Ursula is passionate about human rights and social justice. She began her career in the disability sector and moved into Community Health, delivering counselling and advocacy services to those most disadvantaged in the community. Ursula’s special interest in family violence and sexual assault developed early in her career as she witnessed how many women and children were affected by these crimes. Ursula developed and ran domestic violence support groups for many years in conjunction with providing individual counselling to people affected by family violence and sexual assault.
Throughout her career progression in the community sector into Clinical Supervisor and management roles, Ursula began to notice the impacts of assisting trauma survivors on workers. A large portion of Ursula’s private consulting work today is helping organisations to introduce trauma informed practices that educate and support staff around issues of understanding the causes of gendered violence, vicarious traumatisation, managing complex client presentations and that build resilience in work places and individual workers. Examples of this work are a model of induction training followed by regular staff group debriefing in the community and government legal sectors.
A theme Ursula noticed early on in her career was that early victimisation often created a vulnerability to revictimization. Ursula was not the only one in the counselling room to notice this phenomenon. Clients regularly despaired about repeated experiences of abuse in their lives. It was the desire to offer a non-blaming way of understanding revictimization to women that led to the creation of Ursula’s Shark Cage Framework and the subsequent development of the Shark Cage training for workers and the publication of her article and book. Some examples of Ursula’s diverse speaking, facilitation, training, supervision and debriefing work are given below:
- Coordinator and lecturer in a post graduate Sexual Assault & Family violence unit at Victoria University
- Training and debriefing services for a large number of community and government legal services in Victoria, Australia
- Training, supervision and facilitation services to a number of Family Violence services in Victoria, Australia
- Shark Cage training to family violence, family support, counselling and general support services in Australia, Fiji and Vanuatu
- Development and delivery of a national webinar series about Childhood Sexual Assault for the Australian Psychological Society
- A presenter in a Complex Trauma Webinar delivered by the Mental Health Practitioners Network
- Guest speaker on Radio Australia regarding Violence Against Women In the South Pacific region
- Guest speaker on Triple J regarding disclosures of sexual assault
- Speaker at Australia’s first Slut Walk in 2011
- Interview with ABC television regarding sexual assault and its prevalence
- Key note speaker at a number of conferences and 16 days of activism against gender based violence events across Australia