Who do Social Workers Help: Australian Career Guide
Are you considering a career in social work?
The role of a social worker can be extremely varied, but often revolves around working with individuals and their families in a commitment to their human rights and social justice. Social workers focus on supporting people through challenging circumstances and aim to improve their overall wellbeing. There are many different aspects to the role of a social worker, which is why we’ve created the ultimate guide to help break down everything you need to know about this fulfilling profession.
A career in social work can create exciting opportunities. With low unemployment and prediction of strong growth within the industry in the future, working as a social worker offers fantastic job security. With 36% of social workers employed on a part time basis, the occupation provides great flexibility for those not seeking full time work.
part time worker share
social workers with a bachelor's degree
Source: Job Outlook
average salary for professional social workers
Who Does a Social Worker Help?
Social workers can be used by a range of diverse individuals within society. The help involved in social work often includes spending time with their program participants and acting as an advisor to help them move forward and improve their lives. Improvements can occur through accessing resources for health, wellbeing, housing or other community services or identifying the cause of the issues.
Often working with other social and health professionals such as doctors, counsellors and psychologists, social work services play an important role in the journey to becoming an independent participant within society. Typically arranged through either government, private practices or community agencies including hospitals/health services, employment services, youth and aged services or care facilities, social workers can assist with issues such as:
- Mental health issues
- Substance abuse
- Unemployment/professional development
- Child protection/child abuse
- Domestic violence/family violence
- Youth behavioural issues
These issues generally involve individuals or families facing a crisis within their lives and require the assistance of a social worker. As a result, being a social worker can prove challenging at times to help people work through tough situations. Finding a social worker in Australia is generally done through either Centrelink or the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).
What Skills Does a Social Worker Need?
The challenges that arise from individuals facing crises in their lives can mean that the role of a social worker can prove to be complicated. As a result, social workers need to have the ability to be empathetic and be a good listener to help those in need. Qualified social worker, Sharon Schofield, who works with young people, insists that being non-judgmental is crucial. Having a great deal of emotional intelligence and problem solving skills is essential for social workers to help in the community effectively.
In addition to the emotional skills required to be a social worker, a sound knowledge of the social sciences is vital to understand the relationship between individuals and the society as a whole. Different areas of social sciences that social workers need to understand include education, economics, psychology and legal aspects in an effort to assist people in need. Often needing to refer clients to other social and health care services, a social worker can be considered as a case manager for people in difficult circumstances to achieve their goals.
Organisational and administrative skills are also essential for a social worker, as case management of several clients requires critical attention to detail and an ability to liaise with other support services in order to assist a client. Day to day tasks for a social worker can involve a great deal of registration, emailing and sorting through resources on behalf of the client.
- Excellent listening
- A non-judgemental attitude
- Emotional intelligence
- Problem solving
- Knowledge of social sciences
- Organisational skills
How Can I Become a Social Worker?
There are many great pathways to beginning a career in social work. Various aspects of social sciences can be studied to specialise in different areas of social work, such as:
These types of qualifications are great if you’re looking to focus on a particular aspect of social work.
For a broader knowledge covering different aspects of social work, a Diploma of Community Services may be worth considering if you’re looking for a versatile job. For further undergraduate degree study options, a Bachelor of Community Services is also available to have a greater understanding of how to help clients struggling with personal issues.
Ready to begin a fulfilling career?
Working as a social worker can be an incredibly rewarding profession. While offering its challenges, social workers are ultimately making a big difference within our community, resulting in an incredibly satisfying career path!
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