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The Bachelor of Social Work is concerned with the personal and social relationships between individuals, families, groups, organisations and communities. Imparted will be the skills and knowledge relevant for methods to relieve distress, redress inequality, promote social justice and participate in the processes of social change which remove structural disadvantage and create opportunities for people to achieve their own goals. Compulsory professional placements provide a means for students to gain first-hand experience.
Graduates are, ultimately, prepared for careers as professional social workers. They may find work in varying levels of government, non-government organisations, national and international aid organisations, and community groups. They will work with organisations, groups, families and individuals to address inequality and promote the well-being of people in society.
There is a compulsory 70 day placement in the third and fourth year of the degree.
The Bachelor of Social Work degree at the University of Newcastle is an accredited qualification with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).The AASW reviews and accredits social work degrees offered by universities throughout Australia to establish whether graduates are eligible for membership of their professional association. There is no legal registration for Social Workers in any State of Australia. However, the AASW is the standard-setting body for social work and many jobs require eligibility for membership of the AASW.
For more information about Social Work, visit the School of Humanities and Social Sciences site.
Some occupations require a higher level of completed study than an undergraduate degree, and for this reason it is worthwhile considering the range of Research Higher Degrees (RHD), Postgraduate Coursework and other additional study options available. These options may also be useful for specialising in a particular area, or to stimulate career change. Some of the future options following a degree in Social Work include:
Masters by Research
As the global job sector can be competitive, it is of great advantage to complete a postgraduate qualification, particularly by independent research (such as Masters by Research, or PhD). See examples of research areas within this discipline here.
There is a wide range of postgraduate coursework programs available in both social work and non-social work areas, which may broaden a graduate’s employment prospects. To explore such options please visit the Postgraduate Handbook at http://www.newcastle.edu.au/program/postgraduate/
Graduates gain employment in a range of social work roles, however the knowledge and skills of social work graduates means that they can gain employment in a very broad range of jobs. Below is a sample of job titles and descriptions that includes positions suitable for social work graduates as well as positions that will require further study or experience.
- Case Worker/Manager
- Community Development Worker
- Community Services Worker
- Coordinator of Social Services
Graduates are also able to use the transferable skills gained in their studies to work outside the field of social work. In some instances, further study and/or work experience may be required.
As well as the jobs listed above, there are many positions outside the general field of Social Work that graduates may pursue using the transferable skills gained in their studies. The list of job titles below shows examples of the type of jobs / careers graduates can diversify into; that might not necessarily be directly related to their degree.
- Access and Equity Advisor
- Community Liaison Officer
- Community Project Officer
- Graduate Programs - Public and Private Sectors
- Health Promotion Officer
- Hostel and Refuge Worker
- Immigration Officer
- International Aid/Development Worker
- Juvenile Justice Officer
Getting the Edge
Most employers seek to recruit people who have relevant work experience and an appreciation for their industry. Here is a check list of ideas about gaining experience and industry knowledge.
- Check the type of experience most employers in your field of interest expect. Don’t overlook the part time work you may be currently doing. Most employers understand that the skills are transferrable even if the work is not in their industry.
- Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
- Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
- Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
- Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
- Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
- Consider volunteering.
Note: Gaining experience may be important but not at the expense of your studies. Make sure you do not overload your timetable with unrealistic work commitments.
Opportunities for Bachelor of Social Work exist in a wide range of areas within small, medium, and large organisations and institutions such as health services, welfare agencies, advocacy groups, government departments and private practice. Below are some examples of major organisations who recruit Bachelor of Social Work graduates.
