The Sanctuary Model: safe communities for people with trauma

As part of our commitment to continual improvement, Pathfinders has partnered with MacKillop Family Services and the Sanctuary Institute of Australia to adopt the Sanctuary Model — a blueprint for building safe communities to help people heal from trauma.

We’d like to thank the team at MacKillop Family Services for their help on our journey to implement the Sanctuary Model at Pathfinders.

What is the Sanctuary Model?

The Sanctuary Model is a trauma-informed, trauma-responsive, evidence-based, whole of culture approach for creating, or changing, an organisation’s culture.

The Sanctuary Model focuses on safety and wellbeing and helping communities understand how past adversity can continue to impact on people throughout their lives. It acknowledges that while trauma significantly impacts on those who experience it, trauma also affects staff and organisations who work with those experiencing trauma.

Developed in the US, by Dr Sandra Bloom in the early 1980s, the Sanctuary Model is based on evidence that people in more intensive care settings experience traumatic events. The model focuses on supporting people in social, health and community care as a key way to develop their sense of safety and wellbeing.A number of interactive tools are used as part of the program.

Why the Sanctuary Model?

The objective of the Sanctuary Model is to provide cohesive, innovative and creative tools to help heal psychological and social traumatic experiencesand adversity, including racism and poverty.

As an organisational cultural intervention, the Sanctuary Model is designed to develop structures, processes and behaviours for staff, clients and the community.

This model will define how we’ll:

  • deliver services
  • define our corporate culture
  • develop management practices

Guiding our culture, while promoting safety and wellbeing

The Sanctuary Model will guide our culture and the way we organise ourselves. It will help our services and programs align to supporting safety and wellbeing. As part of adopting the Sanctuary Model, we’re currently in the process of reviewing our:

  • corporate processes
  • organisational structures
  • workplace behaviours

What this means for Pathfinders staff, partners and projects

Our current review will help us to meet our objectives for fostering an environment of safety and wellbeingat an organisational client and partner level. We’ll continue to deliver exceptional services and social support to our communities.

Do you have a question about the Sanctuary Model?

If you’d like to learn more about our current review and plans, please get in touch with us at If you have any feedback about a recent experience with Pathfinders, please contact us.

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