'I plan to continue to advocate for the right of people to speak for themselves...'
Bachelor of Social Work with Honours
Community Development Consultant, Christchurch
Lisa has held a passion for helping her community and for social justice since a very young age, taking part in several protests for her belief in social equality. It was later on in her life that she realised she wanted to get a degree so she could pursue a professional interest in this area and really make a difference.
‘I needed to equip myself with as much as possible to continue to battle for economic, social and political change.’
Studying Social Work at UC gave her the right experience for her chosen career. Lisa particularly enjoyed working with the lecturers, tutors and fellow students she met here, being able to discuss and challenge ideas and views, and expand on her own personal and professional knowledge.
After completing her Arts degree with first class honours, Lisa wrote two pieces of research analysing social service delivery and the issues people faced while living on the streets in inner-city Christchurch. She worked as a research co-ordinator for two years, and her contribution was incorporated into the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights.
It also led to the establishment of the Inner City Interagency Trust which aimed to improve the lifestyles of those that face difficulties on the streets. Until recently, Lisa worked as the Trust Manager, overseeing the administration and running of a local day shelter, and ‘more importantly, the development of avenues for people to speak for themselves, to identify their own needs and to assist in having those needs met.’
Called ‘Street 10’, the shelter was the first of its kind in New Zealand where the community themselves collaboratively and equally had input into both the delivery and planning of services and were represented across all aspects of the organisation. One such development was the distribution of the newsletter Word on the Street, written and designed by people experiencing homelessness, which Lisa felt passionate about.
Now, Lisa has her own private practice supervising and supporting other qualified social and community work practitioners and consulting on community development models of practice. Lisa places great importance on social service organisations having transparent, accountable, and ethical processes in place for qualified practitioners that align themselves with social work professional standards.
‘I enjoy taking the experience gained in practice and the teachings from University and supporting those practitioners who are out in the communities assisting various groups of people, often under enormous pressure in today’s economic and social climate.’
Lisa holds high hopes for her future in her career, and has set herself some challenging goals.
‘I plan to continue my private practice and to continually seek to learn and grow both personally and professionally, and to continue to advocate for the right of people to speak for themselves, to express their own needs, and for a bottom-up as opposed to top-down approach to social work and community development practice.’
She adds that the university experience is extremely helpful in developing your own ideas and equipping you to pursue any opportunity.