New practice studios to improve DV support for refugees and migrants 

New practice studios to improve DV support for refugees and migrants 

Evidence suggests that women who have resettled in Australia face a range of distinct barriers that can hinder access to violence-specific services. WorkUP’s Multicultural and Settlement Services Supporting Women Experiencing Violence (MuSeS) project provides evidence about the current and potential role of settlement and multicultural services in supporting migrant and refugee women experiencing violence.  

WorkUP Queensland is excited to announce two new practice studios that will focus on implementing the findings of the MuSeS project.

Key recommendations emerging from this research include: 

  • recognising multicultural and settlement services as an integral part of the family violence system 
  • buildng the bilingual/bicultural workforce within the family violence sector 
  • embedding protocols for risk assessment within multicultural and settlement services
  • ensuring training for staff and volunteers
  • addressing stress and staff turnover 
  • strengthening collaboration between the family violence sector and the multicultural and settlement services sector.

Practice studios are small projects, funded through WorkUP Queensland, that aim to increase our knowledge of what it takes to implement evidence in practice. 

DV Connect and Children by Choice will be exploring different ways of implementing MuSeS recommendations. The team at DV Connect will be working with multicultural and settlement services in Queensland to improve ways of responding to culturally and linguistically diverse people, who represent about 17% of all DV Connect clients. In turn, DV Connect will support the same services to enhance their capacity to respond to people who are experiencing violence.  

Sophie Cashin from DV Connect was thrilled to find out that their proposal was successful: 

“Our staff on the DV Connect crisis lines have for a long time been interested in approaching aspects of the integrated service system differently, so that we are more accessible to individuals from multicultural backgrounds, and better positioned to respond collaboratively with services across different sectors so that we can achieve improved community outcomes that prioritise the safety of women and children from diverse backgrounds. It is wonderful to be in a position where we can have resources dedicated to working on this over the next 12 months.”  

Children by Choice will build on the work they have done developing reproductive coercive control resources to ensure they meet the needs of everyone in our community. They will work in collaboration with multicultural and settlement services to ensure they meet the needs of different groups and carry relevant messages and images.  

Bec Jenkinson at Children by Choice shared her thoughts about the practice studio: 

“Bringing together community members and advocates to exchange knowledge and co-design culturally appropriate resources is an important step in improving the sexual and reproductive health outcomes of culturally and linguistically diverse women and people who may become pregnant. We are excited to be partnering with WorkUP on this project.” 

Congratulations to both organisations. WorkUP is very proud to be supporting this important work.  

Click here to learn more about practice studios and how your organisation can get involved, or contact Theresa Kellett at  

We will be holding an event in the coming months to explore and discuss the MuSeS project and recommendations. 


‘Our Talk’: new monthly networking sessions

‘Our Talk’: new monthly networking sessions

Due to the impacts of intergenerational trauma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience a disproportionate level of domestic violence and hospitalisationsIt is therefore essential that the sector has aAboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce that understands and is responsive to the complex needs of their clients’ communities, in addition to be being well-equipped to provide the necessary professional and cultural support. 

Considering the need for adequate workforce representation in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the sector has recognised that the numbers are considerably low compared to other sector workforce populations 

As part of WorkUP Queensland’s ongoing commitment to the sector, we will present a series of monthly seminars, called ‘Our Talk’ to provide opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander domestic and family violence workers to develop new understandings, and add to their current knowledge of, issues within the domestic and family violence, sexual assault and women’s health sector.  

The series will also generate discussion about practice issues in communities and seek to supplement any professional development gaps in current training opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander domestic and family violence workers.   

We aim to do this by: 

  • facilitating conversations and connections between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander domestic and family violence staff to establish and maintain networks throughout the regions
  • facilitating sharing of practice knowledge from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander domestic and family violence workers 
  • supplementing current on-the-job training and professional development opportunities available to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector staff with relevant or new topics.  

The series will inform WorkUP Queensland’s future professional development events for the sector.  

‘Our Talksessions will commence on 11  February and run for two hours each month. They will conclude on 11 November.

We invite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander domestic and family violence workers to register, reconnect with your peers and indulge in some of ‘Our Talk’.

To find out more, please contact Lee Fagan on 0447 108 086 or email  

You can also register for other WorkUP Queensland professional development events here.  

Intersectionality – helping us to become better advocates for our clients

Intersectionality – helping us to become better advocates for our clients

This year WorkUP Queensland is focusing on intersectionality. Intersectionality considers how power relations arise and interact from social location including, but not limited to, race, class, gender and ability.

An understanding of the theory and how it works in practice is important to the gender-based violence sector because it may increase capability to work with at-risk populations. American lawyer and academic Kimberlé Crenshaw is largely credited with coining the term:

Women working in the field of domestic violence have sometimes reproduced the subordination and marginalisation of women of colour by adopting policies, priorities, or strategies of empowerment that either elide or wholly disregard the particular intersectional needs of women of colour. While gender, race, and class intersect to create the context in which women of colour experience violence, certain choices made by “allies” can reproduce intersectional subordination within the very resistance strategies designed to respond to the problem.
- Kimberlé Crenshaw

Intersectionality can help us to become better advocates for our clients by looking at the ways intersecting forms of discrimination shape people’s experiences of violence. It allows us to explore complexity by understanding how multiple types of oppression can act at the same time.

While it is possible to approach one type of discrimination at a time, for example, sexism, intersectionality is about exploring all the potential barriers to equality.

To be more effective in the gendered violence space, we can study intersectionality to enhance our understanding of the way violence shows up differently across class and cultural contexts. This means the experiences of victims, perpetrators and communities are shaped by their structural and social locations. Intersectionality views characteristics like race, class and gender as an intersecting process that sits within a historical context.

An intersectional lens can be applied in a ‘both and’ way, whereby we acknowledge systems of ‘power over’ and the corresponding opportunities for empowerment that spring from it. This can be seen in the various forms of activism that exist and at times, overlap across the sector.

If you are keen to take a deeper look at intersectionality, join us for a SPARK webinar on 12 February with Dr Virginia Mapedzahama and Helen Sowey from ANROWS. This webinar will explore the connection between intersectionality and inclusive practice, looking at how to apply some tenets of intersectionality, including:

  • self-reflexivity
  • listening – and creating spaces for listening – to people experiencing multiple oppressions
  • collaborating with people experiencing multiple oppressions.

Following the SPARK webinar, WorkUP Queensland will offer a series of workshops on intersectionality as it applies to specific populations. You will have the opportunity to choose the ones that interest you.

Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page for upcoming information about this series.

Save the date! Daring, feminist, inclusive leadership – bringing our best into 2021

Save the date! Daring, feminist, inclusive leadership – bringing our best into 2021

The impact of the global pandemic has been significant for family violence and women’s health services. Throughout 2020, organisations have had to completely rethink the way they support women, do their work, connect with partners, facilitate integrated service systems and lead their teams.

What we have heard loudly and clearly from the sector during this time is that you do not want to let go of the leadership that has been enacted during 2020, but want to build on and strengthen it, carry it forward into 2021 and beyond.

We have also heard that you want to be inspired and challenged, to hear from a range of diverse voices and to connect with your peers through flexible, high-quality professional development.

WorkUP Queensland’s 2021 leadership program, ‘Daring, Feminist, Inclusive Leadership’, is designed to meet these needs.

Who should attend and what does it mean to be a leader?

Is it about a role, a skill set, a qualification or length of service to the sector?

For this program, we would like to invite people who identify with Brené Brown’s definition of leadership to take part. Brené defines a leader as ‘anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes, and who has the courage to develop that potential.’

The program will explore what daring, feminist and inclusive leadership looks and feels like and how these qualities are being and can be enacted in the workplace and broader community.

There are two components to this flexible program:

1. Three leadership symposiums

Online on 19 March, and in Brisbane on 30 July and 3 December, these symposiums will introduce women in various roles in the sector and wider community who are enacting daring, feminist, inclusive leadership.

2. Facilitated peer networks

These small groups will connect people across the sector and support them to work together to delve deeply into key themes. They will share how the qualities of daring, feminist, inclusive leadership are and can be enacted in their own organisations and communities.

Dates will be scheduled with participants.

To get the best out of this program, we encourage you to engage in both components, although you can register for the symposiums only if you prefer.

Please save the dates and in the meantime, we hope you will help us to shape our speaker line-up by letting us know:

1. Who are the daring, feminist, inclusive leaders of our sector?
2. Who are the daring, feminist, inclusive leaders of Australia?

View the Daring, Inclusive, Feminist Leadership Flyer

If you have any questions, would like to register for updates or to provide speaker suggestions, please contact Christine at

Help us to increase diversity in the workforce

Help us to increase diversity in the workforce

A diverse workforce is one of the most important ways to ensure innovative ideas, skill sets and solutions. WorkUP Queensland is embarking on a new Grow the Workforce project by mapping the many different pathways into working in the domestic and family violence, sexual assault and women’s health and wellbeing sector.

The project will provide resources to assist in reaching out to and recruiting people from outside the sector. To do this, we need your help!

