Karen Martin

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Karen Martin


Room A233a , Building A

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Professor Karen Martin’s research explores trauma-informed practice and how its application can transform the education experience for school students.

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"What is the impact of my research?"

Karen Martin - Social Sciences Week 2022

“Trauma and adversity can have such a negative impact on children, and increasingly research is highlighting the extent of this harm. It is imperative we uphold the rights of the child, and this includes ensuring that their voices are heard.”

Professor Martin is a Professor in Trauma-Informed Pedagogy in the School of Education. In addition to promoting awareness of the impact of trauma, her areas of expertise include child and adolescent mental health, psychological and post-traumatic distress, and family and domestic violence.

“Students have reported that school can be a place of high stress and negative experiences. This shapes how children feel, learn, and respond to others. For children already highly stressed from trauma, this can lead to challenging behaviours, disengagement, retraumatisation and other long-lasting negative outcomes.”

“A strong relationship and engagement with school can assist with reducing the impact that adversity and trauma can have on children and adolescents. Children have told us that school can be a place of enjoyment and comfort and identified the ways in which schools support them.”

Prior to her role at the University of Tasmania, Professor Martin was a teaching and research academic within the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Western Australia. In 2015, Karen founded the Western Australian Trauma-informed and Restorative Schools Collaboration (TARSC), which brought together a group of academics and practitioners to increase education sector awareness about the impact of trauma on children and adolescents and how to respond in a way that changes trajectories for students.

“I started working with Australian school psychologists, teachers, leaders, and other experts around the world to see how we could translate research into practice. We wanted to increase capacity, knowledge, and skills of school staff to enable them to work well with children displaying more challenging behaviours.'

Professor Martin’s initiative, the Thoughtful Schools Program, provides schools with a framework and resources to embed trauma-informed practice into their policies and practices. The program has garnered significant funding from the State Government, charitable and private organisations, and is now being piloted in schools across Western Australia. With positive results emerging, the team are hoping to expand the program and research Australia-wide, and then internationally.

“I can sense deep compassion and care within the Tasmanian community. I have no doubt that by increasing understanding about the impacts for children from trauma and stress, school environments here will be as positive, supportive, and enjoyable as possible. This will be life-changing for many children.'

Professor Martin’s research passions are ingrained in her desire to support the next generation, particularly those most vulnerable. She has a strong commitment to ensuring that policymakers, leaders, and practitioners question current policies and strategies which could be detrimental to children. She is dedicated to proposing alternative evidence-based strategies which are likely to lead to more positive outcomes for children.

“When responding to children in any context, we must look at their needs not their behaviours. If we understand their needs at that time, and respond to that, any impact we have will be so much more powerful.”

“By creating supportive and nurturing environments for children we can help reduce their distress and reduce risk of negative outcomes such as mental health problems, suicidality, and justice system involvement. For the first time, we can envisage a whole generation of children who are so supported by their community that inter-generational trauma is replaced with intergenerational thriving.”

Professor Karen Martin is a Professor in Trauma-Informed Pedagogy in the School of Education.

Professor Karen Martin is a nationally recognised expert in trauma-informed practice. Her work focusses on ensuring that the rights of children are upheld including that their voices are heard. Karen has experience in working with schools and the education sector to help them support, engage, and improve outcomes for children and young people who have been impacted by adversity and trauma. Karen will be working to integrate trauma-informed pedagogy into university courses and schools in Tasmania. In addition, she will continue to complete internationally relevant research.  With experience in research spanning over 20 years,  Karen has worked across diverse settings using various methods,  but she always ensures that she works closely with stakeholders and consumers to ensure project relevance. Utilising an innovative multi-method research design, and in consultation with experts and support from colleagues and research students, Karen developed the Thoughtful Schools Program. This is an evidence-based and expert-informed toolkit to assist schools to become trauma-informed. Karen (who is also an adjunct at UWA) is currently leading a research team to implement and pilot test this toolkit in Western Australia schools. With positive results emerging, the team are planning to expand this work Australia-wide. Karen and her team acknowledge and thank the many funders of their research and teaching including the Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, Telethon Chanel 7 Trust, UWA, UTAS, and the WA State Government.


As a Professor of Trauma-Informed Pedagogy, Karen aims to improve the environment and wellbeing of vulnerable and disadvantaged populations through her work. Her passion is in promoting trauma-informed and restorative practices in schools to improve outcomes for children and young people. Her vision is that all children are given the ongoing opportunity to learn and flourish within a heathy and supportive school environment.

