Taking local expertise to the Maldives
Three graduates of the University of Newcastle have been chosen to help teach a new social service worker course in the Maldives, under a program sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Jamie Walker, Heidi Baxter and Nicole Passfield completed a Bachelor of Social Work at the University and will supervise the field placements of students enrolled at the Maldives College of Higher Education.
The students are completing an Advanced Certificate in Social Work, developed in conjunction with the University's discipline of Social Work*.
Dr Debbie Plath, Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University, said social services were in their infancy in the Maldives.
"There is a growing need for trained social service workers in the Maldives as it establishes services and policies relating to children, women, families, aged care, mental health and substance abuse," she said.
The University has been working with UNICEF, the Maldives College of Higher Education and the Maldives Ministry for Gender and Family to develop a training program to address this need.
The Advanced Certificate has been created in part by adapting Australian teaching ideas, resources and learning activities to fit this developing Islamic country.
"It's been fascinating to integrate these Australian practices with Maldivian initiatives and concepts to produce a course that is culturally relevant and responsive to local needs," Dr Plath said.
The 15 Maldivian students enrolled in the Advanced Certificate began their studies in July 2007 and will begin their field placements in the next few weeks.
Mr Walker, Ms Baxter and Ms Passfield will work as consultants and each supervise five students' field placements over the next nine months. They leave Australia this Friday, 15 February.
Dr Debbie Plath, Jamie Walker, Heidi Baxter and Nicole Passfield are all available to speak to media about the project.
*The discipline of Social Work is within the School of Humanities and Social Science, in the Faculty of Education and Arts.
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