AASW supports social work education for child protection work
Published: 10 August 2015
The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) welcomes discussion about how best to educate and prepare graduate social workers for work in South Australia’s child protection agency, Families SA.
Child protection work is demanding and complex. It requires knowledge and a multitude of skills to work with often involuntary clients. Social workers are the profession of choice to work in this area because they have an holistic perspective of a person’s circumstances within the broader social system.
The basic social work degree covers a broad range of topics that are considered necessary for working in the many different areas that employ social workers. Not all social work graduates want to work in child protection. The AASW requires all social work courses in Australia to cover child protection (including how to recognise child abuse), as well as mental health, Indigenous issues and multicultural practice. Social work students are also required to complete two 500 hour work experience placements in order to qualify as social workers. This equates to about five months’ or three days per week each year.
In relation to more child protection content in social work courses, the question for the AASW and universities is what would need to be taken out to fit it into the curriculum.
The AASW recognises the need for further specialist education and training for social workers who are employed in child protection, but when should it be provided and by whom? Further training options should be considered and the AASW is currently discussing the matter with universities and Families SA.
We also encourage Families SA to employ qualified social workers and endorse the recent calls for registration of social workers. The AASW has been calling for formal registration for 20 years; it would make it clear which workers are qualified professional social workers and enable them to be held accountable to the professional ethics and standards.
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