Home' The Good Universities Guide : The Good Universities Guide 2016 Contents Social work
What you're in for
If you enjoy helping others deal with personal and social
problems, you might consider a career in social work. Courses in
social work teach you to understand and analyse the
circumstances of people facing a variety of problems and
challenges, as well as to develop strategies that will help to
improve these circumstances or reduce their impact. Sometimes
the problem is short term, such as supporting a family where a
parent has died or is seriously ill, or settling in newly arrived
migrant families. But often the focus is on people who are in for a
long struggle - the poor, Indigenous communities, the aged, the
chronically ill, families who are 'dysfunctional' and many others.
Other roles in social work are very proactive and involve projects
like helping to establish leisure, recreation or social services in
new suburbs or building the infrastructure for people to gather
and develop a sense of community.
For more information, visit the Australian Association of Social
Workers (AASW) website at www.aasw.asn.au.
If you are interested in this field, you should also look into courses
in areas such as education and training, health services and
support, humanities and social sciences, law, nursing, paralegal
studies, psychology, and sport and leisure studies.
Courses and specialisations
Courses in this field fit into one of two groups - an
undergraduate degree with no prior study (which may take four
years, or less under a trimester system) or a two-year course
taken after completing two years of related tertiary study (with
certain prerequisites). Some providers also offer postgraduate
programs. In recent years, there has been a move to expand the
skills of social work graduates by offering courses combined with
related fields such as psychology, social science, health science
The student body and graduate ratings
THE STUDENT BODY
Total students % International % Domestic
The diverse areas of specialisation that social workers can
choose from may include family, youth and child welfare services;
medical and health services; psychiatric and general mental
health services; disability services; juvenile and family law courts;
aged care; income support; and mediation.
Where to study
Note that there are relevant occupations at paraprofessional
level, which require the completion of a diploma course (available
mostly through TAFE institutes), and at the professional level,
which require a university degree.
Social work degrees are offered at numerous universities and
campuses in all states and territories. They are not difficult to get
into at many institutions, but some may have stricter criteria for
entry than others. To compare entry difficulty at different
institutions, see the 'How tough is it to get in?' tables in Section 4.
AASW has expressed concern over the lack of regulation of
social work in Australia, and is calling for the inclusion of social
work in the National Regulation and Accreditation Scheme
A new degree structure, which has already been established at
selected institutions, has the potential to become more common
in social work. The structure follows a US-style model where
undergraduates enter a general pre-professional degree
(perhaps in arts or social science) before progressing to a
postgraduate qualification in social work.
A benefit for students is AASW's Australian Social Work
Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS), which set out
the principles, standards and graduate attributes for social work
education in Australia. These standards are used as criteria for
the accreditation of professional social work courses.
Estimated average Teaching quality Generic skills
tuition costs for
The fees shown are for the whole course and are approximate. Confirm with the institution concerned. For an explanation of abbreviations, see page 424.
162 GOOD UNIVERSITIES GUIDE
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