About vicarious trauma

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About vicarious trauma

  • Vicarious trauma is the detrimental impact of hearing about or witnessing the aftermath of traumatic events;
  • Vicarious trauma is a risk for anyone exposed to the trauma of others;
  • Vicarious trauma is a Work Health & Safety issue;
  • Vicarious trauma can be managed.

Who experiences vicarious trauma?

The following types of professions are often at risk of vicarious traumatisation:

  • Police
  • Firefighters
  • Ambulance
  • Emergency Services
  • Health
  • Military
  • Rescue
  • Psychology, Social Work and Counselling
  • Community Services
  • Child Protection
  • Law
  • Human Rights

Trauma impacts can manifest as vicarious trauma, secondary traumatic stress or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Workers who are exposed to traumatic events, whether that be hearing about incidents of abuse, violence, torture or neglect from those who have had that experience (vicarious trauma), witnessing the trauma experienced by others (secondary traumatic stress) or directly experiencing events where they are in danger (PTSD) can all experience trauma impacts.

If people are exposed to trauma as a product of their work, the impacts they may experience are work, health and safety related and should be managed within the WH&S framework.

Support in managing vicarious trauma

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia can work with organisations of any size, with any budget, to support staff in managing the impacts of vicarious trauma.

Check out our Training & Professional Services page for consultation, supervision, workshops and more: