With COVID-19 challenging how we work, Deputy Director Pauline Connelly recently spoke to Social Work Talk about vicarious trauma on the front lines of community services.

Research commissioned by Centacare identifies key measures to help community service workers minimise the effects of vicarious trauma, compassion fatigue and burnout.

Released late last year by Centacare and UniSA’s The Australian Alliance for Social Enterprise, Understanding Vicarious Trauma  reveals the strength and resilience of our dedicated workforce, but warns the constant demand for staff empathy and compassion can take a heavy toll.

The research recognises the strength workers take from client stories, and how small wins inspire hope, resilience, self-worth and a sense of purpose.

`For heads of departments to be able to
give themselves permission to ask the
question, ‘how are our workers going?’ That
actually makes us very vulnerable to ask
that question. Because when we ask it, and
when we get the answer, then we have a
responsibility to do something about it.’
– Pauline Connelly, Deputy Director


Centacare’s internal culture, strong peer relationships, and the need for time and space to help workers counter the emotional demands of caring for our most vulnerable, are among other core themes in the research.

The study commends Centacare as a leader in working to ensure the wellbeing of staff but notes vicarious traumatisation is a `ticking timebomb’ and requires immediate and ongoing attention across the wider community services sector.

To read Joanne Young’s conversation with Pauline, click HERE.

To download a copy of our research paper, click HERE.