Social work

Social work

Social workers support people to make change in their lives to improve their personal and social well-being. This happens by identifying issues that require change and connecting people with support such as secure housing or family therapy. Social workers have knowledge of human behaviour and development, life cycle stages, families and social networks, disability and health, including mental health.

Where do social workers practise?

Social workers work in a wide range of public and private settings including community health centres, and public and private hospitals, aged care facilities, education facilities, mental health settings; alcohol and drug services, private clinics and non-government organisations, refugee facilities, correctional institutions, universities and research facilities, group homes, supported employment and government departments.

When should I see a social worker?

There are a wide range of reasons to see a social worker. Issues social workers typically become involved in are family dysfunction, parenting difficulties, child abuse, trauma, disability, unemployment, mental health problems, alcohol or drug addiction or unstable accommodation arrangements.

What services do social workers provide?

Social workers offer a broad range of services to individuals or groups. From a primary health perspective, typical social worker services include:

  • Personal and family counselling or therapies and group work
  • Service information and facilitated referral or linking to relevant services
  • Service coordination or care management
  • Advocacy with individuals, families and particularly people experiencing social disadvantage.

How are social workers qualified?

In order to practise, social workers must meet the following requirements:

  • Complete a four year undergraduate degree or a two year Master’s degree accredited by the Australian Association of Social Workers
  • Complete continuing professional development
  • Meet requirements set out by the Association of Social Workers to comply with the Code of Ethics and Practice Standards
  • Accredited Mental Health Social Workers (AMHSW) have acquired additional specialist training and skills in assisting people with diagnosed mental health conditions.

Social work is a self-regulated profession which is in the process of seeking national registration.

Further information

For more detailed information about social work, please visit the Australian Association of Social Workers website.

 Find a social worker

The Australian Association of Social Workers has a Find a Social Worker service that can be accessed here.

Many social workers are also listed in the National Health Services Directory.