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Early Australian social work milestones

This list of milestones draws heavily on the timeline constructed by Elspeth Browne in ‘Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Australian Association of Social Workers’ (1996), Australian Social Work, 49(4), pp. 56-59 and R. J. (John) Lawrence's Professional Social Work in Australia (1965), Australian National University, Canberra.

1929
NSW Board of Social Study and Training established. This course became the University of Sydney Social Work course in 1940
1931
Training for Social Work Committee established in Melbourne. This became the University of Melbourne Social Work course in 1940
Australia's first homegrown social workers, who were hospital almoners, graduated from the Victorian Institute of Hospital Almoners at the Melbourne Hospital
1934
Australian Association of Almoners formed in Melbourne. This was an association of medical social workers. It preceded the AASW and played an important establishment role. In 1959 it amalgamated with the AASW
New South Wales Association of Social Workers formed in Sydney
1935
Victorian Association of Social Workers formed. This was based on the Sydney model
1936
Adelaide social work course commenced, entering the University of South Australia in 1942
Sydney Institute of Almoners established. Prior to that Sydney training emphasis had been generic
1938
Meeting of Australian Schools of Social work held in Sydney. Important matters discussed such as standards and course uniformity. Australian Council of Schools of Social Work formed but did not continue after the war
1940
Social Work course established at the University of Sydney, Elizabeth Govan first Director
Melbourne Social Work course taken over by the University of Melbourne, Jocelyn Hyslop first Director
1942
Adelaide University establishes Board of Social Science to supersede the South Australian Board of Social Studies and Training. Amy Wheaton, Director.
1945
General association of social workers formed in Queensland.
1946
General association of qualified social workers formed in Western Australia.
Australian Association of Social Workers founded in Sydney by representatives of the existing state social work associations (except Tasmania), first executive elected, inaugural meeting held and first constitution adopted
Norma Parker elected first President of the AASW, serving until 1953 when she became Vice-President
1947
Forum, the journal of the Victorian Association of Social Workers, first published as a small newsletter/journal in roneoed format
1950
AASW put forward a case for registration to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court
1951
Forum becomes National Journal of the AASW, and saw commencement of crucial national communication
1953
Alison Player of Melbourne elected second National President
1955
AASW registered with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. This was an important acknowledgement of social work as a profession and later assisted with improving remuneration of social workers in the Commonwealth Public Service
1956
Social Work course commenced at the University of Queensland
1957
AASW adopts interim Code of Ethics
1959
Forum changes name to Australian Journal of Social Work
1965
Publication of Professional Social Work in Australia by R. J. (John) Lawrence, the first and still only comprehensive history of Australian social work
AASW adopts Code of Ethics in full
1968
AASW adopts a new federal constitution with office bearers able to be adopted from branches other than Victoria
1972
Working party to review the purpose and structure of the Association
1974
Eligibility changed so that new members must have a four year social work degree
1975
The federal body was bound to endorse a plebiscite of the membership to create two separate organisations, the AASW and the ASWU. The ASWU took with it the registration with the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. This remains a matter of controversy among those who remember the debate
1982
AASW incorporated as a company with limited liability. Now managed by a Board, not the former Federal Executive Committee
1983
AASW offers professional indemnity insurance

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers