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The multi-billion dollar cost of unresolved childhood trauma in Australia

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30 May

The multi-billion dollar cost of unresolved childhood trauma in Australia

launch-admin May 30, 2014 0 1500

MEDIA RELEASE ASCA calls for widespread adoption of guidelines and training for GPs and allied health professionals in complex trauma Australia, Monday 26 May 2014: Adults Surviving Child Abuse (ASCA) today called for mandatory national guidelines and training for health professionals to assist them in responding to the long-term impacts of childhood trauma. A significant public health issue, the lifetime burden of unresolved childhood trauma, is estimated to cost Australia as much as $40 billion as a result of each year of abuse[i]. President of ASCA, Dr Cathy Kezelman, said: “Unresolved trauma is one of our greatest public health concerns. Failures to identify, acknowledge and respond appropriately to trauma costs the Australian public health system billions of dollars, funds we can ill afford in the current economic climate. “It is the root cause of many significant mental and physical health challenges as well as substance abuse, yet we have no significant investment to help with trauma. ASCA have worked for a number of years to develop best practice guidelines in this area which have already made a substantial difference to public health outcomes. By understanding and identifying this early, and responding appropriately, we can avoid the huge costs to society and make people’s lives healthier and happier.” Announced today, the internationally acclaimed Guidelines developed by ASCA, The Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Complex Trauma & Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery, have been officially recognised as an “Accepted Clinical Resource” by The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). Putting the evidence presented in the Guidelines into practice has the capacity to revolutionise the way in which primary care practitioners respond to patients presenting with trauma related issues – including those who have experienced childhood mental, physical and sexual abuse; neglect and domestic violence. Dr Kezelman added: “The ASCA Guidelines are addressing the wider problem; they establish the evidence around the issue and possibilities for recovery. We are encouraged by the successful uptake of the Guidelines by large numbers of diverse health practitioners – it’s a significant step towards turning this issue around. The vital next stage is for the Federal Government to embed the ASCA Guidelines as standards for practice and invest in broad-based education and training of primary and allied health practitioners.” Key research findings show: * Overseas studies show that when health practitioners identify and acknowledge the prior trauma of patients experiencing childhood trauma, there is 35% reduction in visits to doctor’s surgeries and an 11% reduction in visits to emergency departments[ii]. * Recent Australian research found that adults with a history of childhood abuse suffer from significantly more health conditions, incur higher annual health care costs and are more likely to harm themselves. The results suggest that child abuse has long-lasting economic and welfare costs. The costs are greatest for those who experienced both physical and sexual abuse[iii]. * Australian studies show that child abuse survivors are almost two and a half times as likely to have poor mental health outcomes, four times more likely to be unhappy even in much later life and more likely to have poor physical health.[iv] * Global research shows that 76% of adults reporting child physical abuse and neglect experience at least one psychiatric disorder in their lifetime and nearly 50% have three or more psychiatric disorders.[v] * Global data found that 90% of public mental health clients have been exposed to multiple physical or sexual abuse traumas. Without intervention, adverse childhood events (ACES) result in long-term disease, disability, chronic social problems and early death[vi]. Dr Kezelman commented: “With the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse we have borne witness as a nation to the terrible legacy of childhood trauma. Their impacts reverberate not just through the individual survivor’s life but also through their children, those around them and society as a whole. “Essentially the Guidelines offer the grounding for the education and training needed for all health professionals, and now includes specifically those in the primary health care sector. Improved practices, as identified in the Guidelines, will help reduce the burden of the disease related to unresolved trauma and improve the lives of victims as well as those of their children.” Since their launch at Parliament House in October 2012, the Guidelines, and education and training based on them, has been improving outcomes for the five million Australians with unaddressed trauma issues[vii], particularly child abuse. To date over 7,000 health practitioners and agencies have downloaded or purchased the Guidelines. Australian General Practitioner Dr Johanna Lynch said: “The prevalence of adults who have survived childhood trauma and neglect – or complex trauma – in our community, and its effects on physical, psychological and relational wellbeing is currently not acknowledged in general practice training. As research into this area becomes more robust, and real treatment options become validated, GPs need to become skilled in identifying, managing and providing trauma informed care. “ASCA has led the way in defining best practice through developing the internationally acclaimed ASCA’s Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery. Caring for this group of people in our society needs greater awareness of the particular issues – issues that make them less likely to self-present, and to seek medical care, and the delicate task of engaging them in treatment that has the potential to be life giving to both them and their families. I fully endorse the work that ASCA is doing to provide my profession with new information and skills to better serve our community.” Dr Lynch is from the Fellow of Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, Fellow of Australian Psychological Medicine Society, member of the Cannan Institute and ASCA Advisory board member. ASCA delivers training and workshops for health practitioners, including doctors, psychologists and counsellors, supporting people with trauma-related issues. For more information and to access fact sheets and other online resources go to www.asca.org.au Help and support is available from the ASCA professional support line on 1300 657 380, 9am-5pm Monday-Sunday. -ENDS- Media Contact: Laura Douglas laura@launchgroup.com.au laura@launchgroup.com.au> 02 9492 1002 / 0452 505 859 About ASCA: www.asca.org.au ASCA is the leading national organisation supporting the estimated five million Australian adults who are survivors of childhood trauma, including abuse. ASCA provides hope, optimism and pathways to recovery for adults. At the forefront of pioneering trauma informed policy, practice and research, ASCA has been instrumental in supporting the work of the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and people engaging with it. This includes the training of key workers, practitioners and media. In 2012 ASCA released Practice Guidelines for Treatment of Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care and Service Delivery, a global first in setting the standards for clinical and organisational practice. ASCA is a founding member of the national Trauma Informed Care and Practice Advisory Working Group. Formed in 1995, ASCA provides a range of services including professional phone support with trauma informed counsellors, a referral database, advocacy, research, workshops for survivors and their supporters, along with education, training and professional development for workers, organisations and health care professionals. Help and support is available from the ASCA professional support line on 1300 657 380, 9am-5pm Monday-Sunday. Complex trauma: As defined by ASCA, complex trauma includes sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, witnessing and experiencing the impacts of family and community violence and a range of other adverse events. _____ _____ [i] Access Economics Report 2007, page 9. [ii] The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study [iii] Modelling the Relationship between Child Abuse and Long-Term Health Care Costs and Wellbeing: Results from an Australian Community-Based Survey* REBECCA REEVE and KEES VAN GOOL; ECONOMIC RECORD, VOL. 89, NO. 286, SEPTEMBER, 2013, 300-318 [iv] Draper, B., Pfaff, J., Pirkis, J., Snowdon, J., Lautenschlager, N., Wilson, I., et al. (2007). Long-Term Effects of Childhood Abuse on the Quality of Life and Health of Older People: Results from the Depression and early prevention of Suicide in General Practice Project. JAGS [v] Harper, K., Stalker, C. A., Palmer, S., & Gadbois, S. (2007). Adults traumatized by child abuse: what survivors need from community-based mental health professionals. Journal of Mental Health 1-14. [vi] Childhood Experience Study (Center for Disease Control and Kaiser Permanente, see www.ACEstudy.org) and The Damaging Consequences of Violence and Trauma (see www.NASMHPD.ORG). Chart created by Ann Jennings, PhD. www.annafoundation.org [vii] Estimated from a range of key sources