- ActionAid Australia (International)
- Amnesty International (International)
- Anglican Care (Australia)
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (Australia)
- Australian Council for International Development (International)
- Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (Australia)
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Australia)
- Brotherhood of St Laurence (Australia)
- Camp Breakaway (Australia)
- Centrecare (Australia)
- Centrelink (Australia)
- Department of Families, Housing, Communities and Indigenous Affairs (Australia)
- Department of Health and Ageing (Australia)
- Department of Human Services (Australia)
- Department of Immigration and Citizenship (Australia)
- Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government (Australia)
- Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australia)
- Hunter New England Health (Australia)
- Hunter Women's Centre (Australia)
- MacKillop Family Services (Australia)
- Mercy Corps (International)
- Migrant Resource Centres (Australia)
- Mission Australia (Australia)
- National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) (Australia)
- National Native Title Tribunal (Australia)
- New Lake Peer Support (Australia)
- New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council (Australia)
- Northern Settlement Services (Australia)
- NSW Department of Aboriginal Affairs (Australia)
- NSW Department of Community Services (Australia)
- NSW Department of Health (Australia)
- NSW Department of Juvenile Justice (Australia)
- NSW Local Government (Australia)
- Oxfam (International)
- Raymond Terrace Neighbourhood Centre (Australia)
- Salvation Army (Australia)
- The Samaritans (Australia)
- Sexual Health and Family Planning Australia (Australia)
- St Vincent de Paul (Australia)
- State Government - NSW directory (Australia)
- United Nations High Commission for Refugees (International)
- Women's Refuges (Australia)
Some large organisations have specific graduate recruitment programs designed to employ the pick of graduates each year. You must be in your final year of study or recently completed to apply for these programs. The timing of these recruitment drives varies and may occur at any point in the academic year, in some cases starting as early as the first few weeks of the first semester or trimester.
Find out if employers in your area/s of interest have graduate programs, when they typically recruit and what recruitment methods they use. Check with the Careers Service .
Job Prospects and Salary
For up-to-date information please see Job Outlook Australia. This site provides basic Australian labour market information including job prospects, skills requirements and salaries. You might try some of the classifications below as a guide on this site.
Societies and Associations
Associations and societies often provide relevant and up to date information about a variety of issues relating to specific industry sectors. These can be a good starting point to learn more about occupations through profiles, industry news, links to academic journals and information on research developments. Many also offer student membership, conference and professional development activities, newsletters and the opportunity to participate in projects.
- The Association of Children's Welfare Agencies (Australia)
- Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) (Australia)
- Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) (Australia)
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (Australia)
Don’t overlook student societies and associations. As well as student chapters of professional associations, some faculties or schools have discipline based student associations. Check your school or faculty web site; perhaps you might start one if one doesn’t exist.
Some academic disciplines run Seminar Programs that involve regular seminars presented by University of Newcastle academics, visiting academics and postgraduate students. Check your schools website for the timetable.
Job Search Sites
Searching job sites is a good way to gain an understanding of: industries recruiting professionals in this field; types of roles and the requirements or expectations of employers for these roles. There are many online job search sites, here are a few to start with:
Australian and International
- CareerHub: the University of Newcastle Careers Service careers and job search site for enrolled students and graduates.
- CareerOne: Australia wide job listings, all levels and industries including executive positions
- MyCareer: Australian and international listings
- Seek: comprehensive Australian job listings, also includes New Zealand and UK listings
- The Big Chair: Management and Executive Jobs
Graduate Attributes and Employability
Graduate attributes for the Bachelor of Social Work are the skills, abilities and knowledge sets that are highly sought after in the industry. Below is the complete list of attributes that graduates will have demonstrated upon the completion of the degree.
- Understanding of society, how it has developed and how it is organised.
- Knowledge of social welfare arrangements, their history and organisation and of the law in Australia.
- Knowledge of individual behaviour and development within social contexts.
- Ability to analyse macro, meso and micro causal impacts on human life.
- Knowledge and skill in the range of social work interventions: interpersonal practice, advocacy, groupwork, community work, social action, research and social policy.
- Competence in interpersonal , communication, negotiation and mediation skills.
- Skills in reflective and critical thinking and analysis, data collection and management.
- Skills in the assessment of social work practice situations and ability to make informed judgements about appropriate interventions and responses.
- Skills in recognising and analysing ethical issues and adherence to the AASW code of ethics.
- Ability to analyse the social, political, economic, historic, cultural and ecological factors impacting upon social work practice contexts, giving particular attention to dimensions of power and disadvantage.