ONE VOICE Conference Speaker

Di O'Neil

BA Dip Soc Stud (University of Melbourne) 

Di is an ordinary retired citizen who barracks for Geelong and has an ongoing interest in resilience and believes there is a hero in all people. 

Di studied social work at Melbourne University in the 1960s.  She has had 50 years experience as a social worker.  Most of that time has been spent in the child and family welfare field with more recent involvement in mental health recovery and community capacity building.  She has a strong commitment to strengths based work and an unshakable belief that clients are their own best experts.  She has significantly influenced the development of the Strengths Approach in Australia as a framework for social justice and capacity building in case work, in communities, and in management. 

Di believes her greatest contribution has been through her capacity to take learnings from client-worker interactions through to policy and practice development at state and national level. 

She was a founding member of the publishing team at Innovative Resources and had a direct influence in the production of a range of bestselling conversational tools to assist personal development.

She is a co-author of two books Beyond Child Rescue and Promoting Family Change and contributed a chapter to Making a Difference. She was the lead writer for a Commonwealth funded project called Shaping the Future, a practice framework and training package for professionals working with children living with domestic violence. Di has had many journal articles published.

Di has sat on many statewide practice and policy committees in Victoria. Di has presented at many conferences and provided training and facilitation across Australia and internationally. 

In 2001 she was awarded the Lingren Strengthening Families Award from the University of Nebraska, USA, for her contribution to strengths based practices with families. 

In 2006 Di was awarded an OAM for services to social work, particularly in the field of child and family services.

Until recent retirement, Di was an Executive Director at St Luke’s in Bendigo and played an integral role in founding the new incarnation of the organisation. Her last held position at St Luke’s was directing strengths based practices and training.

She is currently busy advocating for refugee children held in detention.