ASWEAS Review 2016
The Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS) 2012 set out the principles, minimum standards and graduate attributes for entry level social work education in Australia. They are used as the criteria for the accreditation of professional social work courses with the AASW and work with the Code of Ethics 2010 and Practice Standards 2013 in setting Australia's professional social work standards in Australia.
The periodic ASWEAS review was scheduled for 2017 but was bought forward to 2016 in acknowledgement of changing and emerging issues for education providers and the profession. The review, which will involve consultation and engagement with key stakeholders, will:
- apply a continuous improvement approach to further articulate education standards in a clear and consistent manner
- address the language and structure of the document to ensure ease of access and present information in a manner that is appropriate and accessible
- articulate the evidence base underpinning the standards
- separate operational and procedural requirements from the standards and present them in a new operational manual
- benchmark our standards with international associations and other allied health professions.
Latest news from the Chair
Since July 2016, the ASWEAS review process has involved:
- extensive consultation with key stakeholders: More than 80 groups and individuals provided input to this process. They included AASW members, the Council of Heads of Schools (COHS), employers, consumer representatives and private practitioners, including members of the National Field Education Group.
- a scoping exercise to align the ASWEAS Framework and the entry-level knowledge and skills it specifies with standards set internationally for social work graduates and with other graduate-level professional courses in Australia
- a review of literature relating to teaching and learning, with a particular focus on the contentious issue of distance education and the emerging significance of information technology as both an aid to learning and a means of service delivery.
In October 2016, the key stakeholders met for a round-table discussion of the issues and decisions resulting from the consultation. This process was immensely helpful. There was a general consensus that ASWEAS plays an important role in assisting both social work courses and employers to maintain professional standards in the face of increasing pressures to cut costs. The key stakeholders confirmed the need to maintain, and, where possible, increase the current requirements for staffing ratios and face-to-face teaching. They argued the need for a strong emphasis in face-to-face teaching on universal practice skills and asserted the need for entry-level professionals to have a robust professional identity and significant interpersonal skills, and the significant role that field education plays in achieving these. In particular, stakeholders argued strongly for better preparation of students prior to their first placement.
Now the task of rewriting the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS) 2012 is underway. A draft will be presented to the AASW Board at the February meeting in Melbourne which will also decide the final consultation process.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank all members who have contributed to the review process to date. Inevitably, there are different viewpoints about the best way forward for social work education, but what has united everyone is a commitment to best practice and to the vulnerable populations with whom and on whose behalf we work.
Dr Brenda Clare
AASW National Director and Chair, ASWEAS Review
Watch this space for more ASWEAS review consultation opportunities.
- 22 July 2016: ASWEAS review discussion paper submissions closed. Over 80 were received from individuals, groups and organisations. Read the submissions (for which consent to publish was given).