What social workers do

Social workers partner with people to address personal difficulties and structural barriers in their lives. They work with individuals, families, groups and communities.

Many social workers also work in non-people-facing roles, either as an employee or consultants in government or community organisations.

Social workers celebrate differences and the social work role itself is incredibly diverse. Social workers may support people through:

  • one-on-one counselling: working directly with individuals
  • group work: including health promotion groups, groups aimed at reducing social isolation, shared experiences groups (on topics such as managing addictions, bereavement or sexual assault) and age specific inclusivity groups such as older persons or adolescence groups
  • community development: implementing programs focused on community wellbeing through targeted and enhanced engagement, for example health promotion activities or specific age cohort activities
  • advocacy: including with, and on behalf of people experiencing family violence, housing stress, financial and legal issues
  • policy: developing evidence-based policies to inform government legislation, social work practice and government/community services


Social workers support people with issues relating to:

  • addiction
  • gambling
  • alcohol and other drugs
  • poverty
  • homelessness or housing stress
  • mental wellbeing and illness
  • domestic and family violence
  • physical health and disabilities
  • social injustice and discrimination
  • child and family
  • trauma
  • legal
  • relationships
  • self-determination and fulfillment


Social workers can provide or connect people with individual or group counselling. They can help them navigate and access information, advice and support services and will advocate on their behalf. This could include preparing submissions and applications, attending court, writing support letters or referrals to health and community services.

Accredited social workers

Social workers are degree-qualified allied health professionals. Many choose to demonstrate their high standards of practice through accreditation with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) – Australia’s professional representative body for social workers.

Find a social worker.

Accredited Mental Health Social Workers

Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSWs) use a range of strategies to support people experiencing mental health issues. These social workers have completed advanced training and education in mental health and are recognised providers with Medicare Australia.

AMHSWs meet some of the highest standards of professional regulation in Australia.

AASW’s Accredited Mental Health Social Workers report provides more detail about the qualifications, education and experience of AMHSWs. 

Find an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker.