Our History

Our History

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) was formed as a national association in 1946. It started with 400 members and was administered by volunteers. Today, more than 17,000 members are supported by the Board, volunteers and staff.

Creating a national voice

Australia’s first professional bodies for social workers were state-based organisations founded in the 1930s. Although state leaders and educators recognised the need for a national association, as well as national standards for social work training and practice, the profession’s resources were understandably stretched during World War II. Momentum for a national association increased as the war came to end.

On 7 September 1946, seven interstate delegates adopted the draft constitution for the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). In December that year, the Association’s first Federal Executive Committee was elected.

Female founders

The AASW’s founding executive members were all women. Most were already respected public figures, and all went on to make extraordinary contributions to the social work profession.

Read about our founders.

Australian social work milestones 

In an article celebrating the AASW’s 70th anniversary in 2016, life member Jane Miller AM outlined the history of the association and the key milestones of Australian social work.  

Read The people and the times: Founding of the AASW’ by Jane Miller AM. The brief history is published in Social Work Focus, autumn 2016 (Volume 1, Issue 1).