Your employment path into the sector 

We are in search of examples from staff in the sector who have come from a range of backgrounds, such as a different discipline or part of the community sector. If this is you, or someone you know, we would love to hear from you! 

While we are looking for real case studies that show how rewarding it can be to work in the sector – and the range of skills and disciplines that can be used to succeed in this work – we are flexible about using names and images. 

Student placements 

Student placements can help trainees to develop a passion for work in the sector and can assist organisations to find staff.

If you have had positive experiences of student placements, please let us know. We would love to share positive stories of student placements that have supported your workforce development.

If you can help, please reach out to Georgina at WorkUP at

NAIDOC Week 2020: A remarkable change

NAIDOC Week 2020: A remarkable change

By Lee Fagan

2020 has been a tough year for many people.

For many of us in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Queensland, the passing of our year is marked by significant social and cultural events on our calendar. These events give recognition to our place as First Nations peoples of Australia.

In 2020, some of these of these events occurred in the early part of the year. Invasion Day (26 January), National Apology Day (13 February), National Close the Gap Day 9 (19 March) and Harmony Day (21 March) are some of the events that marked the start of 2020 for us. We were lucky enough to be able to celebrate these, but unfortunately, many other events scheduled for the latter part of 2020 were cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the most prominent events on our cultural calendar to be affected was NAIDOC Week, which is always observed in the first week of July. NAIDOC Week celebrates our identity, history and connection to this country. It also acts as a cultural beacon for a themed union to all our nations as well as the rest of the Australia.

The changes to NAIDOC Week this year are being felt across Queensland. Here in Brisbane, it is one of the most significant events on our cultural calendar. It is when many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people renew and reinforce their connections and make new ones with others.

Many South East Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities celebrate this special week, which culminates in a Family Fun Day at Musgrave Park in Brisbane’s West End. As Musgrave Park is seen by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as a site of extreme cultural and social significance, the culmination of NAIDOC Week at this special location is fitting.

In lieu of NAIDOC Week in July, WorkUp Queensland started to collaborate with our host WeWork site around the possibility of hosting a modest NAIDOC celebration throughout the week in the WeWork space.

The activities we proposed included dancing, cultural group activities such as weaving and storytelling, and discussion panels that showcase the rich cultural history of Australia’s First Nations peoples to WeWork co-workers.

It’s worth noting that many of these co-workers are national and international companies and start-ups, who we assumed would have minimal interactions with First Nations peoples, let alone be exposed to and be able to participate in NAIDOC with us.

Throughout the months leading up to November, WeWork and WorkUp planned and reviewed the list of possible activities that could be hosted in their space. This list was eventually whittled down to just onsite events due to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines.

As a result, we had to cancel any events that required a number of people in the same place, such as the traditional dance performance, cooking activities, opening ceremony and Welcome to Country by community Elders, and the highly anticipated expert panel.

Despite this, we continued planning and what resulted was a well-considered ‘gig guide’, mostly generated by WeWork staff member, Emma O’Brien, whose events management background gave her the passion to really plan and negotiate with WorkUp.

We settled on a series of low-impact events designed to showcase First Nations culture that could be run in the commercial WeWork space.

The events include:

  • a static art display from Birrunga Art Gallery, at the Eagle Street WeWork site, which also happens to be located at one of the most prominent executive buildings in Brisbane
  • a Spotify playlist of only First Nations artists generated by The Healing Foundation and WorkUp Queensland staff to be played through the sound system of the three WeWork sites for the entire week
  • a large pull-up banner with Acknowledgement to Country at the entrances to the WeWork sites, which WeWork will also propose to their head office, to make this a fixed feature in all their work sites
  • static displays of words in English and in local and regional languages and dialects placed throughout the building for tenants to read
  • a large reference map of all the First Nations countries and groups on which WeWork tenants will have the opportunity to ‘pin’ where they are from or where their business is located
  • catering for breakfast and afternoon events, using Australian bush foods, also by Birrunga, which is owned by and employs First Nations peoples
  • free non-alcoholic beverages from Sobah Beverages, another First Nations owned company
  • a static strengths cards display in the general area of the Edwards Street site to promote reflection on First Nations issues. This is from Chris Payne, a WorkUp Queensland staff member who developed it in partnership with Rona Scherer, a Mamu-Yalanji woman from North Queensland. The resource cards are grounded in respect for First Nations ways of knowing, being and doing.

Despite the limitations placed on this event, this exercise with WeWork has highlighted the cultural respect and integrity of WeWork staff in ensuring that we, as First Nations peoples, are acknowledged and consulted with respect and thought.

