COVID-19 social work study and ASWEAS FAQs
COVID-19 pandemic response to the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS)
AASW approved flexibilities and modifications to the ASWEAS (1 January to 31 December 2022).
In recognition of the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19 for students and Higher Education Providers (HEPs), the AASW has approved some ongoing flexibilities for AASW Accredited Social Work programs for the 2022 academic year.
The AASW has approved flexibilities concerning Field Education (ASWEAS Section 4) and face-to-face classroom-based learning (ASWEAS 6.3.2). These flexibilities should be used where it is not otherwise possible to meet the standards due to Covid-19 and not as a blanket rule. Normally these variations would be non-compliant with the ASWEAS. However, given the extraordinary nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and its wide-ranging impacts, the AASW is supportive of the following flexibilities:
- Students may be supervised by an external supervisor for more than one placement where this is deemed necessary by the HEP.
- Indirect placements in which students are working in small groups on a shared project. That is 1.5 hours of formal group supervision per 35 hours of placement will be considered adequate, provided the HEP can demonstrate that all the objectives of supervision (including those that are normally achieved through supervision provided on a one-to-one basis), have been met.
- Students can complete two placements in one year, where this is deemed necessary by the HEP. However, the students will need to have completed prescribed academic prerequisites before and between each placement.
- HEPs may choose to deliver up to 35 hours per placement via supervised simulations, where this is needed to meet identified gaps in student placement learning outcomes.
- Continued flexibility around on-campus attendance requirements, with both staff and students affected by public health directives including lockdowns, border closures, and quarantining of specified individuals.
The previous AASW approved COVID-19 ASWEAS exemptions for reduced placement hours, and the capacity to complete two non-practice-based placements expired on 31 December 2021. Students are thus required to complete 1,000 hours of placement, and a minimum of one field education placement in a direct field education setting, as per the ASWEAS requirements.
The AASW has applied a range of flexibilities and exemptions concerning the ASWEAS since 2020 in consultation with HEPs. Effective 01 January 2023, the AASW will revert to the ASWEAS, unless restrictions across State/Territory governments continue to impact Field Education and on-site learning beyond this time.
It is important to emphasise that it remains the continued responsibility of HEPs to ensure that upon qualification, students have met all required learning outcomes. As such, these flexibilities should only be utilised only when required. The AASW is also informed by the advice of TEQSA and is committed to working collaboratively with HEPs to reach pragmatic, reasonable, and compassionate accommodations given the multi-faceted challenges faced by providers and students alike. The AASW, like TEQSA, acknowledges that due to COVID-19, providers may not be able to comply with the ASWEAS requirements but will strive to do so via a range of student-focussed and often highly innovative methods, for which the AASW commends them.
Our priority is that students access a wide range of learning opportunities and experiences to:
- Enable them to graduate with the required social work skills and attributes
- Ensure that new graduates are confident, ethically competent, and skilled social workers equipped for practice.
This is essential to uphold the integrity of the social work profession and the safety and wellbeing of the people and communities who utilise social work services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some frequently asked questions related to studying social work in Australia.