Peer mentoring – your own safety container

Our professional lives can seem to be constantly under the pump from needing to move forward and to constantly grow and learn. Whilst professional learning and growth is important, it’s also important to stop, pay attention and be aware of what is happening for us, how we are responding and what is driving that response. Only then can we know we are moving forward in the right direction. And sometimes it’s not about moving forward, it’s about staying still and taking a moment to breathe.

For many of us, doing this alone through journaling or meditation is challenging. Particularly so, when so many of our day to day decisions about our work are made alone.  Peer mentoring can feel like a soothing and comforting balm. Peer mentoring is when two or more people who share similar contexts, life experiences and challenges agree to connect for the purposes of mutual support. Not to give advice, not to judge and not to ‘stretch’ each other. Rather, to listen, to empathise, to share stories and together to create a safe container to hold the challenging stuff that is happening in your lives.

Connecting Across the Land is a peer mentoring program.  It has been designed to promote a culture of care within the sexual violence, women’s health and wellbeing and domestic and family violence sector which is a key priority of the Central and South West Queensland workforce plans.  It is a flexible program that will be iteratively tailored to meet the needs of participants to ensure that the connections that develop are authentic and last way beyond the semi-structured phase of the program.

You can register for Connecting Across the Land now at

to register for the information session or the whole program.

Contact Christine at WorkUP Queensland for more information:

0400 999 184

We would love to have you... You don’t have to fly solo!

Safe to stretch

When it comes to establishing creative and innovative workplaces ensuring a safe space is vital. When people feel that they are respected, valued and have the opportunity and resources to contribute their talents and perspectives everyone benefits through increased creativity, innovation and productivity.

“When we speak, listen and think well together there's greater productivity,” says Jan. “When we're psychologically safe to challenge ourselves that's where creativity, innovation and collaboration happens.”
A safe space though doesn’t mean a space for avoiding disagreements. “It’s about ensuring people feel safe to bring their whole self to whatever it is that they're doing.”

If teams are to learn together, they must be able to ‘think together’ which requires that they develop the disciplines of dialogue and discussion. In productive, creative and meaningful conversations team members must suspend assumptions, listen, speak openly, share meaning and allow new insights to develop in the process of thinking together about complex issues.

Jan Ungerer has worked with countless individuals, teams and organisations to develop meaningful change. Jan is presenting two upcoming workshops ‘Safe to Stretch’ and ‘Ideas to Action’ for WorkUP Qld throughout August and September. Jan shares some insights about these upcoming workshops that have a focus on developing team cultures that enable creativity and innovation.

Jan is looking forward to equipping participants with knowledge, confidence and strategies for creating a culture where everyone is expected and encouraged to create and innovate, bringing the best ideas to life.

You can find out more about Jan and her work at

You can register and find out more here 

Contact Christine at WorkUP Queensland on 0400 999 184 or email christine@healingfoundation for more information.

Cultural consciousness

Cultural consciousness

Over the next few months we will be exploring themes around cultural consciousness and cultural humility and what it means for our sector.

Cultural humility enables us to increase our ability to see things from other's viewpoints and helps us to be able to work better together across the sector, by understanding different cultural backgrounds. It encourages us to challenge power imbalances and to be more self reflective of our beliefs and our behaviours.

We will start with talking about cultural awareness.

For over 60,000 years, Australia has had extremely diverse Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

It was estimated that prior to 1788, Australia had over 500 clan groups/nations with many distinctive cultures, beliefs, law and languages.

That number has obviously declined due to the impacts of colonisation and other contributing factors but as a frontline service worker, are you meant to know all these differing Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander cultures when we provide services and supports to them?

How do we know the nuances that make up body language in communities from Far North Queensland? Are you supposed to know the complex interactions and relationships between community members in South West Queensland?

These questions although common, can be at least looked at through the lens of cultural awareness or competency to better understand how you can process these cultural distinctions about the clients and communities you work with.

Cultural awareness

The question is often asked “Why do I need to do cultural awareness?”

The simple answer is that the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients and communities you work with, will appreciate your help and your willingness to walk and talk with them.

A good definition of cultural awareness is:

“Someone's cultural awareness is their understanding of the differences between themselves and people from other countries or other backgrounds especially differences in attitudes and values."

It’s a process of becoming sensitive and aware to the existence of cultural practices from outside your own. In a practical sense, this often means a short workshop where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and history is explained as an overview and considered in the context of traditional life, spirituality, relationships, lore and impacts of colonisation.