I noted particularly that throughout the process, as First Nations people and WorkUp Queensland staff members, our perspectives were actively sought and embedded into the planning.

I have no doubt that this period has strengthened our connections to WeWork and its tenants, as not just a partner during NAIDOC Week, but as an ally in showing the spirit of NAIDOC Week and walking beside us to acknowledge that we are all, indeed, Australians.

Scholarship launch – supporting professional development

Scholarship launch – supporting professional development 

WorkUP Queensland has completed the first round of the scholarship program for the domestic and family violence, sexual violence and women’s health and wellbeing workforce sector.

Scholarships to the value of $20,000 were granted towards fees for accredited training and higher education for workers of any level across organisations.

Our 2020 round awarded scholarships for a range of courses including:

  • Graduate Diploma of Domestic and Family Violence Practice
  • Graduate Certificate in Business (Philanthropy and Non-Profit Studies)
  • Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Trauma and Recovery Practice
  • Graduate Certificate in Facilitating Men’s Behaviour Change
  • Master of Domestic and Family Violence Practice
  • Bachelor of Psychological Sciences
  • Graduate Diploma of Mental Health
  • Graduate Certificate in Applied Coaching
  • Master of Human Rights

Our next round of Scholarships will be launched late 2021. Please subscribe to our Newsletter to be kept up to date with WorkUP Queensland activities.

Collaborative Workforce Grants

Collaborative Workforce Grants

The Collaborative Workforce Grants support organisations to develop the capacity of their staff and organisations to respond to workforce challenges.

The program provides up to $10,000 for an activity or project and are a great opportunity for organisations to work together on a project that may have been on the agenda but needed support to complete.

The grants align with WorkUP and the sector’s shared workforce priorities to grow, retain, develop, support and connect the workforce, and sustain services.

The following organisations* were awarded grants in 2020 for projects to be completed in 2021:

  • Micah Projects: We are all Works in Progress: Developing the skills of those working with domestic violence perpetrators
  • Brisbane Rape and Incest Survivors Support Centre: Practicing: Cultural Healing and Diversity (CHAD)
  • Children by Choice: Sharing knowledge: Working with women with intellectual disability at the intersection of violence, reproductive coercion and unplanned pregnancy
  • Cairns Sexual Assault  Service: Lifting the Lid 2021
  • Mercy Community Services SE Qld: Working with Domestic Violence & Cultural Sensitivity –Yarning Circle
  • SPEAQ: SPEAQ Forum 2021
  • Save the Children Australia: Communities of Practice (COP): Using the Safe & Together approach to shift practice, culture and systems

* lead organisation or network listed only

Our next round of Workforce Grants will be launched late 2021. Please subscribe to our Newsletter to be kept up to date with WorkUP Queensland activities.

Sexual Violence Awareness Month – Start by Believing

Sexual Violence Awareness Month – Start by Believing

The single biggest factor stopping victims/survivors speaking out about sexual violence is the fear of not being believed.

Di Maclead, Director, Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence

On average, one in five women is likely to experience sexual violence over the course of her lifetime,1 and that assault is most likely to occur by someone she knows. Community attitudes that minimise or dismiss women’s allegations of sexual assault remain alarmingly high, with 42% of people believing that women make up claims of sexual assault to get back at men and 31% of people believing that rape allegations were a result of women experiencing regret after engaging in a sexual act.

October is Sexual Violence Awareness Month (SVAM) with the simple but powerful message, Start by Believing. WorkUP Queensland reached out to practitioners working in the sexual violence sector across the state, asking them what this meant to them and their practice and how they planned to acknowledge sexual violence awareness month.

When we start by believing we can change the whole trajectory of healing, of justice and healthcare. It’s simple…I believe you, I am sorry this happened to you, how can I help?

Di Macleod challenges us by asking When someone tells you they were sexually assaulted, how will you respond?

When invited to reflect on SVAM Katrina Weeks, at the Centre Against Sexual Violence (Logan), offered the following:

It makes such a big difference to a survivor of sexual assault if you start by believing their disclosure. It is important to support them in ways they find helpful. In my work as a sexual assault counsellor I have found that women and children who have been believed by whoever they first disclosed to have gone on to have much better outcomes both in their healing and possible criminal justice responses. Here at CASV we have worked with the Gold Coast CASV and Logan police to promote Start by Believing.  

Another theme for this year’s SVAM is #affirmative consent. Queensland needs legalisation that supports a model of affirmative consent based on the idea that all people have the right to have sex or not. That any sex that takes place needs active confirmation including everyone involved taking steps to ensure the others involved want to participate freely.  Current proposed legislative changes do not go far enough and do not support a community standard of active consent.

