By Carla Varua Rodriguez
I am a Social Work student completing the Bachelor of Social Work at Western Sydney University and on my final year placement at The Deli Women’s and Children’s Service.
As my placement completion date approaches, I have been able to reflect on my experience at The Deli fondly. I was motivated to choose a domestic violence placement from my lived experience and wanted to pay forward the services I’ve received in the past. The Deli has been an incredibly rewarding second placement to my studies and I strongly recommend The Deli as a final placement choice. The Deli has not only been invaluable in the workplace knowledge and practice, but its culture.
At The Deli, I have received a generous welcome from the team with ample opportunity to observe and apply my learning into a practical space. The Deli eased me into the therapeutic service through observing parenting appointments, therapeutic domestic violence counselling and the DV Support Group. Following my increased familiarity with the service, The Deli provided an opportunity to further build upon a person-centred, strengths-based and feminist approach by allowing students to independently conduct intake appointments to strengthen the students ability to assess/triage if they fit into The Deli’s service delivery model, efficiently allocate the client to the counsellor who can best support their concerns and goals or refer onto other services in the community. Placement students also provide casework to clients that are re-engaging or transitioning out of The Deli’s services which allows for students to familiarise themself with the Eastern Suburbs Domestic Violence Network and referral services whilst building rapport with The Deli’s clients. Additionally, I have been given the opportunity to counsel clients with supervision, which unfortunately did not progress to an independent case load due to the high complexity of the engaging clients at The Deli.
In addition, I believe one of The Deli’s strengths as an organisation is the workplace culture. The domestic violence field holds significant vicarious trauma for human service workers and oftentimes this allows for dynamics similar but not limited to parallel processes. However, despite the high propensity for this outcome, The Deli holds a safe space for its workers and their own concerns, whether that is through internal/external supervision or clinical team meetings. In my time as a placement student, I have felt clinically and emotionally supported by the entirety of the multi-disciplinary team. I believe each worker holds a safe space for one another, which allows for the team to focus upon maintaining the highest degree of empathy and compassion for their clients, to walk alongside their healing journey and advocate for their safety and wellbeing.
I have enjoyed my time here and found it so valuable that I will continue to volunteer at The Deli in 2024 working with the Therapeutic and Client Experience teams in supporting our clients on their healing journey.