Dr Judith Howard


Trauma Aware Education


Australia's leading voice for Trauma Aware Education

Dr Judith Howard is an Associate Professor from the Education Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology. She has an extensive career history with schooling in Queensland. She has worked as a teacher, guidance officer and behaviour support specialist and has held both regional and state positions overseeing work in the area of student behaviour support.  Dr Howard’s work has a keen focus on the concerns of children and young people who have experienced trauma. She promotes a neuroscience-informed approach - to which she believes every educator and worker in every school and early childhood service needs access. Dr Howard oversees pre-service and post-graduate teacher education in trauma-aware education, has led development of the “National Guidelines in Trauma-Aware Education”, is the author of the popular book: “Distressed or Deliberately Defiant: Managing Challenging Student Behaviour due to Trauma and Disorganised Attachment”, is the principal chair of the biennial “Trauma-Aware Schooling” conference and has developed online courses that are reaching thousands nationally and internationally.

In 2013 she published the highly acclaimed book Distressed or Deliberately Defiant? She continues to work hard to research, publish and speak in the area of an informed, neuroscience-based approach to student management and support - to which she believes every educator in every school in Australia and New Zealand needs to access.

Inspirational and charismatic, Judith’s vast knowledge in this area, combined with her interactive and engaging teaching style and thoughtful use of case study material has made her one of Compass’s most requested trainers.



"As a school principal, I found this professional learning opportunity invaluable.  It provided great insights into why some of our most challenging students behave in the way they do and why some of our traditional behaviour management systems have so little impact on these behaviours.  It also provided some useful strategies and resources to support these students and I highly recommend this workshop for school leadership teams, alongside their teacher and student wellbeing officers."

Principal, State School

"Dr Howard’s presentation not only provides an insight into the impacts of trauma and abuse through an easy to understand synopsis of theoretical and physiological perspectives, it also equips participants  with hands-on, practical strategies to put in place in front-line settings."

Project Officer, Education Support

"I unreservedly recommend Dr Howard's seminar to all school and community agency personnel who work with students presenting with challenging behaviours and a history of childhood trauma. The seminar content has been thoroughly researched and is based on the most recent literature (including neuroscience). The seminars major contribution is taking that research and presenting intervention models and strategies that work extremely well with this difficult client group. School and community agency workers whom I have personally recommended to undertake this training, have consistently reported how it has contributed positively to student outcomes and their own professional practice and wellbeing."

Guidance Officer, Intensive Behaviour Support


TRAUMA AWARE EDUCATION: Managing Student Behaviour due to Trauma and Attachment Difficulties

Grounded in attachment theory and neuroscience research, this seminar will explore why these children and young people often defy rules and authority, can sabotage even the most supportive of relationships and can continually put themselves at-risk. Participants will explore the reasons why students who have experienced trauma and a poor attachment to their primary caregiver/s in early childhood – behave in the way they do in primary and secondary school.  They will also examine why our “usual” or ”traditional” behaviour management systems have so little impact on these behaviours (or even sometimes make things worse)! Helpful behaviour support approaches, strategies, and resources will be provided and discussed.

This is a “must do training” for all school personnel who work with students with extreme and challenging behaviour, who have suffered trauma and maltreatment. Professionals who receive referrals from schools to assist with difficult students, will also find this training valuable in understanding the challenges teachers/schools face and the effective strategies that can be used to manage behaviour and support out of school therapeutic interventions. Learn more here

This topic can be delivered as a keynote or workshop (one day), and can be tailored to your audience. 


"At times, schools enroll students who have lived through very traumatic life circumstances (including abuse, neglect, violence) and, as a result, present with very challenging behavior at school.  These students may need significant help with managing relationships within the school setting and with their emotional self-regulation.  Growing research and evidence is confirming that a trauma-informed response (underpinned by neuroscience) can minimize serious behaviour concerns and can enhance student and staff resilience and well-being. This approach is most effective when teams (rather than individuals) are trained to lead the development of  trauma-informed frameworks that are appropriate for their particular school contexts. 

Thus, it is highly recommended that a team from your school attend this training day.  Ideally this team will include school leadership, student support and teaching personnel who are keen to know why these students behave in the way they do, what can be done to address these concerns and how this information can be progressed as a school-wide approach." 

- Dr Judith Howard

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