Libby follows a pathway to family violence work

Libby Fotopoulos had a dream to become a family violence worker. With sheer determination, she made it happen. Now, she’s reaching for the stars.

Libby (Labrine) Fotopoulos’s lived experience of family violence inspired her to move into the field and help others.

As a specialist family violence practitioner, no two days are the same – but they are always rewarding.

Some days, Libby assists clients with doctors or Centrelink appointments, court or police matters.

Other days, she helps them apply for funding, or supports them to reach out for counselling or sign up to a course.

“It’s amazing,” says Libby. “I absolutely love it, it’s the best thing I ever did.

“I’m so glad I took the risk.”

Changing careers at the age of 53 was indeed a risk, but it had been a lifelong dream of Libby’s to work in the family violence sector.

“I was a production manager for most of my life in different food industries,” says Libby.

“This was something that I was very passionate about.”

In 2015, Libby started volunteering at the Speaking Out Program, led by Women’s Health East.

Through that program, she connected with Family Safety Victoria (FSV) and the Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council (VSAC).

Working with FSV reinforced how much Libby wanted to work in the sector. Once her mind was made up, it was just a matter of making it happen.

With the help of a friend and mentor at FSV, as well as support from Chisholm, Libby followed a study pathway to become a qualified family violence worker.

She enrolled in Chisholm’s Undergraduate Certificate in Community Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs, so that she was then eligible to do a Graduate Certificate in Family Violence.

After completing her undergraduate qualification, Libby was employed by WAYSS, a family violence and homelessness service in the catchment of southern Melbourne.

While working, Libby received study leave one day a week from the organisation, so that she could do the Graduate Certificate in Family Violence.

Libby says it was a hectic juggle – studying and working in an after-hours role, which meant weekend and night work.

But she loved the experience and came out the other end with a nationally recognised qualification under her belt.

“The lecturers were amazing,” says Libby. “They were very supportive and made it very enjoyable.

“The whole course gave me confidence that I can do this, and I am worthy of this role.”

Nowadays, Libby has moved into the Refuge area of WAYSS. She says she uses the skills she learnt at Chisholm daily.

“The course provides a lot of techniques that you adapt within the role,” she says.

“There’s a lot of case studies and information that you use – I feel like it set me up really well.”

For Libby’s tenacity and hard work, she was named Higher Education Student of the Year at the 2023 Chisholm Education Awards.

Libby is loving her work and being able to make a difference in women’s lives.

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. If life is in danger, phone 000.