About Social work

About Social Work

Social work is a university-qualified profession dedicated to assisting people to improve their lives, with a focus on their personal and social wellbeing.  

Social workers take the time needed to build relationships with people so that together they can consider all aspects of their situation, including their strengths and capacities, as well as the areas where they need help. They offer solutions, supports and pathways that make sense in the context of the person’s environment, preferences and abilities. 

As qualified professionals, social workers have the skills and knowledge to support individuals, families, groups and communities. You’ll find social workers in a wide range of organisations and settings including federal and state governments, hospitals, schools, community services organisations, and private practice. 

Social workers can sometimes be hard to spot because their job title might not include the words: social work. Qualified social workers might also use the following job titles: counsellor, case manager, mental health clinician, community worker, housing worker, team manager, policy development advisor, youth worker, wellbeing coordinator and child protection officer. However, it is important to remember that not all people using these job titles are qualified social workers.  

An in-demand, highly qualified profession

Today, demand for social workers is high. Social work ranks among the top high-growth industries in the nation. 

Social workers complete either a Bachelor of Social Work (4-year university degree) or a Master of Social Work qualifying (2-year postgraduate university degree). These degree programs give students the knowledge and skills to better understand and support people, promote community participation and advocate for social change. They contain a compulsory, practical component. They also prepare graduates for the professional recognition that comes with AASW membership. 

The profession is regulated by the AASW, which sets standards for social work practice, ethics and education. 

Wellbeing and social justice for all

Social work is also a profession that advocates for fairness, social justice and human rights. 

Although social workers work in diverse roles and settings, they are united under a shared vision of ‘wellbeing and social justice for all’. Striving for this vision means working towards a world where: 

  • all people have access to adequate, secure and suitable income, healthcare, housing, education, legal support and social connections, irrespective of location, background or socioeconomic status
  • all people have agency in their lives, and the opportunities to exercise choice and fulfill their potential
  • poverty has been eradicated because adequate financial support is available for people with disability, or who are experiencing violence, mental illness or hardship
  • an emphasis on inclusion drives positive social outcomes for all.