Prior to her role at the University of Tasmania, Karen was a teaching and research academic within the School of Population and Global Health at the University of Western Australia. Karen has diverse and extensive experience in research, spending the past 20 years undertaking research and evaluation within schools, prisons and community settings. Her research experience also ranges across various health fields, including; trauma and adversity, psychological and post-traumatic distress, domestic violence, mental health, and loneliness. Previously, Karen has also completed research in physical activity, screen use, overweight and obesity and palliative care. Karen has been awarded significant grants and tenders by governments, not for profits and private agencies to assist with implementation and evaluation of projects which focus on supporting vulnerable populations.

In 2015 Karen founded the Western Australian Trauma-informed and Restorative Schools Collaboration (TARSC). TARSC bought together a group multidisciplinary academics and practitioners in an effort to increase education sector awareness about the impact of trauma on children and adolescents. In 2019, Karen led the development of a framework for schools to assist them to become trauma-informed, subsequently called the Thoughtful Schools Program. With significant funding received from government, not for profit and a private agency, Karen and her research team are evaluating the implementation of this program in WA metropolitan and regionals schools.

In addition to her research, Karen has extensive teaching experience and offers strong support to tertiary student education. Karen utilises interactive and engaging teaching strategies, with a strong focus on capacity building to support the next generation of educators and researchers.

Career summary


Degree Thesis titleUniversityCountryAwarded
PhD School, classroom, and child-level correlates of children’s class-time and recess physical activity The University of Western Australia Australia 2010
BSc. (Major; Anatomy and Human Biology)  The University of Western Australia Australia 1993


Professional practice

Current professional memberships:

  • Australian Research Alliance for Children and youth (ARACY)
  • Academics Stand Against Poverty
  • Refugee Health Network of Australia
  • Oxfam, Ordinary Member
  • Alliance for the Prevention of Mental Disorders
  • Australian Health Promotion Association
  • School Mental Health International Leadership Exchange

Administrative expertise

  • Managing large research/evaluation projects
  • Developing funding application
  • Completing ethics applications


Teaching expertise

Experience in Unit Development, Unit Coordination, Lecturing and Tutoring

Postgraduate teaching:

  • Disease Prevention and control
  • Foundations in Public Health
  • Health Promotion
  • Public Health Practicum
  • Dissertation Coordination

Undergraduate teaching:

  • Health Research Design and Methods
  • Communication and Project Planning
  • Epidemiology and Biostatistics
  • Honours Coordination

Research Appointments

  • Expert Reference Group Member; Mental Health Commission, Think Mental Health - Activities to promote flourishing among young people
  • Expert member; Mental Health Commission Suicide Coordinator Advisory Group, Naemi
  • Fellow, Public Policy Institute, UWA

Research Invitations

  • Martin K, Berger E, Trauma informed practice in schools Webinar, Education Hub, 2022
  • Martin K, Berger E, Trauma informed practice in schools Webinar, Teach Starter, 2022
  • Martin K, Trauma-informed Practice in Schools, the Australian Teacher Educators Association, National Online Seminar Series 2020
  • Martin K, Becoming Trauma-Informed; Shifting Policy and Practice WA Rural and Remote Mental Health Conference Albany Oct 2019 (presentation noted as a conference highlight in evaluation feedback by some delegates)
  • Martin K, The ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of Trauma-informed Practice. Independent Primary School Heads of Australia (IPSHA) Regional Conference Bunker Bay, Jun 2019
  • Martin K, Wellbeing is not a program, it is a culture’South East School Network Health and Wellbeing Symposium Canning Vale, Aug 2016
  • Martin K, Lonely but not alone; how teachers can assist lonely students at school; Positive Schools Conferences (‘Roadshow’); Brisbane, Perth, Melbourne and Sydney, Aust  May and June 2016

View more on Professor Karen Martin in WARP


Karen is a leading expert in trauma-informed practice and school-based research. She has over 20 years’ experience conducting evaluation and research with vulnerable populations in a diverse range of settings including prisons, schools, community settings and hospitals

Areas of research expertise:

  • Trauma-informed practice
  • Childhood adversity
  • Research methods
  • Psychological distress
  • Trauma
  • Trauma and adversity
  • Psychological and post-traumatic distress
  • Child and adolescent wellbeing
  • Mental health
  • Family and domestic violence


