Sectors we work with

Victorian Drought Counsellors

Home / Support for services / Sectors we work with / Victorian Drought Counsellors

Towards the end of 2006, The Bouverie Centre was funded to assist rural counsellors in their work of delivering effective counselling services to people in rural areas affected by drought (either directly or indirectly) as part of the Tackling Mental Health and Drought Counselling Strategies Initiative. Along with delivering training in innovative models of counselling, Bouverie was also engaged to facilitate a process of broader research. The research aimed to explore the efficacy of these models and to understand, articulate and document other approaches to counselling and community development that are effective in rural areas, particularly those affected by drought.

An image of a children's drawing of a tractor on a farm.

The work encompassed:

  • Delivery of training in five different rural regions. Counsellors working in a range of programs in these areas, not just drought counsellors, were given the opportunity to attend workshops in No Bullshit Therapy and/or Single Session Work. These two approaches were thought likely to appeal to the Australian rural culture and improve uptake of counselling.
  • Facilitating monthly rural peer support groups, which became Co‐operative Inquiry Groups (CIGs). Over the course of the 19 month project, over 100 drought counsellors and associated workers from 88 different organisations attended at least one local CIG meeting. Much was accomplished in the 70 meetings that took place, including reflection on what was working and what was not in the relatively undeveloped area of drought counselling. Each meeting was audio recorded and the major themes were summarised by the group’s facilitator. CIG members received a copy of the written summary prior to the next meeting.
  • CIG facilitator debrief sessions. Bouverie CIG facilitators met after each monthly CIG to share, compare and contrast themes arising from the different regions. These sessions, called Cooperative Inquiry Group Action Research (CIGAR) meetings, were themselves facilitated by Bouverie’s former Director, Dr. Colin Riess. Besides a general exploration of significant drought‐related themes, CIGAR meetings provided a format for the cross‐regional sharing of fruitful ideas generated at local CIG meetings.
  • The development of a mechanism for knowledge sharing between regions.  Each CIGAR discussion was transcribed and ideas were published in a quarterly Newsletter - No Bull. Much of the content in the early editions of No Bull was provided by the research team. Whilst Bouverie maintained an editorial role throughout, as the project grew, drought counsellors began to contribute work more freely and frequently, increasing their sense of ownership of the newsletter. In addition to the newsletter, information collected via the CIG‐CIGAR network was also fed back to participants through an active email network (used for sharing resources quickly) and a face-to-face forum.
  • The use of other qualitative and quantitative measures to elicit drought counsellors’ views about their work and feedback from clients about their experience of drought counselling.

The practice wisdom associated with responding to drought affected communities is documented in the below reports. It builds on previous research on drought counselling, by providing insight into:

  • the structural supports required to allow drought counsellors to do an effective job
  • the complexity of the social impacts of drought
  • specific strategies that are effective in drought counselling

Download a copy of the project summary report.

Download a copy of the No Bull Newsletter:


Vikki Reynolds presents Justice-Doing, Collective Ethics and The “Zone of Fabulousness”

The Bouverie Centre is delighted to be hosting an interactive workshop by Vikki Reynolds on how we can be of use in community work that happens in contexts of social injustices.

find out more

Family Violence and Mental Health Services

The Bouverie Centre presented a webinar describing the centre’s work exploring the intersection between Family Violence and Mental Health.

find out more
Sign up to receive Bouverie news & events