The Sanctuary model emerged in the 1980s from the work of psychiatrist Dr. Sandra Bloom, social worker Joe Foderaro and nurse practitioner Ruth Ann Ryan.


Their original work with adults at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Philadelphia has been adapted for use in multiple types of human service settings, including: residential care, schools, youth justice, family violence, homeless services, medical treatment settings, drug and alcohol treatment and other community based programs.

The Sanctuary founders were determined to create a service that focused on organisational health as a means to client recovery. They began to teach what they had learned to other organisations and, based on the success of the model, The Sanctuary Institute founded in New York now offers training and support to a network of over 275 organisations around the world, including a growing number of Australian agencies. The pioneering work of Dr. Sandra Bloom and The Sanctuary model was recently acknowledged in Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Bruce Perry's 2021 book “What happened to you?”

The MacKillop Institute is the only licensed provider of The Sanctuary model in Australia. We have committed to ongoing growth and change to The Sanctuary model to better reflect the needs of our First Nations people, including ongoing enhancements and a focus on cultural safety. We continue working hard to ensure that our frameworks are culturally safe for all staff, children and families and we are committed to ensuring best practice is achieved and maintained.

The Sanctuary model continues to grow and change as the needs of constituents evolve and knowledge in the field of trauma develops. Programs and services are constantly being adapted to meet the growing needs of organisations who seek to transform the care they provide to their clients. The model's roots and founders are honoured while new and innovative practices and applications are nurtured to serve an ever-changing world.

"The title [of Dr. Bruce Perry and Oprah Winfrey's new book] What happened to you? signifies a shift in perspective that honours the power of the past to shape our current functioning. The phrase originated in the pioneering work group of Dr. Sandra Bloom, developer of the Sanctuary Model."

Dr. Bruce Perry in What happened to you? Conversations on trauma, resilience, and healing, 2021 on the origins of the book.