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Accredited Clinical Social Worker & Women’s Rights Advocate

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Keely is an Accredited Clinical Social Worker, holding a Masters of Advanced Social Work.

She is also a graduate of Harvard Medical Schools Global Mental Health: Trauma Recovery Masters certificate program.

Current Work:

From a young age, Keely was always drawn to being of service to others. After experiencing childhood adversity and sexual violence, it became her personal mission to break the cycle of dysfunction and create a career that made a positive difference in how to work with and support people from all walks of life.

Keely identifies as an Indigenous Australian, coming from a long linage of Palawa people. Her family history consists of intergenerational trauma, which has resulted in incidences of family violence, imprisonment, mental health, and problematic substance use issues.

Being a Social Worker has allowed Keely to analyze and critically reflect on the connection between personal and societal influences. For Keely, understanding how and why trauma is transmitted through generations has created a true sense of compassion towards herself and others. Through developing an in-depth understanding of notions surrounding critical thinking, human rights, and post-traumatic growth, it became clear that no one could be immune to life tragedies. By acknowledging the power of deconstructing people’s trauma stories, it was not surprising to uncover the universal connection of suffering that makes us all simply human.

Previous Experience:
Keely’s background as an allied health professional and personal lived experiences, have allowed her to develop a successful innovative small business as a critical, person-centred private practitioner predominantly under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Keely specializes in providing advanced trauma-informed care from a multidimensional approach, which recognizes people’s inner and outer worlds to achieve holistic wellbeing. Keely employs integrative psychotherapeutic methods, interpersonal neurobiology, and mindfulness-based embodiment practices, as well as psychosocial education tools, to assist with facilitating a gradual healing process that helps free the body and the mind from debilitating symptoms of trauma. Keely believes in the power of creative expression and movement to assist with reconnecting to the spiritual, emotional, and mental self, in order to relieve stress and improve body awareness.
Keely is passionate about supporting women and men who struggle with emotional distress as a result of trauma. However, Keely is particularly interested in exploring the impacts of sexual violence on the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our communities, which she feels is a largely unaddressed, crisis of epidemic proportion. This tends to be specific to women who experience disability, psychosocial disability, mental health issues, indigenous people, non-English speaking, from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
Keely has over 15 years of experience in supporting people with disabilities both voluntarily and professionally. Starting as a peer support person at 14 years old, Keely worked alongside young men with Downs Syndrome, before facilitating an inclusive dance school with the assistance of her mother in their rural community-based in Tasmania, Australia. During her senior secondary certificate, Keely majored in Sociology and Psychology, as well as the performing arts. This allowed her to develop a career as a disability support worker whilst she obtained her Bachelor of Social Work, working within residential and learning and lifestyle centers.
During her undergraduate degree, Keely traveled internationally, where she spent time volunteering in Kenya supporting children with disabilities and internally displaced people in rural and remote communities. Keely also volunteered with several organizations, including Headspace and United Synergies as a peer mentor, Young Buddies refugee support group as a community educator and advocate, as well as being an active campaigner for social and environmental change initiatives. Keely’s global travels led her to live in Sweden, volunteering with refugees and working as an Equine Therapy assistant as well as with young diverse families. After graduating with her Bachelors, Keely commenced a career within clinical and community-based mental health services, before pursuing post-graduate qualifications.

Current Work:
Keely’s continuing professional development training and drive to excel in her chosen field, led her to become a trauma specialist who utilizes eco feminist psychology and anti-oppressive ideologies to guide her practice. Keely continues to pursue her passions as a therapist and advocate, whilst she completes a Doctorate in Philosophy, aiming to become a professor and global practice leader. Keely has appeared in ABC articles to discuss the impacts of sexual violence, as well as consulting with That’s Life Magazine to assist with raising awareness of abuse and give survivors a safe platform to share their stories. Keely is also a keynote speaker for LGPro Women’s Network 2021 conference and is a confident public speaker at various events surrounding political movements

Talking Points

Lived experiences tell us a tale but are we really listening?

Approximately one billion people have been affected by the ramifications of trauma. It has taken scientists over three decades to highlight the extreme levels of emotional damage and distress associated with mass violence and disasters. Each year, millions of people are suffering from mental health issues, including problematic substance use, with future projections expected to rise. The notion of trauma needs to be understood by applying a multidimensional lens when exploring people’s inner and outer worlds. Trauma-informed care provides an opportunity to listen to people's stories and apply evidence-based knowledge to co-facilitate the healing process. It is time that we started to listen to people's lived experiences and apply a human-rights agenda to tackle the enigma of collective violence. We need to implement a radically new model of care to restore the well-being of millions of people whose lives are disrupted by trauma.

This is for: This presentation is most appropriate for adult audiences in the health and human rights sectors or leaders in any industry interested in learning about this subject matter. It is best suited for an open-minded audience who is willing to have preconceived ideas and understandings challenged surrounding what is perceived as mental illness. This presentation comes with a trigger warning due to the nature of the subject matter.

3 key takeaways:
- Understanding the importance of the trauma story and how lived experiences shape normal distress responses.
- Analysing the effects of trauma from a multidimensional approach and how to employ evidence-based knowledge when supporting traumatised persons based on the global mental health action plan.
- Utilising trauma-informed care in practice and how to co-facilitate the healing process to end systematic oppression.

What is psychosocial disability? A critical social work enquiry

Psychosocial disability has been described as one of the most challenging and misunderstood areas of disability. With the emergence of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the term psychosocial disability was brought to life in the Australian context. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability adopted the term psychosocial disability to describe the experience of people with impairments and participation restrictions related to mental health conditions. Understanding the conceptualisation of psychosocial disability will allow for a critical appraisal to problematise gaps, constructions and contradictions of issues relevant to the intersection between mental-ill health and disability. Persons with psychosocial disability often face extreme forms of marginalisation, stigma and discrimination and it is important that professionals are adequately equipped with specialist knowledge when supporting this population group.

This is for: This presentation is targeted at health professionals, inclusive of support persons, in the medical, mental health and disability sectors. It is designed to provide psychosocial education from a critical social work perspective and demonstrate relevant tools to support persons with psychosocial disabilities. The aim of the presentation is to recognise the social changes required to address the ongoing issues people with psychosocial disabilities face and how health professionals can advocate for their rights.

3 key takeaways:
- An increased understanding of the conceptualisation of psychosocial disability from a critical social work perspective that aims to break down ingrained stigma and discrimination.
- Providing ethical ways to advocate for social change initiatives.
- Working with the human condition to break down barriers and address unmet needs.

How to respond to disclosures of sexual violence

Within Australia, approximately 2.2 million women and 718,000 men have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime. Issues surrounding sexual violence require a thorough critical examination of the social and cultural influences on human life and activities. This workshop will aim to equip professionals with appropriate ways to respond to disclosures of sexual violence from theoretical and practical perspectives. Themes relating to supportive, reflective practice are then outlined along with issues relating to liaising with services, families and carers. Utilising appropriate therapeutic modalities will be an integral part of this workshop, as well as discussing self-care practices to manage vicarious trauma.

This is for: This is a professional development workshop designed to enhance knowledge on responding to disclosures of sexual violence from the perspective of a lived experience practitioner. Evidence-based guidance on offering support will provide professionals with the skills required to work with traumatised persons, in addition to developing an in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural dimensions underlying this phenomenon. This workshop includes a case study analysis and provides appropriate resources inclusive of assessment, treatment plans and referral pathways.

3 key takeaways:
- Provide supportive practices for responding to disclosures of sexual violence
- Role play of responding to a disclosure of sexual violence
- Discussion on how to use the trauma story assessment tool in practice
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