ABOUT THE ACCA

The Australian Community Counselling Association is committed to the ongoing of professional development and industry growth of the counselling sector.

The Australian Community Counselling Association is governed by voluntary Board members representing the various levels of the community and counselling industry. With each member passionate about working in the community and maintaining the ethical practice needed to provide therapeutic support to clients.

The ACCA is dedicated to seeing real change happen in our communities and seeks to enlist the support of individuals and community groups across Australia to help build a strong grassroots movement of caring focused community and counsellors who wish to help their respective local communities.

Join us in continuing to strengthen Australia’s community and counselling association.

MEET THE TEAM

Melissa Bennett - President

Melissa M Bennett has a Graduate Diploma in Community Sector Management and has trained in Counselling and Psychology, Social Science, Youth, Criminal Justice, Life Coaching, and a Cert IV in Training and Assessing.

Coming from a multi-systemic background and having sat in many different positions of senior management within the community service sector, Melissa has had the opportunity to advocate for social justice at a ministerial level, with a passion for advocating for change and creating a better system in Domestic and Family Violence.  Melissa’s core values include social responsibility, Emotional intelligence, Social learning, and Democracy and are what she strives for as being a practitioner and valued team member.

Melissa has been with ACCA since first graduating as a counsellor many years ago and with a wealth of experience in rural and remote, mental health, program facilitation, AOD, Counselling, Department of Justice and Child safety, she is excited at the opportunity to be President for an Association that supports not only Counsellors but also those working in the Community sector.

David Sweeney - Vice President

Mr David Sweeney has a HE Diploma of Counselling Skills from a leading independent provider of counselling education in Australia.  Since that time, David has established a successful private practice in the Ipswich region, seeing young people, adults, couples, and families with problems including PTSD, mood, relationship, behaviour, and work-related problems.

David is continuing his training and is currently a student at Torrens University and the Gestalt Institute, in order to gain expertise in Gestalt Therapy, a model and framework in which David is passionate about.

David brings to ACCA a lifetime of lived experience, a background in leadership roles, as well as a passion for the practice of counselling. He is dedicated to ensuring all counsellors, regardless of their actual role or education, have access to support, quality continuing education and supervision.

Dr Katrina Andrews - Education

Dr Katrina Andrews has a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Griffith University in the area of validating a popular cognitive theory of depression. Katrina is passionate and dedicated to ensuring that Australia’s future counsellors and psychotherapists receive the most effective and relevant education and training, ensuring they are the best mental health practitioners they can be. This is particularly pertinent in the current climate, given the increasing demand for quality mental health professionals due to the mental health sequelae of the CoVid-19 pandemic.

Previously, Katrina has worked in various clinical settings, including correctional centres, general and psychiatric hospitals, and with Primary Health Networks.  She has experience working with adults suffering addictions, trauma, as well as mood disorders including depression and anxiety.

Within the independent higher education sector, Katrina has worked in various lecturing and management roles for the past 10 years, within the discipline of counselling and psychotherapy in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. She has taught units related to the counselling common factors of therapeutic success, addiction counselling, mental health, sustainability, and research skills.

Katrina is excited to be part of the Australian Community Counselling Association (ACCA) as it provides an avenue to be able to reach the practitioners and offer her years of experience and knowledge to those working with the community in need.

Mary-Kate Nibbs - Treasurer of Board

Mary-Kate is a trained Mental Health counsellor, with experience in the mental health sector for the past four years. Her passion is in the area of Domestic and Family Violence she has continued her professional development in Mental Health First Aid, Recognize and Respond to Domestic and Family Violence, Trauma, Grief and loss. She gains and continues Professional Development through Mental Health Professional Network and Peer Support.

Mary-Kate has also attended Art Therapy workshops and attained a Certificate of Attendance and continues to grow by engaging in Professional Development.

Mary-Kate is passionate about decreasing the stigma of mental health in the community, support people who have been affected by Domestic and Family Violence. Mary-Kate will continue to work with her peers and help the people in the community gain knowledge around these issues by helping increase social, emotional well being and understanding.

Wendy Bonnarens - ACCA Board Support

Wendy Bonnarens has been working in the community service sector for over 20 years, specialising in counselling, hypnotherapy and teaching within a range of domains including leisure and health, disability and aged care. Wendy is the Head of Education at Australis College and is a practicing counsellor and hypnotherapist.

Wendy is a highly experienced manager and has a wealth of knowledge gained from her industry experience and qualifications. She has studied extensively and gained a wide range of qualifications across the industry, including a Bachelor of Applied Science, Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Development (major – Counselling), a range of community sector diploma qualifications including Counselling, Hypnotherapy & Psychotherapy, Youth, Community Services, Child Youth and Family Intervention, Business and Management and Remedial Massage. Wendy is also an accredited trainer and published author.

As the past ACCA president, she now works behind the scenes assisting the ACCA Board.

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