Disaster Impacts on Students and Staff from a Specialist, Trauma-Informed Australian School

Abstract

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds often experience high levels of traumatic stress, however, little is known about their experiences and the responses of their teachers following disasters. The aim of this study was to examine, from the perspective of teachers, the impact of a critical community-wide traumatic event on student and staff wellbeing, and student learning and teaching practices at a specialist school for disadvantaged and displaced youth in Australia. Eight school staff were interviewed, including administrative, teaching, and support personnel, with their responses interpreted using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Results focused largely on the impact of the event and the resultant relocation of the school on staff and student health, reduced opportunities for learning, changes to teaching and student engagement, and the strengths and limitations of the trauma-informed approach of the school. Implications for teacher education and school trauma-informed models are discussed.

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Acknowledgments

This study was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. The paper presents the views of the authors and does not represent the views of the Department. The authors would like to acknowledge the contribution of research students Rebecca Lindsay, Chloe Perry and Grace Slatter who, along with Dylan Harrison, conducted the interviews with school staff.

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Correspondence to Emily Berger.

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Berger, E., Carroll, M., Maybery, D. et al. Disaster Impacts on Students and Staff from a Specialist, Trauma-Informed Australian School. Journ Child Adol Trauma 11, 521–530 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40653-018-0228-6

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Keywords

  • Disaster
  • Trauma
  • Disadvantage
  • Children
  • Teachers
  • School