Deborah’s early career was in Community-Based Child Care where she developed an interest in working not only with children but with their families. This led to Deborah’s decision to study Social Work. Deborah graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of South Australia in 1996 and has worked with children and their families in in a variety of Government, non-Government and private services; in Social Work, therapeutic and management roles.
For 4 years during her study and after graduating, Deborah worked with adolescents who were experiencing homelessness. Deborah found that most young people wished that they still lived at home, but had just wanted the adverse events at home to stop. This led to her decision to move into the areas of Reunification and Placement Prevention with birth families whose children were either in Foster Care or Residential Care, or at risk of being taken into Care. Deborah worked for the following 6 years with Anglicare’s Reunification and Placement Prevention programs supporting parents to address the issues that were affecting their children’s safety. Issues included complex childhood trauma, violence, poor mental health and substance misuse. In 2005 Deborah moved into private practice and became an associate of Connecting Families, broadening her work to include therapeutic work with Foster Carers and children in their care. This work involved supporting Foster Carers to provide trauma informed care and supporting children with the effects of trauma. Deborah has developed several individual Life Story books to help children’s identity development and understanding of why they are in care.
Whilst working in Connecting Families, Deborah also worked part-time for 14 years as a therapist in the Mary Street Adolescent Sexual Abuse Prevention Program. The program provided therapy to adolescents who had behaved in sexually abusive ways, to enable them to take responsibility for their behavior and offer restoration to those they had hurt. Many of the adolescents had special needs and were also involved in the juvenile justice system. The therapeutic work also involved the adolescent’s family who often faced the complexity of supporting both the adolescent who had offended and the child or children that had been hurt. During this period, Deborah was also contracted by Life Without Barriers and Anglicare’s Therapeutic Foster Care Program as a therapist working with Foster Carers and children in their care.
Deborah approaches her work with the view that children are part of a family, that are part of a community, that sit within a wider socio-political context, which all needs to be taken into consideration when working with a child and their family. Deborah also believes that the best place for children to raised is with their families, if enough safety can be built, and that children and their families can overcome adverse events when supported to access their personal strengths and ethics, to heal, and be connected in their community. Deborah is committed to working with children who are vulnerable to ensure safety, stability and permanency in their lives and to experience safe and positive relationships. Deborah believes that fairness, collaboration and the building of partnerships with families and services to be essential in achieving this.
Deborah maintains a commitment to ongoing professional development in the areas of attachment, trauma, and parenting. Deborah’s practice is primarily informed by her training in Narrative Therapy, Signs of Safety, Partnering for Safety, Life Story Work, Resolutions, Invitations to Responsibility, and the Safe and Together Institute. Deborah has a Certificate in Family Therapy (Narrative Therapy) and is currently participating in training and supervision through Partnering for Safety in Perth and Secure Start in Adelaide.