Beyond Awareness: Culturally Safe Practices in our Sector Pilot Program Delivered!

Beyond Awareness: Culturally Safe Practices in our Sector Pilot Program Delivered!

We are excited to share highlights from WorkUP Queensland’s recent pilot program, Beyond Awareness: Culturally Safe Practice In Our Sector, which was delivered to a diverse group of participants across Brisbane. This groundbreaking initiative is designed to enhance culturally safe practice within our sector, and we are thrilled to bring you firsthand insights from one of our incredible participants in this edition of our newsletter. Their experience and reflections provide valuable perspectives on the program's impact and importance. 

For many working within the community sector, the values-based nature of the work, an awareness of social inequalities and injustices, and a sense of wanting to address these inequalities are core drivers for entering the industry. So, while acknowledging that most workers are well-intentioned it is important to firstly become aware of the white frameworks of thinking that largely govern every facet of “Australian” society (including social work), and to secondly move beyond awareness into culturally safe practice.  

The Beyond Awareness: Culturally Safe Practice in our Sector training program works to challenge ingrained knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and culture as an essential basis for culturally safe practice. Especially around how history, politics, and social contexts impact ongoing colonising practices.  I found the first two workshops “History” and “Communication” highly valuable in adjusting our thinking towards a framework that centres decolonising principles and the knowledge and experiences of First Nations peoples. This formed a strong basis for unpacking my own privilege and shifting focus towards a comprehension of another way of being. The dominance of Western thinking and structures does not equate to superiority, but rather, its dominance creates an environment where First Nations culture has less value. The basis of critical self-reflection, and of unpacking ingrained assumptions, biases, and values within a cultural context was essential in laying the groundwork of Workshops 3 & 4: “Working in culturally safe ways” and “Building relationships with the community”.

The focus on decolonising thought and practice was of particular interest to me as it is easy to exist in “autopilot”, relying on dominant narratives and not exercising active critical thought. The workshops emphasized valuing acts of resistance, which may be seen as deficits through a Western lens but highlight strength.  Amplifying acts of resistance, constantly naming both my visible and invisible privilege and power, supporting the right to parent, heal and seek justice in cultural ways, being clear with myself around who I want to be accountable to, and making the time to reach out and build relationships are just a couple of examples of ways in which I’d like to work towards decolonising practice.

I strongly believe that this training is essential for those working in the community sector, and particularly within SV, DFV and women's health and wellbeing. Existing within a Western framework comes with huge levels of cultural unsafety for First Nations women experiencing DFV.  This workshop explores how historical and contemporary experiences with police and social workers, racist stereotypes, and cultural devaluation create and maintain unsafety. It then guides culturally safe practices. Narrative therapy, emphasizing people as experts in their own lives, provided an excellent framework for a strengths-based, person-centred approach where no knowledge or "way" is superior. This training was thoughtful, thought-provoking, and important for everyone, regardless of their knowledge base.

Thank you, Emily, for your invaluable contributions! As we continue to evaluate and refine our program based on participant feedback, we are eagerly preparing for the next delivery of these transformative workshops. Stay tuned and keep your eyes open for upcoming opportunities to engage in Beyond Awareness: Culturally Safe Practice In Our Sector. Together, let’s commit to fostering a more inclusive and culturally safe environment for all.

Quick Tips for using the Workforce Capability Framework

Quick Tips for using the Workforce Capability Framework

Wow, the time goes quickly, the Workforce Capability Framework has been out in the sector for over 12 months! During this time the sector has been engaging with The Framework through information sessions and workshops, services have accessed individual support and helped us to create a suite of implementation resources. An action learning project is now underway, with participants sharing and learning from each other on how to bring The Framework to life in their services.

We would like to share with you some tips that you may find useful for using The Framework based on feedback we have heard from services. Remember, there is no right or wrong way. Services may prefer to use The Framework as the need arises or to delve right in on a change process to implement The Framework, either way is ok!

Job Interviews coming up?

  • Print off the overview of the capabilities and ask candidates while they are waiting for their interview to:
    • Pick two capabilities that they think are most important to the relevant role, and ask them to explain their thinking, OR
    • Pick two capabilities that they feel are their strengths and ask them to explain why.
  • Check out the Job Interview Question Bank to inspire you when creating interview questions.

Workforce Capabilities Overview

Need a team building activity?

  • Print the capabilities onto cards and then ask people to discuss areas where the team is particularly strong or good at and celebrate these successes/provide feedback to one another about contributions to the good practice identified.

Want to make staff meetings more engaging?

  • Invite staff to take turns presenting/sharing brief information about their role using the capabilities. This can help build connections and increase understanding across teams.

Preparing for your performance appraisal?

  • Complete the Self-assessment tool and reflect on your responses before the performance appraisal. The insights you gain will provide a great starting point for a conversation with your manager about your strengths, challenges, learning priorities, and career aspirations.

