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Meet Rebecca!


Published on March 1, 2021

Who are you and how did you come to be at WAGEC?

My name is Rebecca Lyons and I am a registered Psychologist and Family Therapist. I have been working in this field since 1996 (with a few detours via motherhood). For the past eight years I have worked for Red Nose providing counselling and therapy to individuals and families impacted by the death of a baby or child. In my role as Senior Counsellor, I also provided clinical support to a national team of counsellors. I was completely devoted to the work and the client families and knew something really special would have to come up for me to leave.

I also run a small private practice and last year I did some work for Northern Pictures, who under the direction of Tosca Looby were producing a documentary series on domestic violence. Supporting the participants in this documentary was a rewarding experience and it enabled me to shift my focus and consider other areas of professional practice. Then towards the end of 2020 a colleague sent me the advertisement for the newly funded position of Child and Young Person Psychologist. It makes complete sense to embed free and accessible psychological services within WAGEC so mums and their children can get support easily and efficiently and I really wanted to be a part of creating this exciting new role. I applied and was interviewed by Katie Young and Meredith Turnbull and I liked them both from the moment I met them. There was a chemistry between us and I knew we would work well together and that this was the job for me.

How did you first hear about WAGEC and what was your first impression of the organisation?

I have known about WAGEC for a long time but only in a very limited way. I never really understood that WAGEC is a homelessness service and nor did I understand the extent of the homelessness crisis in Australia until I started working here. I am impressed that WAGEC is a proudly feminist organization and that they make sure these principles underscore all aspects of the service. I have also been struck by how loving my colleagues are to the children and babies in the refuges. It is a very loving environment to work in. Another first impression is that WAGEC has a really “can do” attitude. If you have a vision or an idea about something there is a wonderful colleague out there who will help you make it happen. I wish I had before and after photos of my therapy room to illustrate this point!

What key learning from working in the NGO space will you bring to your new role?

I think my experience and training as a family therapist is important. Family Therapy is a very collaborative approach where “symptomatic“ behaviour is considered within the context of family relationships and broader family and societal systems. A lot of problematic behaviour makes sense in context and understanding the context helps promote long term change.

My grief and trauma lens is also always “on”. The WAGEC families have lost so much and so many of them have experienced multiple recent and/or past traumas. Sometimes its hard to move forward while the weight of the past is weighing a person down.

My experience working with children of all ages, from birth to young adulthood is very relevant at WAGEC as we are supporting families with children of all ages. And while I often say I have a particular soft spot for new-borns, on another day I’ll tell you that pre-schoolers are my favourite age to work with or the primary school years or adolescents. Growing up is amazing and I love that my work allows me to be a part of so many beautiful families lives.

 I am grateful that I have had a varied career working within a number of settings including: with young people and their families; in a post separation service; in education both here and in Nepal; in private practice and with bereaved families. My role as Child and Young Person Psychologist utilises all of my different workplace experiences (and life experiences). It feels a bit like my entire career has been training me for this role and there is still so much for me to learn!

Who is someone that inspires you?

The mums who live in our refuges and transitional housing. They are parenting under very challenging circumstances and their love for their children and their tenacity inspires me everyday to be the best psychologist and family therapist I can be to support them on their parenting journey.

I am always inspired by the “ordinary” people who are working hard to make this world a better place. The social workers, counsellors, psychologists, nurses, teachers, doctors, environmentalists, campaigners (thank you #Stop Adani!) who devote their professional and personal lives to creating positive change. It is the power of the “ordinary“ person who changes this world for the better and keeps hope alive.