Careers & study
Studying social work
In the absence of a legislated regulatory framework in Australia, the social work profession is self-regulating. Over time, AASW has become the body nominated by members, higher education providers and the broader professional community to set and maintain standards of professional conduct for social workers educated or seeing to work in Australia. Since 1998, AASW has had a Services Contract with the Commonwealth Government, whereby the Government devolved assessment of international social work qualifications to the AASW. In entry level Bachelor and Masters degrees, all students undertake a minimum of 1000 hours of field education, in agencies and organisations that deliver social work services to clients, to develop their skills in a range of fields and apply their academic knowledge in the workplace. The standard of social work education is set by the Australian Social Work Accreditation Standards.
What do social workers do?
Once qualified, social workers pursue a range of employment pathways. These include roles in casework, counselling, advocacy and community engagement in which social workers build on the strength and resources of people in the context of their social and cultural environments. Sometimes this means supporting people as they discover, develop or remember their strengths and resources and, at other times, helping them develop or access resources.
Social workers also advocate for resources that have been denied and contribute to policy development, education and research, particularly on issues of social justice, disadvantage and marginalisation.
Members of the profession work with individuals, families, groups and communities for government and non-government agencies, including hospitals, community health services and schools, aid advocacy bodies, detention centres and local councils. An increasing number of social workers are also employed as private practitioners.