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Deb Gavan

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It is nice to meet you, my name is Deb. I am a senior leader, social worker, psychotherapist, policy analyst, and work-based educator. I am also a non-bio mum, law student and active advocate in Queer communities. Sometimes I have been asked what is the most interesting thing I have ever learned in a workplace environment. Far and above, the answer is ‘how to lift a sheep’. My first role in human services was a sole practice, domestic and family violence counselling position in the NSW Outback. After weeks of trying to encourage remote communities to come along to a domestic violence community education session, without luck- I decided to try a new approach. I teamed up with a physiotherapist and together we advertised a session on ‘back care for farmers’. Suddenly the seats were full, and we had an audience that traditional recruitment methods weren’t bringing. Communities got their domestic and family violence session; victims and survivors found out about our services – and I learned how to lift a sheep. This experience has stayed with me, because it reminds me to collaborate, innovate, and work with communities to find and provide what they need. It is also evidence that clinical issues occur within broad, social and political contexts. Sometimes we begin with that context and work inward- other times, we start with what’s in front of us in the counselling room, following threads into structural issues. Finally, it reminds me of the incredible work being done in remote and regional Australia. Here’s to all the isolated and sole practitioners out there, lifting sheep.

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