Dr Venkat Pulla, Principal, Social Work and Capacity Development Consulting; President, Brisbane Institute of Strengths Based Practice; National Nominee of Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) for Accreditation of Departments of Social Work and Human Services of Australian Universities; 2005-2008 Convenor, International Social Work Interest Group, AASW (QLD).
Venkat is a Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Social Worker, a Tata Dorabji Scholar and has a doctorate in the field of Community Development obtained In India. His work life includes positions as Head of the Social Work Department at the Northern Territory University, Darwin for three years and 15 years in India in Teaching and Training at the College of Social Work, Hyderabad, and Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies, Osmania University. He has recognition in areas of training for performance measures, quality, change management, strength based child protection, family directed practice, trauma torture counselling and refugee resettlement. His policy consulting included health policy, urbanisation, poverty alleviation, social infrastructures, disability and aged care, wage reform, employee strategies, and industrialisation.
His life has been an incredible journey. It has savoured vignettes at the coal face in human services as well as offered him stints of consulting to Indiaís National Commission on Urbanisation, set up by Rajeev Gandhi, a visionary Prime Minister. It threw open a travelling lectureship around the USA, Europe and Asia and brought in consulting opportunities with federal and state departments and international non-government organisations such as ICCO, Memisa and HIVOS from the Netherlands, BFW and EZE from Germany, OXFAM and ODA from the United Kingdom and UNICEF amongst others. As one of the pioneers in strength based practice, he offers professional supervision, process facilitation for managing change and wide ranging assistance to the not-for-profit sector and organisational development. The Brisbane Institute for Strengths Based Practice (Inc) and its founding project Strength Based Strategies 2006 are Venkatís initiatives. Venkat can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Montgomery has worked in the field of intellectual disability for the last 17 years. For the last 9 of these years he has become known and respected both nationally and internationally for his work convening the annual Sharing the Road conference for disability support workers in Queensland. Currently he is volunteering with the Ethnic Community Councils of Queensland to assist with the development of strategies to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS amongst men from CALD backgrounds. Chris has worked as a direct support worker, a manager of support work and most recently in the development of statewide reporting systems. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to his role as Secretary of the Strength Based Strategies Conference 2006.
Rita Kugler is a Chartered Accountant with nearly 20 years experience in the private, public and community sectors. Early in her career Rita joined the international firm KPMG where she gained valuable experience and training in auditing, systems assessment and process improvement both in Australia and USA. Managerial roles awakened in Rita the desire to increase her skills in understanding human behaviour. To this end Rita has completed Master practitioner level in Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) and other personal and group development processes. Rita is passionate about self-development and the importance of values based studies/programs in understanding and shaping behaviour. She is also passionate about raising awareness about the environmental and sustainability issues faced by our planet today. Rita was born in Argentina and migrated to Australia with her parents and sister in 1977. Rita resides in Brisbane, Queensland and is one of the founding members of the Brisbane Institute of Strengths Based Practice.
Chris Radke has worked as a support professional and manager in the field of intellectual disability support for over 20 years and has been actively involved in welfare and community support for more years than she can remember. Chris has enjoyed a number of work roles, the majority relating to direct service provision to individuals with an intellectual disability who have high and complex support needs. This included working as a manager of Accommodation Support and Respite Services, a job role which she performed for 9 years. Chris lives in Ipswich, Queensland, where she is currently working as a Project Officer for Disability Services Queensland. As such, she coordinates activities associated with facilitating best practice in the accommodation support of adults with an intellectual disability, a job role which she particularly enjoys. Chris is a founding member of the Brisbane Institute of Strengths Based Practice.
Palanichami O Thevar was born in the small village of U. Pudukkottai to an agricultural family near the Madurai district of Tamil Nadu. Palani has always been deeply impressed by the legacy of Mahatma Ghandiís work and has worked extensively in the community sector throughout India. He obtained his Masters degree in Peace Making from the Madurai Kamaraj University and completed a Master of Philosophy at Gujarat Vidyapith (founded by Ghandi in 1920). Since 1996, Palani has lived in West End, Brisbane. A proud father of 3 children, Palani has worked in Australia for the Australian Red Cross, Community Aid Abroad and in the area of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health. Presently Palani is employed by the Queensland Department of Child Safety and also works for Centrelink in the area of mental health support. Outside of his paid employment Palani is working extensively with local Tamil and Indian communities and is studying to be a social worker at The University of Queensland.
Amanda Vos has spent her professional life exploring and celebrating the diverse pathways a social work career can offer, since graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work from The University of Queensland in 2001. She has worked as a Social Worker with Centrelink, developed curriculum for life coaches and counselors, tutored undergraduate students at UQ, and just finished a two year position as the Executive Officer of the Australian Association of Social Workers (Queensland Branch), in order to develop a National Employment Service for the Association upon her return from India. Amandaís passion for creating and/or tapping into positive networks, has provided her with the opportunity to present throughout Australia and the USA, develop film and photography projects, fulfill elected roles with the Social Work and Applied Human Sciences Alumni (Immediate Past President), and become a founding member of the Brisbane Institute of Strengths Based Practice.
Duncan Williams identifies himself as an aboriginal person. 'Mura Ama Wakaana' literally means 'people working togetherí. Duncan has put together a wonderful training package that sensitises public servants in Queensland to the history of the aboriginal communities in Australia. Duncan's mother was instrumental in seeing that Duncan kept his contact with his nativity, culture and his people from his father's side. Duncan's maternal heritage is part Irish. Duncan Williams is employed as a Senior Programme Officer in the Indigenous Employment and Training Directorate, which is part of the Department of Employment and Training. Duncan is one of the founding members of the Brisbane Institute of Strengths Based Practice.