What is vicarious trauma?

Vicarious trauma refers to the detrimental impacts suffered by people who are indirectly exposed to traumatic material. Workers are exposed to traumatic material when they are deployed in disaster or combat zones, assist others in emergencies, or witness or hear about incidents of abuse, violence, torture, or neglect.  

The only predictor of whether or not a person will experience vicarious trauma is their exposure to traumatic material. This means that if people are exposed to traumatic material as a product of their work, vicarious trauma is a work, health and safety hazard.

R&DVSA recognises that the number one Work Health & Safety (WH&S) injury for those working with people who have experienced trauma is vicarious trauma. While vicarious trauma is a considerable WH&S risk, it can be managed effectively - Vicarious Trauma Management.

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