  • Teaching Excellence; Outstanding contribution to student learning nomination 2020 Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, UWA
  • Mentor Award 2019 Public Health Association –WA Branch
  • Excellence and Innovation in Public Health Team Research 2018 National Council of Academic Public Health Institutions Australasia (CAPHIA) Award  
  • Teaching Excellence; Outstanding contribution to student learning nomination 2018 Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, UWA
  • UWA Student Guild’s Student Choice Awards 2017 UWA
  • Teaching Excellence; Outstanding contribution to student learning nomination 2017 Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, UWA
  • Teaching Excellence in Research Supervision Award Nomination Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, UWA  2018, UWA  2015, 2017 (multiple nominations each year, one year 7 nominations)
  • Fay Gale Fellowship UWA (Travel to the US & Canada; Exploring trauma-informed, restorative and compassion-based practice within schools) University of Western Australia, 2014
  • Healthway Postdoctoral Fellowship (Mental health, delinquent and health behaviours in vulnerable youth populations), 2013- 16
  • Jan Watt Memorial Prize for Research Field Work Excellence, The University of Western Australia; 2011
  • Healthway PhD Scholarship, (Correlates of Physical Activity in the School Environment) 2004-7

Current projects

The Thoughtful Schools Program

The Thoughtful Schools Program is a toolkit for schools seeking to be trauma-informed. This early intervention program has been developed by the Thoughtful Schools Research Team, led by Professor Karen Martin. By collecting, reviewing and combining resources with expert knowledge over the last five years we have been able to develop a unique program for education sectors. The Thoughtful Schools Program is based upon the International Trauma-Informed Practice Principles, also created by Professor Karen Martin with support from colleagues and research students. Based on current best-evidence this program seeks to provide schools with valuable strategies to assist them on their path to becoming trauma-informed. By leveraging sector resources and local support networks, this innovative intervention is designed to be up scalable and sustainable. The Thoughtful Schools Program is currently being evaluated in 12 schools across WA, with the hope of expanding this Australia-wide in the future.

Fields of Research

  • Curriculum and pedagogy (390199)
  • Child and adolescent development (520101)
  • Inclusive education (390407)
  • Sociology of family and relationships (441009)
  • Cardiology (incl. cardiovascular diseases) (320101)
  • Health systems (420311)
  • Learning sciences (390409)
  • Patient safety (420317)
  • Mental health services (420313)
  • Early childhood education (390302)
  • Health and community services (420305)

Research Objectives

  • Teaching and curriculum (160399)
  • Inclusive education (160203)
  • Early childhood education (160101)
  • Mental health services (200305)
  • Expanding knowledge in the health sciences (280112)
  • Mental health (200409)
  • Health education and promotion (200203)
  • Adolescent health (200501)
  • Expanding knowledge in psychology (280121)
  • Exercise (130601)
  • Health status (incl. wellbeing) (200407)


Professor Martin has published in a wide range of academic journals throughout her career. Recently she has written multiple articles for The Conversation about the impact of trauma in schools in an effort to raise awareness of this issue in the education sector.

Total publications


Journal Article

(16 outputs)
2022McCormack G, Giles-Corti B, Lange A, Smith T, Martin K, et al., 'An update of recent evidence of the relationship between objective and self-report measures of the physical environment and physical activity behaviours', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 7, (1) pp. 81-92. ISSN 1440-2440 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/S1440-2440(04)80282-2 [eCite] [Details]


2022McMahon J, McGannon KR, Zehntner C, Werbicki L, Stephenson E, et al., 'Trauma-informed abuse education in sport: engaging athlete abuse survivors as educators and facilitating a community of care', Sport Education and Society pp. 1-14. ISSN 1357-3322 (2022) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/13573322.2022.2096586 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: McMahon J; Zehntner C; Stephenson E


2015Houghton S, Hunter SC, Rosenberg M, Wood L, Zadow C, et al., 'Virtually impossible: limiting Australian children and adolescents daily screen based media use', BMC Public Health, 15, (5) Article 5. ISSN 1471-2458 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-15-5 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 86Web of Science - 82


2015Martin K, Wood L, Christian H, Trapp GSA, 'Not just 'a walking the dog': dog walking and pet play and their association with recommended physical activity among adolescents', Observational Studies, 29, (6) pp. 353-356. ISSN 2767-3324 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.4278/ajhp.130522-ARB-262 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 15Web of Science - 17


2015Wood L, Martin K, Christian H, Nathan A, Lauritsen C, et al., 'The pet factor - companion animals as a conduit for getting to know people, friendship formation and social support', PLOS One, 10, (4) pp. 1-17. ISSN 1932-6203 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0122085 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 141Web of Science - 127


2014Houghton S, Hattie J, Wood L, Carroll A, Martin K, et al., 'Conceptualising loneliness in adolescents: development and validation of a self-report instrument', Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 45 pp. 604-616. ISSN 0009-398X (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s10578-013-0429-z [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 29Web of Science - 27


2014Martin K, Bremner A, Salmon J, Rosenberg M, Giles-Corti B, 'Physical, policy, and sociocultural characteristics of the primary school environment are positively associated with children's physical activity during class time', Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 11, (3) pp. 553-563. ISSN 1543-3080 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1123/jpah.2011-0443 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 8Web of Science - 8


