Mackenzie Purcell

Mackenzie Purcell, 2 June, 2022

Fourth year Justice student Mackenzie Purcell recently undertook a 10 week professional placement at Micah Projects, working within the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service. The experience proved to be so valuable that it helped Mackenzie decide on her desired career path when she graduates at the end of the year.

While working at Michah Projects, Mackenzie had the opportunity to help perpetrators and victims of domestic violence and this led to a part-time role as High-Risk Team (HRT) program assistant.

Here she talks about her experience working in domestic violence and her aspirations for the future.

My study at QUT:

I am currently studying a Bachelor of justice at QUT majoring in Criminology and Policing and completing a second major in Psychology. This is my fourth year of study and will be graduating at the end of this year – 2022. I chose QUT because of the justice course delivery which had subjects that interested me the most, the excellent campus which was easily accessible and close to home and its emphasis on practical learning. One of the most beneficial aspects of my degree has been undergoing my professional placement as it has set me up for my career and work post university. There were some great placements on offer from QUT in a variety of areas, and I would strongly encourage everyone to undergo a placement if they can throughout their degree. I believe it is highly beneficial to gain new opportunities and experiences in the real world and open future career pathways.

Can you tell me about your professional placements while studying?

I completed my professional placement in the third year of my degree at Micah Projects, working within the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) which focuses on providing safety for women and children of male domestic and family violence offenders. I attended placement one day a week for 10 weeks, which was very reasonable to manage while studying and working. I specifically got to work with and help coordinate the Men’s Domestic Violence Offender Program (MDVOP) which is a 16-week mandated group program for men who are using violence. It works to provide a safer community by holding men accountable for their behaviour and providing them with the opportunity to commence the process of change through weekly group sessions. The work I undertook included completing risk assessments, offender profiles, progress reports and exit reports for offenders on the program. I really enjoyed the practicality and hands on approach of the placement as it gave me a real understanding of what working in the Justice field could feel like, post-graduation.

Why do you think placements are so important when studying Justice?

I believe professional placements are very important to give students the opportunity to experience the justice field and its realities in the workforce. It also gives students an insight into future pathways and the opportunity to meet new people and create contacts within your potential career field which is highly beneficial for personal and professional growth.

What did you get out of your placement?

When I started my degree, I didn’t know what I wanted to do as a career, I only knew I was interested in the justice field and wanted to do something that was going to help others. This placement opportunity has opened a career path that I didn’t know existed or was possible for me to pursue. It also gave me a greater understanding of other careers in the industry such as working in the police force, within the courts and corrections.

Has your placement helped you decide the career path you want to take?

My placement has absolutely helped me decide the career path I want to take. It has sparked my interest to help victims of family domestic violence and work within the domestic violence sector. This is an area I had never considered or thought I would go into in the past, however, my experience has exceeded my expectations and provided me with new direction.

What were some highlights?

A highlight from my placement was getting to meet and work with the team in the office. Hearing everyone’s career stories and views on working to prevent domestic violence was insightful and encouraging. Another highlight was being able to observe the MDVOP. Getting to see how facilitators engaged and questioned offenders regarding certain topics and how the participants responded was fascinating and hopeful that a rehabilitative approach to reducing violence is effective and has great potential.

What did you learn?

I developed a greater understanding about Micah Projects and how different sectors of the organisation and partnering agencies work together to make a safer community and implement plans in improve the wellbeing of others. I learnt how to assess and identify the risk of domestic violence for both victims and perpetrators, particularly future high risk DV factors and indicators. I also learnt how to manage confronting information, particularly how to disconnect work from home life and the importance of a good support network which I believe is a valuable life skill for any job.

Did doing a placement open any further opportunities?

Upon completion of my placement, I was offered the opportunity to continue in the same role I was in but as a volunteer with BDVS. I did three days of volunteer work when a program assistant role came up in the office, which I was encouraged to apply for by fellow workers in the office. I ended up getting the role as the High-Risk Team (HRT) program assistant which I am now doing three and a half days per week. This role has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the different roles and responsibilities and how we BDVS, communicate with different agencies, working together to reduce a women’s risk of domestic violence by improving other protective factors.

What are your future goals?

At this point in time, my goal is to continue in my current role as HRT program assistant for the remainder of the year whilst I finish my final subjects at uni. Whilst I am working in this role, Micah Projects has provided me with the opportunity to shadow a women’s court support worker, BDVS intake workers, and BDVS women’s advocate workers on outreach which will allow to gain a better understanding of each role and what I am most interested in going into full time next year.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)/ Bachelor of Justice

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Mackenzie Purcell

Mackenzie Purcell

Bachelor of Justice (Criminology and Policing)/Bachelor of Behavioural Science (Psychology)

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