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COVID-19 social work study FAQs

COVID-19 pandemic response to the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS)

The AASW will mirror the advice from TEQSA and work collaboratively and offer a pragmatic and sensible approach to the challenges faced by all Higher Education Providers (HEPs) / Universities and students. The AASW, similar to TEQSA, acknowledge that due to COVID-19 providers may not be in a position to fully comply with the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEWAS) requirements.

The ASWEAS outline that regardless of the mode of delivery all programs must provide a minimum of 20 days face-to-face teaching and learning in which all students must participate irrespective of the mode of program delivery. With social distancing now in force, how are we supposed to comply?

The AASW envisage and fully expect to see modified programs and variations that include a reduction of face-to-face and attendance requirements. For distance education providers, the AASW understands and approves that some residential schools will be cancelled and delivered online. We will also expect that on-campus programs will now deliver their programs online. HEPs will be required to report any modification and variations in their 2020 AASW Annual Reports.

I am currently doing my placement and my agency has asked staff to work from home. What impact does this have on my placement?

ASWEAS Guideline 1.2: “Students must successfully complete a minimum of 1,000 hours in at least two field education subjects. These hours must be completed within the normal working hours/days of the organisation hosting the placement. No leave of any kind may be included in this requirement; that is, the full 1,000 hours must be completed”.

If students are unable to attend their placement due to office/service closure, it is envisaged that these students can continue their placement from home and fulfil the requirements (including the required hours) of the placement. The AASW will approve this and it is expected that students make arrangements which will be managed by the HEP, the field education department including the field educator (agency or external), task supervisor and field education liaison staff. Supplementary projects relating to the placement, simulation or other pedagogies might be used to complement the placement. This may require some adjustment of the students learning goals. The AASW understands that in these circumstances, direct practice (SW practice where the student engages directly with individuals, groups, families, communities) is not possible. In consultation with the Field Educator (agency or external based) and the HEP Field Education Liaison Officer, the student might continue the placement working remotely and focus on achieving new/additional learning outcomes.

Alternatively, the HEP, student and placement provider can decide to postpone the placement until the COVID-19 has passed if all parties are willing to accommodate this and if this fits around coursework.

For students who have not commenced their placement or are due to commence their placements in the next few weeks, placements might be postponed/cancelled by the Higher Education Providers.

At least one placement has to be in direct practice - what if I haven't done that yet, and now I can't, due to social distancing?

If the above situation arises in the student's final/last placement and the student has already conducted an indirect placement, the student must consult with the HEP and the AASW to discuss options.

Social work field educators must be able to provide a minimum of 1.5 hours formal supervision per student for each 35 hours of placement. At a minimum, half of this supervision must be provided on a one-to-one basis.

During the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic, flexible supervision arrangements can be negotiated. The use of technology (zoom/skype) can replace face-to-face supervision arrangements.

FELO Visits: ASWEAS states that the responsibilities of the field education liaison staff include maintaining regular contact with the student with a minimum of three contact, including at least one face to face visit to clarify education issues, monitor the progress of the placement, mediate any difficulties and asses student progress.

During the unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic the AASW approve to waive the face to face visit requirement and substitute this requirement with an online meeting.

My placement will be cancelled, what will happen to the hours I have already completed?

Hours that have already been completed will be calculated towards completing a 1,000 hours of field education. The AASW will approve that students don’t lose completed hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I have a query about my AASW Accredited Social Work program?

We would expect that the first port of call for students is to contact their Higher Education Provider or University. HEPs can in most cases manage these types of enquiries.

If a HEP would like to discuss a particular situation with the AASW they can contact the Program Manager Quality Accreditation on or on 03 9320 1000 ext 4 and discuss the particular situation and seek an approval/exemption to a particular area of the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers