Sharmaine Williams is a proud Aboriginal woman from the Gunggari and Bidjara people of Central Queensland. She spent her early childhood growing up in several urban, rural and remote communities within central and coastal Queensland. Her connections to her family, community and her culture are significant to Sharmaine in terms of her own sense of identity and belonging. Sharmaine also has strong ties to several communities within the Northern Territory and it has been through her broad geographical experiences, her strong connections to culture and community and the significant relationships that she has built that she has been able to gain a greater awareness, understanding and appreciation of the diversity within and amongst Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the ongoing challenges and disadvantages they face daily. Sharmaine is passionate about raising better awareness and understanding of the ongoing complexities and issues relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and their communities and influencing positive change. She is also particularly motivated and enthusiastic about empowering and improving the lives, the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, their families and their communities.
Sharmaine has a diploma in Narrative Approaches in Counselling. She has been able to apply these skills that she has gained to build better and healthier and more respectful trustworthy relationships with her clients, their families and the community. Sharmaine has recognized the benefits of this therapeutic approach in terms of promoting self-determination and empowerment which have been fundamental factors to engaging young people, their families and communities to take responsibility for their behavior and making positive changes to their lives and their relationships with others.
Sharmaine is enrolled at the University of Adelaide studying a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences. Her decision to study psychology has been heavily influenced by her experience working within a specialized forensic mental health team and identifying the disparities within mental health assessment tools and culture and the impact this has on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities and their willingness to engage with services. Sharmaine is passionate about developing and implementing more culturally appropriate mental health assessment tools, training and development that influence policy, service delivery and successful outcomes.
Sharmaine has worked in various Public Service organisations over a period of 21 years in portfolios such as Health, Child Protection, Child & Adolescent Mental Health, Juvenile Justice and Housing SA. Sharmaine has also been a valuable member of the (Mary Street Team), Adolescent Sexual Abuse Prevention Program (ASAPP) for 13 years. Her role and experience has helped young people and their families to step into a position of taking responsibility and making restitution and restoration for the harm they have caused others.
Sharmaine has completed the Tracy Westermann Mental Health Suicide and Prevention training. This training has provided Sharmaine with better cultural understandings and considerations to assessing mental health and wellbeing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and given Sharmaine a platform to build on culturally appropriate frameworks and models of care.
Sharmaine is an active and value member of her Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities. She understands the importance and benefits of being involved and is seen as positive role model for other Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Sharmaine is also a kinship carer. She has been providing respite for young people in out of home care for approximately twelve years. It has been through her personal commitment as a kinship carer and her professional involvement with DCP that Sharmaine has been able to develop better knowledge and understanding and a greater appreciation for the importance of working in collaboration with DCP and other relevant services. Sharmaine also recognizes and emphasizes the importance and benefits of the kinship systems and the role and responsibility it plays in terms of working respectfully and collaboratively to address the issue of child protection. Her strengths lie within promoting better cultural consideration and understanding, relationships, growth and empowerment. These have been fundamental aspects to Sharmaine’s work as a therapist.
Sharmaine joined Connecting Families as an associate in 2021. Sharmaine is passionate about working with families to build their coping capacities in life, and to improve the connection and relationship between children and their parents and caregivers, using a range of therapeutic models. Sharmaine brings with her a wealth of cultural knowledge and experience. Her passion, motivation and enthusiasm for change is second to none.