UniSA’s new leader of counselling puts the focus on student education and empowerment

Counselling services at UniSA. INSIDE UNISA

UniSA has appointed Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and former Associate Dean of Flinders Living, Narelle Lieschke as its new Manager: Counselling.

UniSA’s new Manager: Counselling Narelle Lieschke.UniSA’s new Manager: Counselling Narelle Lieschke.

Arguably one of the most important roles in directing student wellbeing on campus, Lieschke says she is excited to take on the job at a time when UniSA is enhancing a range of new strategies to engage students in their own physical, mental and sexual health and safety.

“One of the reasons I applied for the role is that I will be working much more immediately in the policy space and be able to contribute meaningfully to the development of policy and practice to support student wellbeing,” Lieschke says.

“Universities offer students the learning to start successful careers but it important to match that by empowering them to get the most out of their time at university in a safe environment that nurtures respect and psychosocial good health.

“My goal is to keep UniSA at the forefront – with a suite of best practice counselling services which are benchmarked to the highest national standards.”

In her previous role, with oversight of student wellbeing at Flinders University’s 560+ bed, residential facility, Lieschke was keenly aware of the important role education plays in supporting safe environments for students.

She led with the development and delivery of a two-hour workshop relating to sexual consent for 480 Flinders Living residents and was integral in the establishment of a sexual assault disclosure response protocol at Flinders. She also worked to support a sexual assault first response training strategy for student leaders.

Before working at Flinders University, Lieschke worked for five years at Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service in South Australia where she managed a team of six clinicians who provided counselling services to victims of sexual assault and their families.

She supervised clinical staff who delivered crisis response, therapeutic counselling and therapeutic group work services to male and female victims of all ages and cultural backgrounds. As a Crisis Response Coordinator there, she managed a team of 20 allied health professionals including crisis response workers and forensic medical staff.

“We can support university students’ mental and physical health and I know UniSA has recently introduced some great programs that empower students to take control of their wellbeing – programs that help set them up for life beyond campus days,” Lieschke says.

“It is really important to develop a culture of safety and care on campus through education and open discussion but if or when an incident happens, it is crucial that the University is well prepared to manage it and support students with genuine sensitivity and comprehensive care.

“I look forward to working with the counselling team at UniSA to continue to drive innovation and excellence in our service.”

Lieschke begins her new role at UniSA on 24 July.