When a child experiences trauma, their age and level of maturity can influence how they react. Some children find it hard to understand their feelings and struggle to verbalise them. Despite the difference in their ability to describe what they are experiencing, children can be affected by the same range of reactions an adult experiences following a traumatic event.
A child’s age impacts on the way they express their distress and what they may need to recover. There are some signs to look out for in children who may be having difficulties but do not necessarily lead to long-term problems. Most are normal and will resolve in time with the help of caring family members and friends.
Some of the signs to watch for include:
• Reliving the trauma through dreams, play, preoccupation with traumatic events
• Distress when reminded of the traumatic event
• Disorganised or agitated behaviour
• Avoiding reminders
• Withdrawal from people
• Losing interest in significant activities
• Over alert – hypervigilance
• Sleep trouble
• Unusually clingy
• Physical discomfort
• Changes in behaviour eg. regression
HOW TO HELP
It’s important to recognise that the child’s behaviour may be a response to the trauma. Reassure the child that they are safe. Have open honest communication about the experience, including both talking and listening. Give the child special attention and allow them to express their emotions. Offer comfort when they are distressed. Correct any misunderstandings or unwarranted fears.
Give clear honest information in an age-appropriate way. Encourage enjoyable activities and have quality family time together. Maintain routine where possible. Using creative practices such as drawing or writing about the experience helps children to understand and process their feelings. Using play for young children is another way to help them communicate and process what they are feeling. Normalise any emotions they experience.
WHEN TO GET PROFESSIONAL HELP
If the reactions described in this post are severe or continue for an extended period, the child could be experiencing a more serious reaction and may need professional help. Contacting a health practitioner is also recommended if a child is experiencing:
• Severe and continued sleep disturbance
• Severe anxiety when separated from loved ones
• Continued fears about things which may remind the child of the trauma
• Behaviour problems at home or school
• Self-doubts, withdrawal or other significant changes in emotions or personality
• A return to ‘babyish’ behaviour that the child had outgrown
• Intense and ongoing emotional upset
• Substance use, dangerous or risk-taking behaviours.
We offer free state-wide professional counselling to anyone impacted by road trauma and are open Monday to Friday between 9 am and 5 pm. To make an appointment call 1300 367 797.
As you may know, Cameron Sinclair, who was CEO of Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) for more than six years finished on 31 December 2018. Due to the holiday period, the search for a new CEO is still in progress.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Bernadette Nugent, currently RTSSV’s Manager of Counselling and Support Services, to the position of Interim Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. Bernadette joined RTSSV in 2012 and has had more than 30 years’ experience working with families in a variety of settings with a focus on grief and trauma.
Bernadette is passionate about not-for-profit organisations and about offering quality programs and services that are relevant, accessible and responsive to the needs of the community they serve. She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role and will guide RTSSV during this transitional period with the assistance of the Board.
Current counsellors, Connie Ogan and Jane Phillips will be sharing the Counselling and Support Services Manager role.
We thank Cameron for his great contribution to RTSSV for the past six and half years, he has driven a positive transformation within the organisation and leaves us in a stable financial position from which we can continue in our long-term growth.
Bernadette is very much looking forward to working with our dedicated team of volunteers, staff and stakeholders and continue our work in reducing the incidence and impact of road trauma.
The Board will continue the search for a permanent Chief Executive Officer.
As a lawyer working with people who had sustained terrible and often lifelong injuries in road crashes, Michael identified the need for people to be emotionally supported in their journeys of grief and trauma.
During his involvement with, and participation in the initial committee which was to become Road Trauma Support Team, he offered his expertise in law to assist the program in its early incarnation. Hence the Befriender Program, and ultimately Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) was born.
He dedicated the following decade to the fledgling committee and organization, ensuring its financial survival. Of particular note was his participation in the Rose Weekend, a fundraising initiative that was instrumental in the early successes of the organisation. Later his astute business acumen and savvy professional connections were once again instrumental in creating a philosophically aligned relationship with the Transport Accident Commission, a relationship that continues 19 years after inception.
