Phil Ihme

Phil Ihme
  • Senior Director MH Services
    Northern Australia Primary Health Limited


Phil has been working in primary mental health for over 10 years. At the centre of and a driving force behind his work and philosophy has been the people and communities he serves, ensuring that people’s lives are improved through the service they access. Phil has led several clinical teams, developed programs, and in his current role provides strategic direction and executive management to Northern Australia Primary Health Limited (NAPHL) mental health programs.


Keynote 9
Trauma informed care—A youth specific model


Sunday 2 September  |  View program for more details


The experience of complex trauma and its impact on individuals, communities and society as a whole are considerable. Over the last two decades research has established a substantive evidence base in relation to trauma, documenting not only the evidence about the effects of trauma on individuals, severely impacting mental and physical health and wellbeing but the consequent effect on families and communities. At a system level, the cost of unrecognised and untreated complex trauma is enormous, this is not only in terms of reduced quality of life, life expectancy and lost productivity, but in significant increases in the utilisation of medical, correctional, social and mental health services.

Literature suggest that many young people who engage with public, private and community managed mental health and human services are trauma survivors. Australian experts estimate two thirds of Australian mental health consumers have a history of significant trauma and that their trauma experiences shape their engagement with the current system. Some identified traumas in which a child or adolescent is exposed to, are actual or threatened death, serious injury, physical abuse, exposure to domestic violence, or sexual violence.

Positively, evidence suggests a high possibility for recovery in the right treatment setting within an appropriately designed and implemented trauma informed service model. A basic but essential component of trauma informed care is that the interventions that are provided and the services from which they are delivered do not inflict any additional trauma on the person, or reactivate their past traumatic experiences . A trauma-informed response, therefore, must be coordinated across multiple service systems including but not limited to emergency and acute services, mental health care, primary healthcare, substance abuse treatment, and domestic violence.

In collaboration with the NQPHN, Northern Australia Primary Health Limited (NAPHL) has developed a trauma informed care program – Tern, which addresses the often complex needs of this particularly vulnerable group and provides adequate care within a primary health care setting. The Tern Program has the vision to provide a service delivery model of trauma informed care for young people whereby, the program leverages off existing services and relationships within the headspace service delivery model. The Tern program allows our most vulnerable young people to access intensive and long-term psychological treatment in a multidisciplinary team setting drawing on evidence based interventions for trauma treatment.

The commissioning, program development, and implementation process demonstrates:

  • the need for an adequately resourced trauma informed program such as Tern
  • the shift from activity based to outcome focused reporting
  • cross sector trauma informed care and collaboration
  • the journey of a Tern client.

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