Social Work

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Undergraduate Degree

Description

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.

Professional Accreditation

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.

View our Bachelor of Social Work in the Program Handbook and the online prospectus What Can I Study?.

Further Study Options

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:

Postgraduate Study:

Research
Masters by Research
PhD
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.

Coursework
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/

 

Sample Jobs

Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) graduates can find employment in a variety of roles in many different types of organisations. The list below provides typical job titles for Social Work graduates.

Some of these jobs will depend upon the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, and the combination of other majors and electives studied, for example some may require further study.

Not everyone uses their degree in the same way and the transferable skills gained through university study may allow graduates to pursue a range of careers that might not be directly linked to their study. Below is a sample list of job titles that might be suitable for graduates with the skills gained upon completion of the Bachelor of Social Work (Honours).

Some of these jobs will depend upon the amount and level of study undertaken, level of experience, and the combination of other majors and electives studied, for example some may require further study.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Check your academic program for any courses that involve a placement or the opportunity to undertake an industry based project.
  3. Check your school for Summer Scholarships for research opportunities.
  4. Check vacancy sites for advertised traineeships, part time employment and vacation work opportunities in your field.
  5. Source and approach organisations directly about possible work shadowing or information interview opportunities.
  6. Source and approach organisations directly for paid work opportunities.
  7. 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.

 

Sample Employers

Opportunities for Bachelor of Social Work graduates 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.

Check employers' websites for a section called Employment, Careers, Graduate Programs or similar titles. Some of these employers may offer vacation work opportunities.

Recruitment Timing

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 .

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.


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.

Australian

  • 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

International

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.

Graduate Attributes

  1. Understanding of society, how it has developed and how it is organised.
  2. Knowledge of social welfare arrangements, their history and organisation and of the law in Australia.
  3. Knowledge of individual behaviour and development within social contexts.
  4. Ability to analyse macro, meso and micro causal impacts on human life.
  5. Knowledge and skill in the range of social work interventions: interpersonal practice, advocacy, groupwork, community work, social action, research and social policy.
  6. Competence in interpersonal , communication, negotiation and mediation skills.
  7. Skills in reflective and critical thinking and analysis, data collection and management.
  8. Skills in the assessment of social work practice situations and ability to make informed judgements about appropriate interventions and responses.
  9. Skills in recognising and analysing ethical issues and adherence to the AASW code of ethics.
  10. 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.