.

“Kelly is now enrolled back at school and engaging with various youth justice and professional appointments. She’s more engaging with staff and we’ve had no violent incidents in six months.

“Previously Kelly could only live with one other young person due to her behaviours. She’s now able to live with three others which is a huge change for her.”

It’s been a concerted team effort to support Kelly, but as Rod says, having a strong team is essential to enabling young people to make progress, especially when they have been impacted by trauma.

“By having a team with solid boundaries, we’ve shown the young people we’re here for the long haul. Initially we had a lot of resistance from Kelly but she now understands the staff are in control of the house. Knowing the rules creates predictability which is really important.”

As well as strengthening boundaries, the team has focused on building trust with Kelly.

“Kelly now calls this home and is a lot more open with things. She talks to us now. The best thing is the relationship between Kelly and staff.”

Underlying these efforts has been the focus on strengthening the team and bringing them onto the same page.

“Through team meetings, regular supervision and action plans we’ve been able to create consistency and structure. Everyone in the team supports each other and Kelly appreciates the stability of the team caring for her.

Kelly still requires a lot of support but she has come a really long way. Rod says this enables the team to look at some of the more long-term goals for Kelly.

“The plan is to get her back engaged with her family, culture and outside supports.”

*Name changed to protect identity