Counsellors empower individuals, strengthen communities

The most effective counselling has the power to have a positive ripple effect and goes beyond the individual client to empower families and communities.

From working to prevent gender-based violence in Lae to delivering counselling support at the community level in Sandaun Province or in the private sector in West New Britain, it is agreed the best counselling both empowers the client and has a positive impact in the broader community.

This was one of the key messages of Papua New Guinean professionals who recently completed a Graduate Certificate in Counselling, awarded by Griffith University in Australia under the Australia Awards Short Course program.

“In the past, they [clients] depended more on the counsellors to tell them what to do,” says participant Claire August, who supports employees and their families as a counsellor at Hargy Oil Palms in West New Britain.

“There has been a gradual shift from a dependency situation to one of more independence and empowerment to manage their issues in finding solutions.

“Some of the people I have trained are more confident now to help people… [and] some of the community helpers are even encouraging others in the community to get help from the counsellors.

“I’m optimistic that through networking and partnerships, the work of counselling can be promoted and used both at the community and national level.”

Fellow participant Wilson Wilo is a Welfare and Protection Officer with the Sandaun Provincial Administration in the Aitape-Lumi district.

Wilo says the Australia Awards short course enabled him to become a critical thinker and pose questions to understand a client’s underlying feelings as well as the external issues at play.

Since completing the short course, Wilo has attended a gender-based violence training course to share his skills and experiences with other professionals. Wilo is also able to draw on a set of counselling cards outlining tips and techniques that participants produced during the short course.

“With the consent of the client, I also invite my fellow counsellors to sit down with me and observe a session, so I can share my approach with them.”

Wilo is also planning a three-day substance abuse prevention workshop for young people as part of short course work-based project.

Sharing skills and supporting communities over the long-term is also a priority for Wendy Tame, Manager and Counsellor at the Women’s Refuge Home in Lae.

Tame signed up for the short course to develop her skills in handling sensitive gender-based violence cases.

“The course fitted well with my needs,” she said.

“Since completing my studies, I have been sharing what I learnt with my colleagues and now I can see a change in our work. We are working more efficiently in managing our own work as well as our clients.”

(Wendy Tame during the Graduate Certificate in Counselling post course)

Press release