Social Work Advisory Board

Comprising members of industry and Deakin representatives, our Social Work Advisory Board contributes to the ongoing evolution of our courses, ensuring students gain knowledge of contemporary social work practice.

Industry members

Dr Nick Halfpenny (Chair)

Director Policy and Research, MacKillop Family Services

Dr Nick Halfpenny is the Director of Policy and Research with MacKillop Family Services. Since graduating as a social worker, Nick has practised in child and family services for over 21 years in the areas of research, quality, advocacy and practice and policy development.

Nick and his team seek to improve outcomes for children, young people and families by investigating and evaluating new ways of working, advocating for social policy change and measuring the impact of services and supports. Nick has also worked in the fields of international development, policy and program development and consumer advocacy.

Karen Todd

Manager, Social Work, Barwon Health

Karen has worked at Barwon Health since 2003 in a number of roles, initially as a clinical social worker and now as the manager of the Social Work Department. She worked with the Regional Integrated Cancer Service with local/regional cancer support groups and on another occasion as Barwon Health's manager of volunteers and community participation, establishing a platform within Barwon Health for consumer participation.

Her professional life prior to joining Barwon Health was as manager of social work at Austin Health, coordinator of the Living With Cancer Education Program with the Cancer Council of Victoria and prior as a clinical social worker at the then Repatriation Hospital.

Her clinical areas of interest have been in working with people with cancer and their families. Karen has professional management qualifications with a Master of Human Service Management (Social Work) and has gained practical leadership experience through her various roles. She worked as the senior social work clinician in cancer and acute medical/surgical services, at Barwon Health for 10-plus years leading the acute social work team.

A founding member of Oncology Social Work Australia, 2007 to present and a long-term member of Cancer Social Work Victoria AASW (1996 to today), chair of Barwon Health’s Vulnerable Children Advisory Group, member of the Family Violence task force, member of Barwon Health Aboriginal Advisory Gathering, a current member of the Health Directors of Social Work Group (AASW) and long-term member of the Australian Association of Social Workers, 1990 to present. Karen has been working as a social worker for 27 years.

Francis Broekman

CEO, Brophy Family and Youth Services

Francis has been the CEO of Brophy Family and Youth Services since 1995 and has been intricately involved in the out of home care service system for over 30 years. He established the ACP Program across southwest Victoria in the early 1990s, and his expertise lies in his understanding of the obstacles in service model development and delivery from a rural perspective and potential opportunities.

He worked as a practitioner in child protection, foster care and adolescent community placement programs in the late 1980s and his passion and knowledge were grounded by his work in the western suburbs of Melbourne.

Francis is currently on the Board of the Beyond the Bell Governance Group and has also served on the board of Southwest Health Care, Centre for Excellence and the Rotary Club of Warrnambool.  He was a member of the Ministerial Advisory Council into Homelessness and was involved in establishing the Youth Foyer in Warrnambool and the Community and Youth Complex.

Kate Davidson

Director – Wonderkind & Co

Kate initially completed her BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice in Queensland, Australia, and was fortunate to be part of the Missions Australia Pathways to Prevention Project. Inspired by the social workers, Kate gravitated towards social work after supporting the evaluation of a multi-cultural Triple P playgroup.  Kate returned to Melbourne and completed her social work degree in two years, obtaining positions following both student placements in the adoption and permanent care and private psychiatric hospitals sectors.

In 2005, Kate acquired her dream job of becoming a criminal justice social worker in the southwest Edinburgh, Scotland.  She specialised in supporting young offenders and was part of the working team from the City of Edinburgh Council and the Scottish Government to transition 16- and 17-year-old young people back into the Children’s Hearing System and out of the Criminal Justice System.  During this time, Kate transitions to become a senior social worker for the young peoples services, supporting staff and leading portfolios linked to positive parenting, program development, and initiatives focused around deferment for good behaviour to allow the opportunity for voluntary engagement and support the progressive pre-referral screening Early and Effective Intervention program, working in collaboration with council, police and community to reduce offending and recidivism.  Kate also chaired the risk management case conferences. She undertook additional training as a mental health officer, working alongside consultant psychiatrists, the mental health tribunal and community health teams to assess the need for and risk for compulsory treatment orders in the community and forensic sectors.