2014Martin K, Wood LJ, Houghton S, Carroll A, Hattie J, ''I don't have the best life': a qualitative exploration of adolescent loneliness', Journal of Child & Adolescent Behavior, 2, (5) pp. 1-7. ISSN 2375-4494 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.4172/2375-4494.1000169 [eCite] [Details]


2014Wood L, Carter M, Martin K, 'Dispelling stereotypes Skate Parks as a setting for pro-social behavior among young people', Current Urban Studies, 2, (1) pp. 62-73. ISSN 2328-4900 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.4236/cus.2014.21007 [eCite] [Details]


2012Martin K, Bremner A, Salmon J, Rosenberg M, Giles-Corti B, 'School and individual-level characteristics are associated with children's moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity during school recess', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 36, (5) pp. 469-477. ISSN 1326-0200 (2012) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2012.00914.x [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 19Web of Science - 15


2012Pereira G, Foster S, Martin K, Christian H, Boruff BJ, et al., 'The association between neighborhood greenness and cardiovascular disease: an observational study', BMC Public Health, 12 Article 466. ISSN 1471-2458 (2012) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-466 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 144Web of Science - 147


2011Trapp G, Giles-Corti B, Martin K, Timperio A, Villanueva K, 'Conducting field research in a primary school setting: methodological considerations for maximizing response rates, data quality and quantity', Health Education Journal, 71, (5) pp. 590-596. ISSN 0017-8969 (2011) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/0017896911411766 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 6Web of Science - 4


2005Martin K, Giles-Corti B, Rosenberg M, McCaul K, Salmon J, '249 Active schools = active kids?', Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 8, (1) ISSN 1440-2440 (2005) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/S1440-2440(17)30745-4 [eCite] [Details]


2001Kristjanson LJ, McPhee I, Pickstock S, Wilson D, Oldham L, et al., 'Palliative care nurses' perceptions of good and bad deaths and care expectations: a qualitative analysis', International Journal of Palliative Nursing, 7, (3) pp. 129-139. ISSN 2052-286X (2001) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.12968/ijpn.2001.7.3.8911. [eCite] [Details]


1997Dean A, Martin K, Yuen K, Oldham L, Ewence K, 'Morphine and clonazepam combinations in the Springfusor 30 infusion device', Palliative Medicine: A Multiprofessional Journal, 11, (3) ISSN 0269-2163 (1997) [Refereed Article]

[eCite] [Details]

1997Porock D, Martin K, Oldham L, Underwood R, 'Relocation stress syndrome: the case of palliative care patients', Palliative Medicine: A Multiprofessional Journal, 11, (6) pp. 444-450. ISSN 0269-2163 (1997) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1177/026921639701100603 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 9Web of Science - 8


Chapter in Book

(1 outputs)
2014Martin K, Wood LJ, ''We Live Here Too'...What Makes a Child-Friendly Neighborhood?', Wellbeing and the Environment, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, E Burton, R Cooper and CL Cooper (ed), United Kingdom, pp. 1-38. ISBN 9781118608371 (2014) [Research Book Chapter]

DOI: 10.1002/9781118539415.wbwell061 [eCite] [Details]


Conference Publication

(3 outputs)
2022Wood L, Martin K, Christian H, Carter M, ''But that's just for little kids': meeting the needs of older children and adolescents in parks and playgrounds', Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference on Research into Inclusive Outdoor Environments for All, 27-29 June 2011, University of Edinburgh, pp. 1 piece- abstract. (2022) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2016Martin K, Wood L, 'Drumming up support - reducing post-traumatic stress symptoms and dysfunctional behaviour through group drumming', Proceedings of the 2016 International Childhood Trauma Conference, 06 June 2016 - 10 June 2016, Melbourne, Vic, pp. 1-29. (2016) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

2011Martin K, ''All they need is grass': developing physical environments to support children's physical activity', Proceedings of the 2011 International Conference on Research into Inclusive Outdoor Environments for All, 27-29 June 2011, University of Edinburgh, pp. 1 piece- abstract. (2011) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Professor Martin has been chief investigator on numerous successful grants, and in total has been awarded over $4 million in research grants/tenders since 2004. Her work in trauma-informed practice has attracted significant seed funding from Government and charitable organisations, with the Thoughtful Schools Program now being piloted in schools across WA.

Research Supervision

Karen has a strong commitment to supervising, mentoring and providing support for students. She has supervised a wide range of Honours, Masters and PhD students to successful completion. Karen has previously supervised research topics including; trauma-informed practice, youth mental health, domestic violence, and homelessness and housing insecurity.




PhDExploring the system-level and service delivery needs of students impacted by developmental trauma2022