Bachelor of Laws and Legal Practice (Honours) - Flinders University - conferred 2002
Master of Social Work - The University of Melbourne - expected completion mid-2019
Practising family lawyer: Alderman Redman (2002 - 2007), Robinson & Mason (2007 - 2010)
Hello! I'm Rachel.
I provide compassion fatigue guidance to helping professionals so that they can best serve those they help, and still have energy for their own lives.
I'm an enrolled Master of Social Work student and recovering divorce lawyer.
I love social work’s emphasis on a multidimensional approach – the recognition that a person is inseparable from their environment. The world of social work recognises that our ‘inner world’ influences, and is influenced by, our ‘outer world’ – everything is intersecting and overlapping. Nothing occurs in a vacuum.
By studying part-time, I’ve certainly taken the long way around – but along that way I’ve found my niche. At the beginning of 2014, a friend shared an article with me about lawyers experiencing secondary trauma. I had an immediate and visceral reaction: This is a thing. I couldn’t believe I’d never heard of this before. My next thought: People need to be talking about this. Who is talking about this?
I happily tumbled down a researching rabbit hole, immersing myself in the literature to learn as much as possible about compassion fatigue, vicarious trauma and burnout. I found that the research supported my instinctual assessment: yes, this really is a thing.
And I knew I’d found my path.
Helping work matters
I believe that those who spend their hours helping are doing critically important work – work that contributes to others in ways that are genuinely meaningful, often during difficult times and in trying circumstances.
And helping professionals happen to be some of my favourite people.
I know first-hand how enormously rewarding helping work can be. I also know the shadow side; that there is a cost to caring. People often still ask me about my former life as a divorce lawyer. When I’m being flippant, I say that family law ‘broke my heart and ate my soul’. Truth is, that glib statement is probably more accurate than I care for it to be. I want it to be different for other helpers.
Helping work can be isolating. It deals with aspects of life many people prefer to avoid. It can be difficult to describe what it is we do, and to determine whom we can safely talk about it with. Friends and family often don’t understand, and don’t want to know – it’s too much. Colleagues can be wonderful supports, but other times they are too distracted to give us their attention, or sharing deteriorates into a mutual dumping fest, or whatever you’re dealing with is simply deemed par for the course - it’s not enough.
I believe helping professionals are deserving of their own dedicated support.
A few random things about me
Reading and deep conversation sustain me. You’ll also find me doing yoga, visiting my local market, hunkering down in my local cinema, or at one of the many talks I eagerly attend, ever curious to know more about the world and others’ experiences. If you rifle through my bag, you will always find a book, a pencil case full of favourite pens, and at least one red lipstick.
I grew up on a farm outside a town of only a few hundred people. I currently live in Melbourne, Australia, where I ride around on a white bicycle with a basket. Though I prefer cities, I do miss vast skies of stars.
I am ridiculously afraid of chickens. And ships. But I will not shy away from hard emotions – or capturing spiders (to release back outside, of course).
I love the sound and smell of Formula One cars, the ocean, and rain.
Home to me is piles of books, a cosy sofa, a haphazard collection of mugs and tea, a KitchenAid mixer and large enamel pot at the ready, always with music (or perhaps a podcast) on the speakers.
When I travel, my favourite thing is to wander without plan, finding beauty (and the bookstores).
I believe the way forward is with a broken heart. I believe self-compassion is the best self-help. I believe the answer to everything is Love.
Thank you for stopping by.