The University of Newcastle, Australia


Friday, 14 November 2014

Nine local community agencies were presented with groupwork programs put together by third-year social work students earlier this week.

Social work students at a presentation

ASPIRE, one work integrated learning project in the Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) at the University of Newcastle, involves student groups working in partnership with local human service agencies to establish a program to implement in the agency.

A total of 37 programs have been created since ASPIRE was added to the program in 2010 and this year two agencies received a program to complement one created for them in a previous year.

This year attracted interest from 17 agencies and nine were selected including Headspace Maitland, Life Without Barriers and Department of Human Services-Centrelink.

A presentation was held on Wednesday November 12 at the University where students gave a brief overview of their program and presented their agency with the package.

"The presentation is an important part of the project as it provides students opportunity to celebrate their achievement and showcase their work to peers, social workers in the field, and other university staff," said Social Work Lecturer Lou Johnston.

"The programs are developed in a very short time frame of seven weeks and provide experience of real practice demands such as workload management, team mediation, and client negotiation. All the students work extremely hard to develop their program and come up with some fantastic ideas informed by literature on the topic and client group," she added.

The programs were designed to be implemented with a range of groups including older women who have or are experiencing domestic violence, young parents, and families or carers looking after a loved one with Borderline Personality Disorder or a child who is bereaved.

Social Work student Harrison Saich and his group developed the Connecting Heads and Connecting Hearts Alliance (C.H.A.C.H.A) program that focused on Borderline Personality Disorder to address the stigma and social constructions surrounding mental illness.

"We all just wanted to create something that our agency (ARAFMI) and our group could be proud of. Creating such a mammoth piece of work while juggling other commitments was quite an effort, but I think the stress is the ultimate test for us as future social workers," said Harrison.

"The best part of the process was learning that we had something to offer. We finally had a chance to put everything we have learnt during the degree into play and, despite the exhaustion, we are so proud of what we achieved," he added.

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