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 on them.

So the next time you have an opportunity to participate in cultural awareness training or engage in working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clients or communities, take it.  Don’t miss the opportunity to find out more and engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders sharing their culture.

 “Here in Australia we’re fortunate enough to have one of the richest and oldest continuing cultures in the world. This is something we should all be proud of and celebrate.”

Dr Tom Calma AO, Co-Chair Reconciliation Australia






Practice principles, standards and guidance for domestic and family violence services

Practice principles, standards and guidance for domestic and family violence services

As we are all developing a deeper understanding of the newly released Practice principles, standards and guidance for domestic and family violence services in Queensland, WorkUP Queensland is looking at them with a workforce lens.

The practice standards are informed by theoretical frameworks already familiar to many services. The updated standards support best practice by reflecting years of collective wisdom from across the sector. The theoretical frameworks underpinning the standards include but are not limited to a gendered analysis for understanding DFV, social justice and human rights principles, the psychosocial model, intersectional analysis and family systems theory.

WorkUP Queensland team members will be attending the DCSYW webinars to connect with the sector and deepen our understanding of these practice standards. We are interested in exploring how our work aligns with these standards and if the standards provide insight into the development or implementation any of our future activities supporting the capability and capacity of the workforce.

To learn more about the Practice Standards you to view them here. Let us know if you have any reflections you would like to share – check out our Facebook group.

Step in. Be in. Reach out.

Leading a service in the sexual assault, women’s health and wellbeing and domestic violence sector is complex.  The sector is driven by crisis, high demand, risk management and the expectations of funding providers and clients. Leaders report both the challenges and the benefits of leading strong teams of advocates, of keeping people well and of working within the confinements of organisational systems and structures.  And yet, our data tells us that leaders stay, driven by a high commitment to end domestic violence and keep women and children safe.

When WorkUP Queensland undertook workforce planning during 2019 we found that the sector has a highly experienced, long term pool of leaders.  We wondered what succession plans were in place to find and grow the leaders of the future and we learnt that many leaders are developed from within.  This transition from service delivery to leadership comes with a range of challenges including the juggle of the dual role that includes leading and service delivery and of leading a team of people who were previously peers.

In response to these challenges and opportunities WorkUP Queensland is offering a range of leadership programs throughout 2020.  These programs aim to provide professional development at a range of levels and through a mix of facilitated peer learning and skills development opportunities.

If you’re an emerging leader we invite you to join us for Growing in Leadership.  There is strength in deliberately choosing the leader that you want to be.  This flexible, bite sized program will enable emerging leaders to fine tune their own leadership style and learn more about managing teams in largely crisis focused organisations including the importance of workplace culture and taking care of themselves as leaders.

If you’re an existing leader we invite you to join us for Developing Advanced leadership.  This program has a focus on the development of advanced leadership skills, attributes and behaviours that support the complex nature of executive leadership.  Leaders will have the opportunity to come together with other experienced leaders to explore the complexities of leadership at this level and learn from each other in a facilitated environment.

We also look forward to offering several Leadership Masterclass skills development workshops later in 2020.  These include Conflict Intelligence, Difficult Conversations and Leading Mindfully.

We believe that emerging and existing leaders can grow in capability and that workforce leadership capacity can be enhanced by connecting emerging and existing leaders.  We look forward to working with the sector to develop a Leadership Mentoring Program in the next phase of our leadership offerings in 2021.

Lastly, we want to hear and share your stories.  We are soon to commence development of a series of leadership vignettes featuring emerging and existing leaders.

For more information about WorkUP Queensland leadership offerings please contact Christine at or on 0400 999 184.

Practice Studios: Introduction to round two webinar

Introduction to round two webinar

WorkUP Qld is pleased to announce the launch of the second round of practice studios. Practice studios take current and emerging research and seek to implement them in real world practice settings.

WorkUP Queensland will be hosting a webinar on Thursday 23 July to introduce you to the new list of practice studio topics and explain how organisations can submit an EOI to become practice studio hosts.  The list of topics was generated through consultation with the WorkUP Queensland Reference Group and a review of current and emerging research.

In the webinar we will introduce each topic on the list and discuss the ways it might be implemented as a practice studio. Michele Robinson (Director, Evidence to Action, ANROWS) will provide additional background about the research projects and some key lessons learned.

