Challenging experience drives quest for further knowledge

20 Dec 2016

Being confronted by the plight of child soldiers in the African country of Uganda is something Andrew Wilcox is unlikely to ever forget.

The University of Queensland School of Nursing Midwifery and Social Work graduate admits it was a driving force in his decision to switch his career from teaching to counselling.

“That experience in Uganda really inspired me to return to Australia and pursue a Masters of Counselling,” Mr Wilcox said.

“I was working with survivors of war who were suffering complex trauma.

 “After 30 years of my life, I felt a general sense that an empathetic way of life could become fine-tuned and optimised with further study.

“Instead of helping others in a vague way, I sought empirically validated knowledge and approaches that could support people on their journey of healing and recovery.”

Mr Wilcox has turned his attention towards another overseas community where he plans to make a difference – the Indian city of Kolkata.

There, he will be assisting his wife with a community health and education program which will take two years to be implemented.

 “In the future, I’d like to extend the work and understanding of psychological trauma in vulnerable populations in Australia and abroad through study, research and practice wisdom,” Mr Wilcox said.

As well as being inspired by a range of educators at UQ – including Associate Professor Judith Murray, Dr Brian Sullivan and Patricia Wilson – Mr Wilcox reserved special mention for his practical placement manager Neil Barringham.

Mr Barringham oversaw Mr Wilcox at West End community mental health organisation A Place to Belong.

“Neil inspired me to live out the philosophy of inclusion by giving a genuine voice to those who have often been marginalised and silenced in our communities and families,” Mr Wilcox said.

“He’s played a big part in me transferring my ideals into reality.”

Further information about gaining Master of Counselling accreditation is available on the UQ School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work website.

Media: Robert Burgin, UQ Communications,, +61 7 3346 3035, +61 448 410 364.