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What is a Social Worker?

Date of Posting: 03-10-2010

A social worker is an Allied Health professional who helps people at times of crisis. Their clients may include families, students, hospital patients or the elderly.

Social workers can provide their clients with practical support, counselling, information and emotional support. They can suggest different ways of looking at the problem and will be able to give their client the information they need in order to make a difference to their life.
For example, if a client was suffering from domestic violence and saw a social worker, the social worker would be able to give the client a list of refuges where the client could escape to if she wanted to leave the family home and had nowhere to go.
Social workers can help with problems such as homelessness, domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction, sexual assault
and child abuse. They can also help people who have suffered a major crisis or are going through a bereavement. 
Social workers can help clients find government housing, help them obtain any Centrelink entitlements and generally assist with their financial matters if required.
A social worker may counsel university students who are suffering from stress, anxiety, relationship problems or depression. A student may be undecided whether the degree they’re studying for is the right choice. Seeing a student counsellor at university (social worker) and talking through their options may help the student to see things more clearly and enable him or her to make the right decision regarding their education.
A social worker’s role is to provide analytical skills, to feel comfortable interacting with people, helping them and being mature emotionally. Social work can be a very demanding job and may be emotionally draining at times, as you will be making decisions about people’s lives and the decisions you make will affect them. You will also be working with other health professionals from time to time. Social workers can work in a variety of settings, such as Centrelink, universities, hospitals, prisons, government departments and child protection.
How do you become a social worker?
You need to complete a four year, full time degree in social work. The Bachelor of Social Work is offered at universities throughout Australia. Once you have completed your undergraduate degree, you may be interested in obtaining your postgraduate degree, the Master of Social Work which is a full time, two year course.
Before you study social work at university, you may be interested in volunteering for organisations such as Lifeline or Kids Help Line, to gain some much need counselling experience, and to see if you really are suited to social work. You will also gain “hands on” experience during your university course.
Once you are a qualified social worker, you will need to be eligible to join the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). It’s important that the university course you undertake is AASW accredited.
If you have a passion for helping people, have good analytical abilities and are emotionally mature, then a career as a social worker may be very satisfying for you.
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