At the outset of my social work career and during my studies to become a social worker, I volunteered at Wodonga Youth Services. I am proud of having developed an after school program called Dropzone which was aimed at providing young people with an opportunity to participate in fun activities after school and build friendships as well as have access to education on important issues relating to them.
I then gained valuable skills at YES Youth and Family Services in Albury working with children and young people who had been exposed to abuse and neglect, who were removed from their family and were residing in out of home care. I worked as a mentor and spent time apart from study empowering young people to gain self confidence and deal with difficult circumstances which were often beyond their control.
Upon completion of my social work degree I entered the arena of statutory child protection working with children, young people and their families to increase safety and strengthen home environments. This work was extremely challenging and very rewarding. I became well skilled in psycho-social assessment, risk assessment, case planning and intervention. I developed strong interpersonal skills working with families experiencing very adverse circumstances. At times there were difficult decisions to make in relation to child removal. There was a strong emphasis on working to increase parenting capacity and safety in the home and on referring to necessary supports to help address often complex and multi-dimensional issues. I trained in interviewing children and young people who had been likely exposed to sexual abuse. I enjoyed mentoring colleagues and later lead teams of dedicated workers in responding to urgent or priority reports and implementing brief interventions and also medium to longer-term interventions. I have worked in both the Victorian and New South Wales child protection systems.
Following a positive career in child protection I progressed further into the field of mental health and became a support facilitator in the Partners In Recovery program which supported people experiencing severe and persistent mental illness with complex needs to gain improved access to supports and services. I completed comprehensive psycho-social assessments, encouraged people to identify recovery goals and helped them to work towards their goals through facilitating recovery action plan meetings aimed at bringing everyone together to work collaboratively. I strongly involved the person's significant others in the planning process and coordinated supports to foster a more streamlined easier to navigate support system around the person with the needs. The work entailed bringing the person into the center of the planning. I naturally loved this role as I was able to support, advocate and educate within a strong person-centred and strengths-based framework. I enjoyed being involved in a bigger initiative of working to break down service barriers that people with severe and persistent mental illness can be up against when it comes to navigating systems and accessing the supports they need.
I have turned full circle and back to the purist social worker in me and have been in the role of mental health clinician which I thoroughly enjoy. I have gained additional skills over time to include a clinical perspective when working with people in hard to reach rural and remote communities providing counseling that involves risk assessment, safety planning, and delivering a range of therapeutic techniques to help people build the skills to manage mental illness. I work with individuals, couples, children and adolescents to help them manage their mental wellness. I am continually building my skills to deliver focused psychological strategies and a range of other treatments in my counseling role. I have completed levels 1 and 2 training in Gottman Method Couples Therapy and use this method in my work with couples.
Bachelor of Social Work, 2004, La Trobe University, Wodonga, Victoria.
Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, 2017, Australian Association of Social Workers.