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The LINKS Trauma Healing Service (LINKS) delivers trauma-focused, evidence-based support to children in out-of-home care.

The service is made up of two teams, based at Penrith and Newcastle community service centres.

The specialist teams include:

  • mental health clinicians
  • Aboriginal mental health clinician
  • occupational therapist
  • speech pathologist
  • psychiatrist
  • customer service officer

These short stories demonstrate how LINKS effectively engages with families.

Luke's story: Understanding trauma to strengthen a family bond (PDF, 344.71 KB)

Emily's story: Breaking the cycle of trauma symptoms with LINKS (PDF, 340.85 KB)

How to make a referral

To be eligible for referral, a child must be:

  • 16 and under
  • able to travel to Penrith or Newcastle for a minimum of weekly appointments

And be experiencing one of the following:

  • two or more placements in the past six months
  • an increased need for respite care over the past 12 months

The LINKS teams partner with children and families to improve their  psychological wellbeing, responses to trauma and ultimately children’s social and emotional health.

Fill out the LINKS referral form (PDF, 1977.21 KB) and send to the Central Access Unit mailbox:

You can direct your enquiries to:

LINKS Trauma Healing Services (LINKS) Program Evaluation

The Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) commissioned Parenting Research Centre (PRC) and their partners, the Cultural and Indigenous Research Centre (CIRCA) and Deakin Health Economics, to conduct an independent evaluation of the LINKS program comprising process, outcomes and economic components.

The purpose of this evaluation was to examine how successful LINKS has been at improving client outcomes, as well as understanding the experiences of clients and carers exposed to the program.

This was achieved by examining how LINKS has been implemented and funded since October 2017, and exploring data related to key outcomes, including child/young person placement stability and wellbeing, and caregiver wellbeing.

There are three Evaluation reports which each contain recommendations to improve the delivery of the program and data collection. LINKS has successfully adopted these recommendation through a process of action plans and implementation reports which can also be found through the links below:

A summary of the evaluation and findings, is available in a slide presentation provided by Parenting Research Centre (PRC)

The Evaluation finds LINKS is effective

LINKS has enabled children with complex needs to find or maintain a stable family-based placement through therapeutic treatment of trauma. LINKS has also contributed to a decrease in the most intensive care arrangements and presents a value-for-money investment.

  1. There is highly significant evidence that LINKS improves:
    • Placement stability compared to children in a matched sample; and
    • Psychological wellbeing of children, especially for those who completed treatment.
  2. There is statistically significant evidence that LINKS:
    • Reduces post-traumatic stress symptoms for children;
    • Reduces school suspensions and court appearances for children who completed the program compared with those who exited early;
    • Reduces risk of significant harm (ROSH) reports for children who completed the program compared with children within the matched sample; and
    • Improves carers’ sense of wellbeing.

LINKS outcomes are sustainable

Limited follow up-data from children and young people receiving therapeutic services from LINKS, indicates stable or improving outcomes at six and 12 months after completing the program.

Evaluation finds LINKS is cost effective in the longer term

The Evaluation concludes that LINKS is likely to be cost effective by reducing costs to Government associated with a reduction in the number of placement changes and risk of significant harm (ROSH) reports (estimated as a saving of $6,080 per ROSH report or placement change).

More information

About LINKS (printable fact sheet)

Frequently Asked Questions