You will also get to hear from the current practice studio hosts about their projects and their experience so far.  Talia van Giles from Gympie Community Action will talk about how her team has begun to implement the Social Entrapment Framework, a tool designed to tell women’s stories holistically and contribute to better justice outcomes.  Marta Barnes, from Cairns Sexual Assault Service will talk about the Trauma and Violence Informed Care Framework and how they intend to use it to improve service user experiences.

This webinar is for the domestic and family violence, sexual assault and women’s health and wellbeing workforce and would be of interest to anyone considering hosting a practice studio, or just wanting to know more about current and emerging evidence. You will have an opportunity to pose questions to the presenters.

We hope you can join us for this event on Thursday 23 July at 12pm.

See more information about the EOI process here and the full list of topics here

You don't have to fly solo

You don't have to fly solo

Being part of a small community can feel incredibly empowering and isolating at the same time. As a community service professional, you are highly visible – everyone knows who you are, and people associate you with your professional role.

Walking into a community event to be welcomed by all, can feel like a big warm hug. However, it can also be very uncomfortable when having had a challenging counselling session with a client, later that day you then bump into that client with her family at the supermarket.

This is compounded by your professional ethics. Literally, there is no one appropriate in your community to talk to, debrief with, get advice or to simply chew the fat and decompress with.

We know that a problem shared is a problem halved but realistically in small regional and remote communities, your options for sharing may be limited.

The kind of support you need is the ‘human’ kind – it’s not about stretching or improving or making you better at what you do – it’s about authentic support, having conversations with someone who gets you and shares your experience of being a professional in a rural or remote community.

Flying solo can feel great for a short while. It can also get tiring, but you don’t have to keep doing it alone. Peer mentoring that is scaffolded by a flexible program based on your needs could make the world of difference for your happiness, well-being and your capacity to keep bringing your best self to your role.

Connecting Across the Land is a flexible program designed to meet a need expressed by sexual violence, women’s health and wellbeing and domestic violence workers across remote areas of Queensland.  The program will be tailored to meet the needs of participants who will work together to build authentic connections that continue long after the semi-structured phase of the program is complete.

If you’re curious we would like to invite you to join us for the Connecting Across the Land information session on 30 July.  You can register here

Contact Christine at WorkUP Queensland for more information: or phone on 0400 999 184.

We would love to have you. You don’t have to fly solo!

Year 2 Workforce Surveys extended to 8 July

Year 2 Workforce Surveys

We invite you to have your input into our Year 2 workforce surveys before Wednesday 8 July.

The surveys provide an opportunity for us all to better understand the workforce across Domestic and Family Violence, Sexual Assault and Women's Health and Wellbeing services in Queensland.

Last year’s survey provided us with a baseline.  We used this to inform our workforce planning with data on the profile of the workforce such as age and qualifications, as well as information on issues of attraction and retention, length of employment and skills requirements.

The more participation by both individuals and organisations the more robust the results will be and in turn the more useful for the whole sector.

This year we will also be building an understanding of the wellbeing across the sector. This addition has come from requests by the sector.

Workforce data is one of the ways we can tell a story of the sector. So, we are asking each worker in the sector to complete the individual survey and one person from each organisation complete an organisational survey.

Download the Year 2 Workforce Survey flyer here 

Organisation survey:

Individual survey:

Closing date for survey responses has been extended to Wednesday 8 July, 2020.

If you have any questions about the survey, please email us:

Knowledge Circles

Knowledge Circles

Indigenous communities have utilised the framework of knowledge sharing and exchange for thousands of years. Knowledge systems have ensured that community structures remained strong. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have always shared wisdom and knowledge through their stories.

Knowledge was gained through interaction with the environment, totems and ceremonial groups, ensuring community leadership was shared and the system of knowledge transfer did not rest in one person. Community members had responsibility for certain knowledge relationships thus reinforcing shared leadership and responsibility.

Knowledge circles enable an equal and collaborative way of working.

They do not presume that your knowledge is greater than mine but open a possibility of sharing and respecting how we build our knowledge system together, strengthening our understanding and ensuring equal responsibility for an outcome.

They enable an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander world view to be enacted by supporting the strengths of cultural wisdom and systems to be reinstated and this strengthens participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

Virtual Knowledge Circles

In response to the lockdown conditions throughout Queensland, WorkUP Queensland went online and continued engaging the sector Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Domestic and Family Violence, Sexual Assault and Women’s Health services via online web seminars.

