My Early Relational Trauma Informed Learning (MERTIL)

Maternal Child Health Nurse Informed Learning platform




The purpose of the MERTIL initiative is to provide high quality on-line training into the Maternal Child Health Nursing (MCHN) system to further equip an extraordinary workforce with core attachment-based skills and resources to deal with complex relational trauma commonly encountered in high risk vulnerable family settings.

Funding Source

Department of Education and Training ($840,000) over 1 year, commencing in 2018

Project Directors

Professor Jenn McIntosh
Professor Louise Newman


For all enquiries relating to MERTIL please email

Project Purpose

The purpose of this training, at all levels of program delivery, is to provide the MCH Nurse Sector with practical opportunities to extend skills and enhance confidence for all nurses to identify, assess and respond to early relational trauma within the parent-child dyads and families they support.

MERTIL Training

The training involves 8 online modules and supporting resources, delivered via the MERTIL platform, webinars and face-to-face skills-training workshops.

The MERTIL platform

MERTIL is the home for the program’s online training, resources and evaluation materials. In addition to the modules detailed below, the site will house and provide:

  • Registration, access and tracking your progress through MERTIL
  • A monitored chat room/question and answer notice board
  • Webinars to follow up on topics
  • Tools to create your own referral directory
  • MERTIL’s Library, with a trove of reading, listening and intervention resources, including specific resources for “The Line”

Core Online Learning Modules (8 x 30-90 minutes each)

  1. Infant trauma: a relational, developmental and humanising framework
  2. Attachment development and the transmission of caregiving trauma
  3. Recognising caregiver trauma
  4. Recognising neonate and infant trauma
  5. Recognising pre-school trauma
  6. Principles to guide the shared recognition of risk
  7.  Responding to trauma on the MCHN frontlines: Part 1
  8.  Responding to trauma on the MCHN frontlines: Part 2



Progress Webinars

We will offer two webinars in July and August, based on questions arising from the field as modules are completed, and an online Q&A notice board for interaction with MERTIL clinical trainers.

Face to face skills training

Once MCHNs have completed the online modules, they will be able to register for a full-day skills training workshops, delivered in metropolitan and regional locations across August-September 2018. Workshop content will include: effective trauma based conversations, using video and demonstration to illustrate key points, with supported practice of clinical skills, individual planning for next steps in implementing trauma focused practices, and guides to using MERTIL for expanded learning and consolidation.

Follow up Case Consultation Webinars

Following the workshops, two x 2 hour webinars will be given, to allow for discussion of cases. These will be facilitated by Professors Newman and McIntosh. We will invite two practitioners to present complex trauma cases for consultation. The webinar will be open to all nurses.

MERTIL evaluation and research

A learning outcomes evaluation will be embedded into the MERTIL platform, to track learner outcomes. A wider independent evaluation will study practitioner confidence in utilising MERTIL learning, practice change, outstanding needs and implications for policy and practice. Focus groups will also occur over the program, to enrich the evaluation. Two qualitative studies will be completed by Deakin University late in 2018 with a sample of nurses and parents, to gauge subjective experiences of trauma informed conversations, and outcomes for all concerned.