His support of our work has, as recently as this year, continued to provide opportunities for us, ultimately for the benefit of Victorians impacted by road trauma.
And so, after 24 years of friendship, support, guidance and dogged determination, it is our privilege and pleasure to admit Michael Lombard (pictured below with CEO, Cameron Sinclair) to Honorary Life Membership with RTSSV.
Commencing their journey with Road Trauma Support Services Victoria (RTSSV) in 2003 when, three years after commencing their careers as paramedics with Ambulance Victoria (then Metropolitan Ambulance Service), they responded to an article calling for volunteer speakers in our Road Trauma Awareness Seminar program.
During their early careers, they had witnessed road trauma on many occasions and had key learnings they wanted to share to make a positive difference to the attitudes and behaviours of drivers charged with driving offences. In their words, they learned that:
- Road trauma is mostly avoidable
- Road trauma incidents are largely due to people’s poor choices and
- That the devastation road trauma causes also has impacts on our emergency services personnel and first responders
Their experiences in assisting people directly impacted by road trauma have informed their work with RTSSV and their innate generosity and compassion led them to continue to both positively influence driver behaviour, and also offer much needed and invaluable peer support to other volunteer speakers who are also impacted by road trauma.
Whilst they have stated in this year’s annual report that they are inspired by the resilience and courage of our volunteer speakers, it is us who are inspired by their generosity and commitment since 2004 to our organisation and road safety.
It is our privilege and pleasure to admit RTSSV’s first-ever husband and wife team to Honorary Life Membership, Kate Drain-Parkin and Chris Parkin (pictured below with CEO, Cameron Sinclair).
Thursday 30 August 2018 starting at 6:15 pm – 9.00 pm
31 McKenzie Street, Melton
Are you a young adult driver or the parent of a young adult driver? Don’t miss this FREE forum and your chance to improve your understanding of road safety.
Learn more about road rules and the effects of road trauma including serious injury and fatal collisions. The forum aims to teach residents more about road rules and the effects of road trauma. Guest speakers will share insights into their experiences of dealing with the effects of road collisions. The event will have guest speakers, brochures and showbags with educational material, providing plenty of information on road safety.
All residents are encouraged to attend, especially teenage drivers and their parents.
You can register or find out more information here>> https://bit.ly/2v8YVfB
7pm Wednesday 1 August 2018
Heritage Funeral Home
1414 Healesville KooWeeRup Road
Doors will be open from 6.30pm onwards.
The presentation provides an in-depth insight into what happens in a road crash and the resulting road trauma. The impacts are real and devastating for emergency services, witnesses, work colleagues, friends and family members.
This program is for young people learning to drive, those who are on their P’s or those who have been driving for years.
Please come and support this important community initiative from the Yarra Valley Emergency Services who would rather meet you at a presentation than meet you at a crash.
Find out more information here>> Yarra Valley TRIP
Join us at the Workplace Health & Safety Show at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre from 23-24 May 2018. We will be at stand D07, make sure you drop past to say hello.
An exciting addition to the safety industry event landscape, the Show is the official exhibition of the #SAFETYSCAPE Convention, a week-long program of events, workshops, forums, seminars and conferences hosted by the Safety Institute of Australia.
The Workplace Health & Safety Show will present safety professionals with the broadest range of offerings under the one roof where they can compare, buy and stay updated on the latest products and policies.
The Workplace Health & Safety Show is a must-attend event for all safety professionals from a range of industries including manufacturing, building/construction, mining, councils/local government, hospitals, transport and more.
To find out more, visit www.whsshow.com.au
Join us at the Magistrates’ Court Open Day on Saturday 19 May, Karen Robinson, our North West Metro Regional Coordinator and volunteer speaker will share her road trauma story, from 2:00 pm to 2:45 pm.
Karen shares her story in the hope that people will think about their own risky driving behaviour and become more responsible, safer drivers – to help save lives, reduce serious injury and avoid a possible jail sentence.
Make sure you visit our information stand on the day.
Melbourne Magistrates’ Court, 233 William Street, Melbourne. #LawWeek