Trauma informed & Culturally dignified teaching in social work

Trauma informed & Culturally dignified teaching in social work

The aim of this project is to explore how Social Work students experience teaching that has a focus on trauma or culture, and to examine how that shapes the development of their professional identity. To address this, the study examines the extent to which students’ engagement with culturally informed and trauma informed content through their Master of Social Work (Professional Qualifying) program at Southern Cross University impacts on their professional identity and practice framework

Research Design

A mixed method research design formed the basis of the study.  An invitation to complete a brief on-line survey was sent via email to all social work students who had completed the introductory unit Social Work Foundations for Practice where they are introduced to trauma informed and decolonization knowledge.  Completion of a simple survey involving open ended questions. 

Why is the research important?

Critical social work education, and by extension decolonised teaching, requires that students are able to locate themselves within the systems of power and oppression they exist within, and examine their relationship with power.  Trauma-informed teaching and learning ensures that educators create culturally safe spaces that enable students to engage well with content. The process of decolonising and trauma informed teaching in social work education therefore starts by helping students to identify the most trauma and culturally appropriate practices to engage in their work as professionals. Early socialisation into the profession’s values and commitment to trauma and culturally informed practice is crucial if graduates are to commit to the anti-oppressive ideals of the profession

Research Team

Academic Publications to Date

  1. Gatwiri, K. and Mapedzahama, V. (2022), "Pedagogy or “trauma porn”? Racial literacy as a prerequisite for teaching racially dignifying content in the Australian social work context", Journal for Multicultural Education,
  2. Gatwiri, K & Ife, J (2021). Teaching about vulnerability and love in social work: lessons and reflections from two academics. Social Work Education. org/10.1080/02615479.2021.1972962
  3. Tascon S., & Gatwiri, K (2020). Towards Cultural Humility: Theorising Cultural Competence as Institutionalised Whiteness. Social Work & Policy Studies: Social Justice, Practice and Theory, 9 (1). (open Access)