Kate returned to Australia after 14 years and commenced employment in the out-of-home care sector, supporting young people, carers, staff and parents in both the residential care and foster care spaces.  During her time as principal practitioner, in addition to managing clinical support for two regional areas, Kate worked closely with Deakin University to set up a student unit and supported two research evaluations. Kate is passionate about student development after such positive experiences and has supported student development since 2008.

During COVID, Kate decided to transition into private practice and was accredited as a mental health social worker with the AASW.  The aim was to set up trauma-informed services that could meaningfully engage clients with higher level complexity, where relational, paced, experiential and informed approaches were available.  Kate is the Director of Wonderkind & Co, where she supports a therapeutic community of 30-plus clinicians that offer a range of therapeutic services to a vast array of clients in the region.  Kate specialises in supporting clients of all ages to navigate through healing from exposure to life adversity, where a trauma impact has been experienced. Kate, is the clinical advisor on the Meli Foster Care Accreditation Panel, supporting the regional growth and development of Theraplay.

Belinda Payne

Project Manager – Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative

Belinda is a Yorta Yorta woman who is second generation stolen.  Belinda is the General Manager of Family and Community Services at Gunditjmara Aboriginal Cooperative.  For the last 10 years, she has worked in Aboriginal Community-Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) in various roles, most recently in crisis response, safety, and healing for those impacted by family violence. With a postgraduate diploma in management and family therapy (Indigenous), she works to provide a culturally safe environment for mob, her workplace, and her three children.

Bec Wilkin

Executive Manager – Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre

Bec is the Acting Executive Manager of Client Services at The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre. Bec has worked in the community services sector for the past 18 years. During this time, Bec has worked across multiple fields, including sexual and family violence, counselling, child and family services, homelessness and disability services. During her career,  Bec has developed an interest in working with women and children, particularly those impacted by sexual and family violence.
Bec holds a Bachelor of Social Science (Social Welfare) and a Bachelor of Social Work. Bec is currently completing the Master of Leadership in Human Services.

Bec has been employed by The Sexual Assault & Family Violence Centre (SAFV Centre) since 2018 and has held leadership roles within the organisation since 2020. The SAFV Centre provides a range of specialist support services to people impacted by sexual and family violence, encompassing 24-hour crisis response, case management, therapeutic counselling and group programs, early intervention programs, refuge and housing support, legal services, victims of crime support, professional training, and primary prevention initiatives.

Natalie Jeremias

Manager Social Work and Counselling – South West Healthcare

Since obtaining her social work degree from the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in 2005, Natalie has accrued a wealth of experience in the field, including extensive international experience in Johannesburg, London, Scotland, and regional Australia. With over 15 years of expertise in frontline child protection services, she has seen first-hand the transformative power of early intervention in the lives of vulnerable children.

She has over 10 years of experience leading multidisciplinary and social work teams and exemplifies an authentic leadership style grounded in social work values. Natalie manages the South West Health Care Social Work and Counselling Department, the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Program, and the Settlement Engagement and Transition Support Program. She chairs the Child and Family Safety Committee at South West Health Care and is a member of the Health Directors of Social Work Group (AASW) and an AASW member.

Renee Callander

Renee has completed a Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Learning and Development.

Deakin members

Professor Beth Crisp, Discipline Lead, Social Work, Deputy Head of School, School of Health & Social Development

Professor Jenny Watts, Head of School, School of Health and Social Development

Associate Professor Sophie Goldingay, Course Director, Bachelor of Social Work

Associate Professor Priscilla Dunk-West, Social Work Liaison, Course Director, Master of Social Work

Dr James Lucas, Course Director, Bachelor of Social Work (Honours)

Jesse Ivelja, NIKERI

Dr Sevi Vassos, Academic Lead of Field Education

Student representatives

Habib Raoofi

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