These webinars resulted in Virtual Knowledge Circles that brought together Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Domestic and Family Violence, Sexual Assault and Women’s Health workers from around the State to a virtual space to participate in the Knowledge Circles.

The series commenced in April with the first Virtual Knowledge Circle themed “Responding to the challenges of the Coronavirus Pandemic within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Domestic and Family Violence Sector” and opened the door to successive Virtual Knowledge throughout April, May and concluding in June.

The following series of Virtual Knowledge Circles were titled:

  • “Responding to people experiencing intergenerational trauma triggered by these events.” (24 April)
  • “Strategies for engagement in behaviour change programs when face to face groups aren’t possible.” (7 May)
  • “Understanding and responding to increased risk of DFV in disasters through shared knowledge and practice Self-care strategies for staff.” (24 May)
  • “Self-Care strategies for Staff.” (4 June)

The circles were held in conjunction with the Healing Foundations Director of Programs, Sarah Boyne who provided valuable insight and support into many of the themes including healing, response, support and practice.

The series attracted over 30 participants, which utilised virtual breakout rooms to encourage the open and respectful discussion for the sharing of knowledge and practice application within the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sector.

Closing the Circle

Once  sessions were concluded, the circles were ‘closed’  and summaries of the key learnings sent back to the circle participants.

Some the stand out themes have included:

  • The need to understand trauma to connect with other people’s trauma.
  • Understanding what is culture” and how habits can become a part of one’s culture.
  • Practices and learnings that help to break down the shame and stigma of violence in our communities.
  • Services continue to be client focussed and strengths based.
  • Have yarns instead of chats with clients.
  • Clients still value check ins, regardless of it being phone, emails or agency visits during lockdown.


Despite being a new medium in which to facilitate a conventional process, Virtual Knowledge Circles proved to work well in connecting the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Domestic and Family Violence sector.

Based on the participation rates and feedback to date, we are anticipating that the sector would like to continue with the Virtual Knowledge Circles in developing a network and communities  of practice through the sharing of their regional knowledge and practices.

Future Knowledge Circles both face to face and virtual will look to identify emerging trends and practices through this network of communities and relationships developed during these knowledge circles.

Language matters - celebrating diversity and holding and enacting a vision of inclusion

By celebrating diversity and holding and enacting a vision of inclusion, we create services that respect and are accessible to people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.  

This was one of the takeaway messages from Dr Brodie Evans’ keynote address at the Same Same but Different inclusion forum, focusing on the importance of inclusivity for people who identify as Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex & queer/questioning (LGBTIQ) 

Dr Evans is the Men’s Program Coordinator at Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) an activity of Micha Projects. Dr Evans is also a Visiting Fellow with the Queensland University of Technology’s ‘School of Justice’ where he works as a teacher and a researcher focusing on discourse, law and public policy, and political activism, as they relate to issues of social and criminal justice.  

The forum explored discourse and our choice of words that can positively impact clients who identify as LGBTIQ.  One practical way we can use language is to ask about and use a person’s preferred gender pronouns. 

Our need to work in structures can reinforce the view that domestic violence is a problem exclusive to heterosexual relationships?  In reality gendered violence is experienced in the context of intimate and kin relationships irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.  

A practical way that organisations can support diversity is by being intentionally inclusive of LGBTIQ people in the development of policies and marketing materials.  The language and imagery we use in these materials can provide clues to potential workers and clients that the service is inclusive and that they will be welcome.  For example, websites that reflect equality in their language and images can send a strong message about inclusion.   

It is important to note that using the right terms has limits especially when we account for cultures that may not have specific language to describe various identities and expressions. Still, as workers in the sector we can all play a part in challenging the view that to be normal is to be heterosexual and cisgender.  

For further information check out the following: 

Developing LGBTIQ programs for perpetrators and victims/survivors of domestic and family violence. 

The “heterosexual face” of domestic violence can disguise the fact that domestic and family violence and intimate partner violence also occurs in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTIQ) relationships. This can leave LGBTIQ people struggling to find and access appropriate interventions, with the problem affecting those seeking support after experiencing violence and abuse, as well as those who wish to change their violent and abusive behaviours. 

Another Closet is a portal of resources for support, referral and information to support LGBTIQ populations who may be experiencing domestic and family violence or for anyone supporting them.