About Graeme Baird

As a registered psychologist my obsession is focused on two related issues—’what works’ to improve the lives of people generally and ‘what works’ to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in our community in particular.

My obsession arose through my psychology work, but  my introduction to psychology was serendipitous. As a young man, I attended a Catholic school where Religious Knowledge was compulsory. In Year 10, the priest thought I was far too argumentative, so banished me to the school library. Here I came across a number of psychology textbooks. I’d never read anything like it, and was immediately hooked.

Fortunately for me, this introduction set me on my life’s career. Unfortunately for the priest, because I enjoyed my time in the library and was keen for more, I just became all the more argumentative.

Improving Outcomes

There are some 40,000 registered psychologists in Australia as of December 2021. But there are an estimated 1.3 million caseworkers and support workers. These 1.3 million caseworkers/support workers support about five million Australians every week – many of whom are the most vulnerable in our community. And there is also strong evidence that suggests that the way a caseworker and client interact has a huge impact on determining outcomes.

I realised that the best way to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable Australians would be giving support, education and upskilling opportunities to these 1.3 million front line workers that are meeting and supporting them every day.

McAlpine B’s EMPOWER Model

Through my company, McAlpine B, I created the EMPOWER Model. This is a direct practice model designed to educate, train and guide support workers and caseworkers to create better interactions with clients and maximise positive outcomes. Its focus is on better helping our vulnerable members of society, while supporting workers to avoid burn out and turnover.

My Background

  • Over 30 years working with out-of-home care and youth including as a protective worker, residential care worker, youth justice worker and manager/superintendent of youth justice detention centres and large children’s homes
  • Lead of the Victorian Government’s de-institutionalisation program for child protection clients
  • Psychologist in private practice and in schools
  • Spearheaded ministerial reviews into the operations of Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre, Parkville Youth Residential Centre and Malmsbury Youth Justice Centre in 2001 in Victoria for Hon. Christine Campbell, MP – Minister for Community Services
  • Redesigned the foster carer recruitment process for the Department of Community Services (DoCS) in NSW