Thinking about stepping into a leadership role?

  • Explore the capabilities at the leadership level using either The Framework or the Self-Assessment tool. Identify the strengths you would bring to this role and those where you would feel extended and like to develop your capabilities.

Workforce Capability Framework Self-Assessment Tool

If you would like more ideas for using The Framework please check out the Implementation Tips on our website or contact us at

These tips were created with Rosalie from Precision Consulting as a part of the Capability Framework Implementation Series.

Safer Futures Symposium Wrap Up & Introducing Connecting Conversations: A resource for youth workers

Safer Futures Symposium Wrap Up & Introducing Connecting Conversations: A Resource for Youth Workers

Thank you to all who attended the Safer Futures Symposium on Thursday 21 March.

This full-day event, joint hosted by WorkUP and True Relationships & Reproductive Health brought together various sectors, aiming to address the challenges faced by vulnerable youth in their relationships. It was a day filled with networking, collaboration, and enlightening talks from esteemed speakers.

The symposium highlighted a cross-sector commitment to positively influencing young people's perspectives, breaking cycles of violence, and fostering positive outcomes for future generations. Attendees of the event included those identifying from the youth support sector, the specialist domestic and family violence, sexual violence and women’s wellbeing sectors, and other community and education sectors.

Trent Savill from Complex Care provided a snapshot of the Connecting Conversations training content with a focus on trauma-informed conversations with young people. It was a taster of the upcoming training that WorkUP is providing in the second half of 2024.

Connecting Conversations: A resource for youth workers

The Connecting Conversations resource for youth workers highlights trauma-informed information and practical strategies to be used in responding to the needs of young people, building upon the current knowledge and expertise base of Queensland youth workers. This resource provides opportunities for practitioners to explore respectful relationships concepts in their work with young people. It has been developed as a method of violence prevention and has a particular focus on understanding impacts of trauma and disrupted attachment on a young person and their ability to develop and maintain safe and positive relationships.

One-day workshops will be held across Queensland as opportunities to explore the resource through a trauma informed lens and build skills and confidence in facilitating conversations about healthy relationships with the young people you engage with.

The full-day workshop will unpack the Connecting Conversations resource and explore:

  • Self-reflection, relationship development and facilitation skills
  • Navigating the complex needs of young people (working with complex trauma and shallow intimacy barriers)
  • Tailoring conversations to individual needs
  • Practicing the facilitation of group sessions and casual conversations

Workshop dates for 2024:

Online workshops will be held across 2 half-days. Dates are now published on our training calendar.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please email Kirstie at

A New Resource for Boards

A New Resource for Boards

The Intersectional Feminist Governance Toolkit is under development.  Thank you to everyone in the sector who has contributed ideas and provided feedback during testing workshops between November and December 2023.  A special acknowledgment to Gabrielle from Inner Vision Consulting who has worked with us to develop this essential resource.

The toolkit is designed specifically for boards of specialist gendered violence services in Queensland using feminist values, frameworks, and practice principles.

It is designed to complement (not replace) specialist Governance Training with context and considerations for boards of specialist gendered violence services in Queensland. WorkUP Queensland will also offer NFP and Cultural Governance training in 2024/25.

What is included in the toolkit?

The toolkit contains a workbook providing information, case studies, links, and individual and board reflective questions in three sections:

  1. Connection to purpose
  2. Board capabilities and effectiveness, and
  3. The nature of the work

The toolkit features a series of six videos that bring to life the case studies in the workbook. The videos will be created with actors playing roles such as CEO, Board Chairperson, and Board Member and cover the following topics:

  1. Intersectional feminist governance – what is it?
  2. Governing a victim-survivor-centered service – gender analysis
  3. Showing up – values and beliefs
  4. Working in solidarity
  5. Board composition, and
  6. Role clarity

The sector (at all levels) is invited to contribute to the final product by sharing their insights into the topics listed above.  The sector's comments may be weaved into the videos/workbook using quotes and may help shape concept development.

If you would like to contribute your ideas, please do so via the brief survey below

Exploring Healing Programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities: A Path to Addressing Family Violence

Exploring Healing Programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities: A Path to Addressing Family Violence

We are pleased to let you know the research report titled "What works? Exploring the literature on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander healing programs that respond to family violence" has been released. This report, authored by Distinguished Professor Bronwyn Carlson, Madi Day, and Dr Terri Farrelly, and published by ANROWS, delves into the effectiveness of healing programs in addressing family violence within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. WorkUP Queensland has provided a summary paper on our resource hub.

The findings shed light on the importance of understanding trauma, the need for community involvement, and the role of healing programs in dismantling the systems of violence introduced by colonisation.

Colonialism has had a profound impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, introducing systems of violence that disrupt relationships and perpetuate intergenerational trauma. Family violence is experienced at alarmingly high rates, particularly by women, children, LGBTQIASB+ individuals, and those living with disability. However, it is crucial to recognise that family violence is not an inherent quality of these communities but rather a consequence of historical and ongoing systemic injustices.

