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You are not allowed to tell : organisational culture as a barrier for child protection workers seeking assistance for traumatic stress symptomology Fiona Oates

By: , Oaes, Fiona.
Material type: materialTypeLabelArticleSeries: Children Australia.Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2019Subject(s): ABORIGINAL & TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER PEOPLES | BULLYING | CHILD PROTECTION | INDIGENOUS PEOPLES | SOCIAL SERVICES | SOCIAL WORKERS | TRAUMA | WORKPLACE | IWI TAKETAKE | AUSTRALIA | QUEENSLANDOnline resources: Read abstract | PhD thesis In: Children Australia, 2019, Advance online publication, 2 May 2019Summary: Child protection work is one of the most difficult and complex areas of human services practice. Working within a trauma-laden environment often means that practitioner susceptibility to trauma-related mental health issues is an occupational hazard. However, many practitioners are reluctant to seek support when they start to experience symptoms of traumatic stress. This paper considers current literature relating to child protection workers’ exposure to work-related traumatic material, resulting traumatic stress symptomology and organisational responses to practitioner distress. Results from a recent doctoral study that explores the experiences of child protection practitioners based in Queensland will be presented. Findings from the study were derived from qualitative in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The study findings indicate that the organisational culture within statutory child protection agencies creates an environment where practitioners are labelled as incompetent or not suitable for child protection work when they disclose experiencing symptoms of traumatic stress. The experience of bullying and retribution by supervisors and colleagues and the fear of rejection by the workgroup were also found to be significant barriers for workers seeking support. (Author's abstract). The findings presented in this paper are a subset of findings from a larger doctoral study that explored the experiences of Indigenous child protection workers based in Queensland, Australia. Follow the link to access the author's PhD thesis (James Cook University, Cairns). Record #6271
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Children Australia, 2019, Advance online publication, 2 May 2019

Child protection work is one of the most difficult and complex areas of human services practice. Working within a trauma-laden environment often means that practitioner susceptibility to trauma-related mental health issues is an occupational hazard. However, many practitioners are reluctant to seek support when they start to experience symptoms of traumatic stress. This paper considers current literature relating to child protection workers’ exposure to work-related traumatic material, resulting traumatic stress symptomology and organisational responses to practitioner distress. Results from a recent doctoral study that explores the experiences of child protection practitioners based in Queensland will be presented. Findings from the study were derived from qualitative in-depth, semi-structured interviews. The study findings indicate that the organisational culture within statutory child protection agencies creates an environment where practitioners are labelled as incompetent or not suitable for child protection work when they disclose experiencing symptoms of traumatic stress. The experience of bullying and retribution by supervisors and colleagues and the fear of rejection by the workgroup were also found to be significant barriers for workers seeking support. (Author's abstract).

The findings presented in this paper are a subset of findings from a larger doctoral study that explored the experiences of Indigenous child protection workers based in Queensland, Australia. Follow the link to access the author's PhD thesis (James Cook University, Cairns). Record #6271