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The Shark Cage Framework helps women to identify their human rights (Supplied)

An eight-week program offered by CatholicCare Tasmania is helping to heal and empower women who have experienced abuse in their relationships. Source: Hobart Archdiocese.

CatholicCare is delivering The Shark Cage program in all regions of the state with consistently positive feedback from participants, including one who said “I’ve got a lot more tools in my ‘Life Toolbox’ to help move forward in life.”

CatholicCare Specialised Family Violence Services counsellor Mel, who works out of CatholicCare’s Devonport and Burnie offices, explained that the program is based on the Shark Cage Framework, a group of psychological interventions developed to help workers and clients understand and reduce abuse in women’s lives in a non-victim-blaming and empowering way.

“The program covers a range of topics all with the common theme of recognising when a person’s behaviours or actions are violating your human rights,” Mel said.

“It does this by exploring healthy/unhealthy relationships, boundary setting, human rights, abusive behaviours and the impacts, self-care, connecting mind, body and feelings, and recognising potentially abusive or exploitative persons.”

The program runs over eight consecutive weeks and each session is two-and-a-half hours.  Facilitators are qualified counsellors with considerable experience in family violence counselling and each has been trained in the program by psychologist Ursula Benstead, who created the Shark Cage Framework.

Mel stressed that the Shark Cage program is different from many others because it assesses potential participants “prior to inclusion in the group to establish it is the right time in the client’s journey to benefit fully” from taking part. 

Counsellors and school counsellors from around Tasmania have recently completed the Shark Cage for Young Women training to work with girls aged 12-17 years. 

The Shark Cage for Young Women group provides a framework within which young women are supported to learn about their human rights, manage strong emotions, build self-worth, and develop assertiveness skills.


Assisting those who have experienced abusive relationships (By Veronika Cox, Hobart Archdiocese)