The findings provide further evidence on the effectiveness of healing programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experiencing and/or using family violence. Key factors that contribute to the success of healing programs in addressing family violence include:

  1. Shared Understanding: Healing programs foster a shared understanding of trauma, holistic approaches, and the impacts of colonisation and intergenerational trauma. This includes recognising individuals as more than just perpetrators or victims of violence and delivering programs in safe and familiar spaces.
  2. Empowering Women: Involving women in the design, delivery, and evaluation of healing programs is essential. This approach ensures that programs meet the specific needs of communities and removes barriers to participation created by top-down approaches.
  3. Building Trust: Trust is established when services and programs meet community expectations, demonstrate credibility, and prioritise comfort and safety. Trust is a critical element for effective healing work.

 The report also highlights that healing programs, which support and include men and boys in the healing and reintegration process, can contribute to progress towards meeting the Closing the Gap target of reducing the overrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in the criminal justice system. By addressing the root causes of family violence, these programs offer an alternative to punitive measures and promote healing and reconciliation.

 Understanding new research can help us reflect on and grow in our practice. Take a moment to consider:

  • What do these findings mean for my work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples?
  • What parts of this research resonates with my practice. What could I change?

You can access the research summary now on the WorkUP Resource Hub, or the full report via the project page on the ANROWS website.  If you would like to know more about a particular piece of research, or what the current state of knowledge about a topic is, you can let us know via this form:

Psychosocial Hazards @ Work – Mind This!

Psychosocial Hazards @ Work – Mind This!

There has been a significant shift in Queensland's Work Health and Safety requirements over the past 18 months with the introduction of a positive duty in relation to the psychosocial (psychological) safety of people in all workplaces, including yours!

Legislative Updates

The changes to the Act and Regulation and the introduction of a new Code of Practice reflect that workplace injuries and harm can affect people's physical and psychological health (psychosocial).  While many workplaces have the systems and process in place to respond to injuries, the Managing the risk of psychosocial hazards at work Code of Practice 2022 (The Code) requires that the PCBU (the employer) undertakes risk management process to assist in the prevention of psychosocial injuries occurring. This positive duty, to work to prevent injury is clearly set and requires the PCBU to work to identify risks, assess them, consider control measures, then review this process, and that at each stage there must be consultation with workers. It’s a great time to work proactively with the union/s and members.

Recognising that psychological health can be impacted positively and negatively by work and workplaces is an important one. Workcover claims for psychological injuries are on the increase and maintaining healthy workplaces is good for our people, our clients and organisations. There is a clear gendered pattern to psychological claims, more women than men report these injuries.

The Code sets out 14 common psychosocial hazards that may exist, or potentially arise at a workplace from four clearly set out factors of work:

  1. the design or management of work (staffing rosters, workload, supervision etc)
  2. the work environment (location, noise, space etc)
  3. plant at a workplace (equipment used, including technologies) and
  4. workplace interactions and behaviours (between workers and third parties such as clients).

Additionally, as per the Code, consider that there are a range of different ways work can cause injury or cause further harm to people with pre-existing psychological conditions, or past injuries from traumatic events. Where an employer is aware through the employee choosing to let them know, then this should be confidentially managed and considered.

Specific Risks in our Sector

Working in the sexual violence, women's health and wellbeing and domestic and family violence is important, valued, and purposeful work that can be extremely rewarding.  Yet, given the inherent nature of the work itself, there are clear risks to the psychological health of our people; due to their own lived experiences (which can be a factor in why people are drawn to this work), and through the vicarious trauma of the work. Both these factors need to be considered in the process.

Knowing your people and what they do in their roles is the first step and this process and looking at ways of managing the risks and potential control measures must be done collaboratively.  Consultation is required by the Code through all stage of the process, including the control and review stages. It is essential that you do not use a tick and flick approach. The preventative work must be continuous and ongoing. You need to respond to changes; new hazards, new clients, new team members and as things occur, in addition to scheduled reviews. While establishing the framework now may seem a lot, it will reduce harm, lost productivity and be a great asset to building and maintaining a positive workplace culture.

The use of risk matrixes and the hierarchy of controls to determine the risk, look at what can reasonably be accommodated and when a risk cannot be eliminated, look to substitute, isolate, and reduce the risk through engineering controls. If this won’t reduce the hazard, then administrative controls must be considered (e.g., training, policy etc). The use of personal protection equipment (PPE) should always be the last measure considered.

Support and Resources for Implementation

This can feel overwhelming, please lean on the support available. Work with your administration and leadership teams, Unions and committees to discuss needs. Creating a positive culture in your workplace helps keep people safe and productive at work.  You can find some great resources, including templates, the Code and where to find out more at Work Safe Queensland’s webpage.

Penny Spalding
A/Director WWQ - Basic Rights Queensland