Support a SVAM event

The Gold Coast Centre Against Sexual Violence is commencing with an online launch event in October, and then each week this month they will be hosting events under different themes. You can find more information here.

The Centre Against Sexual Violence in Logan and Murrigunyah Family and Cultural Healing Centre will be holding their annual candle lighting vigil via Facebook. They will be launching virtual tours of their services in Logan and Redlands via their website and Facebook. The Centre Against Sexual Violence will also be distributing coasters with the theme of Ask, Listen, Respect throughout the community. You can find out more here.

Women’s Legal Service Queensland are holding a webinar about the Sexual Assault Counselling Privilege on 28 October 2020 at 1:00pm for community service providers in Queensland. You can register to attend here.

Finally, congratulations to all the recipients of the 2020 Sexual Violence Prevention Grants. They include a range of innovative and practical projects that will happen across the state. You can find out more here.

  1. Facts and figures informing this article are taken from Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS). (2018). Are we there yet? Australians’ attitudes towards violence against women and gender equality: Summary findings from the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) (Research to policy and practice, 03/2018). Sydney, NSW: ANROWS.

Cultural consciousness essential for change

Cultural consciousness essential for change

By Lee Fagan

The following is the second in a series in which we will be exploring cultural consciousness and what it means for our sector.

As a student of the Australian public school system in the 1980s, I was fascinated by the stories of the early Australian explorers and how they braved the outback and the wilds of Australia to forge new routes across the land for the progress of Australia’s economy and eventual national identity.

I was plied with textbook stories in my Australian history and social studies classes of how these explorers and surveyors who were acting in the national interests had to contend with extreme weather and survival conditions whilst combating the ‘savages’ or ‘natives’ of the land along the way.

This was a fantasy that many of us indulged in. Why?

Because we could.

The romanticisation of the First Australians into the ‘other’ resulted in many Australians believing that they were hunter gatherers, nomads in a land where they roamed from coast to coast without check, a paradox who posed a mere hindrance to the advancement of society and progress at the time, despite being portrayed as a tangible threat.

Thankfully, after an extended period of social and national awareness in which significant events punctuated the Australian sense of identity and began bringing First Nations peoples into the Australian psyche (such as the formation of the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association (1924), the Australian Aboriginal League (1934), the Aborigines Progressive Association (1937), the Day of Mourning and Protest (1938) and the 1967 Referendum etc.), it became apparent that First Nations peoples were not hunter gathers with wanderlust or a bad case of boredom.

It was realised that they were nationals of their own accord in their own nations, with their own set of government, beliefs and society that managed to exist and thrive in the vast and diverse geography of Australia, with the ability to coalesce their contemporary interests into something more serving, often with impact.

The realisation in my teenage years of this was by increasingly significant social and cultural shifts as well as an increased media exposure on First Nations issues and events.

As an adult I looked back and realised not just how sanitised that era of primary school learning was for me, but it also made me realise how lacking my knowledge was on my other First Nations states throughout not just Queensland but also Australia.


There are many turning points in our society for this change, many of which are modern-day responses to this misconception about Australia’s First Nations.

Some pivot points were the national and international social justice movements, an increase in First Nations advocates and champions who fought for rights and access for First Nations peoples. These campaigns were underpinned by the ever-changing political landscape, which saw conservative and liberal governments march interchangeably through our political junctures.

But I think there was a subtler change occurring amongst this sociopolitical tidal movement.

I think Australians in general wanted to become more invested in a relationship of mutual connection and understanding with the First Nations peoples.


The concept of sharing is intrinsic in many First Nations cultures. The belief and practice that not one person owns something for themselves but shares all things for everyone is a central tenet of such communal societies.

I am not sure when the first formal cultural awareness course was incepted. I have tried to find when and where it happened, but time is too far gone to effectively pinpoint that period where it came into being and was delivered with certainty to a well-intentioned population.

What I can be sure of though is that cultural awareness in its simplest form was always present in our society. As long as there were people willing to understand and learn about First Nations cultures and their history, there were the champions and educators willing to share.

As I highlighted in my first piece, the purpose of cultural awareness is to create a space in which to engage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities with an understanding of the differences and issues that have impacted them.

Looking at how far we have come as a society from the fearmongering and exotification of the past, to willingly celebrating the highs of First Australians being represented on the world stage, certainly highlights the enthusiasm shown in learning and understanding about other cultures. It also shows us the road ahead for many of us who wish to engage with respect and humility with those who hold the legacy of past assumptions and misdirection that was imposed upon our First Nations forebears.