Do you care about people? Do you want to make other people’s lives better? Do you want to help the vulnerable, oppressed and those living in poverty?
Social work might be a career that you find fulfilling and satisfying.
What Does a Social Worker Do?
A social worker can pursue a wide variety of different careers. There’s counselling, casework, advocacy and work in the community.
Basically, these roles are about helping support people and communities to overcome a situation or problem that they can’t on their own.
Social work covers a huge number of avenues:
- drug and alcohol/ addiction
- care for the elderly
- child protection
- disability services
- income support
- judicial and corrections
- health care, including mental health care
- youth work
Career Opportunities in Social Work
There are a wide variety of occupations for social work graduates to investigate. The degree can be incredibly versatile and lead down many pathways:
As a community worker, you’ll be in an at-risk community, developing initiatives and solutions to address their needs, challenges and problems.
This can be across housing, employment, recreation, health and welfare.
Drug and Alcohol Counsellors
D&A counsellors work in prison, residential in-patient, and commercial premises. They support and provide treatment for people suffering from alcohol and drug dependency issues.
It’s about creating strategies to set positive goals, and then maintain positive change in their lives.
Advocating for those with intellectual, social, physical and emotional disabilities is a challenging role.
It’s matching their needs with their life in the community so everyone has fulfilling lives, to the best of their abilities.
PO roles manage offenders on community based sentences or following release from prison.
You’ll ensure they comply with the terms of their sentence, work with the courts to address any breaches, and suggest relevant therapeutic programs if needed.
Assist families, groups and individuals to deal with a complex range of financial, social and emotional problems.
This often is by education, support, and helping them change their environment.
Young people have complex needs that are often not met by existing social systems. Social workers assist youth to solve financial and emotional problems within an agency framework.
Careers are not limited to these areas, but this gives a cross section of the industry and touches on some of the areas social workers can delve into.
Why Study in Australia?
There’s plenty of reasons for people to head to Australia to study.
Aside from the benefits of studying abroad, there’s the fantastic Aussie lifestyle, internationally recognised courses from some of the best learning institutions in the world, and a future path for your career.
Social Work Course Fees in Australia
The cost of a social work undergraduate course differs depending on the provider you choose. An approximate cost for an undergraduate degree is somewhere between AU$22,400 and $44,000 per year for course fees.
Living costs in Australia can be more expensive than other countries. A year of rent, food, power, phone and transport will cost anywhere upwards of $21,000.
There are international student scholarships available. These can cover a variety of aspects of study, from a reduction in course fees through to full board and fee cover.
Contact your university of choice to see the options available, or check out the Australian government provided scholarships.
Social Work Salary Expectations
Salaries vary depending on seniority, what speciality you work in, and where you’re based.
An entry-level position starts at AU$69,000 and the average salary is a touch over $100,000. Top levels of social workers can expect up to $120,000.
Types of Social Work Courses You Can Do in Australia
To be employed as a social worker in Australia, you need a minimum of a Bachelor of Social Work. This course provides theory as well as clinical work experience.
This course is three to four years and gives you transferable skills that allow you to work in a range of settings. It also makes you eligible to apply for membership to the Australian Association of Social Workers.
There is also a Masters of Social Work. This two year postgraduate degree takes your existing skills and qualifications and builds on them to specialise in an area of your choice.
It allows you to work with more challenging and at-risk people. It also ensures you remain competitive in the job market.
To apply for these courses, you must meet minimum English language requirements for your university. There will also be minimum entry requirements for your education levels, and this differs across courses and institutions.
Top Three Social Work Courses in Australia
If you are considering moving to Australia to study social work, the following three institutions offer good teaching and are highly respected in this field:
- Curtin University offers a Bachelor of Social Work that consistently ranks highly in the Good Universities Guide 2020. It received five-star ratings in the quality of teaching, learner engagement, skills development, learning resources and salary.
- The University of Queensland’s Bachelor of Social Work (Honours) is an internationally recognised program that’s accredited by Australia’s social work association.
- Southern Cross University offers a Masters of Social Work that is ideal for those with a Bachelor’s degree and previous experience in the field. There’s in-depth study in child protection, health issues in Indigenous communities, social policy and law, and leadership.
Social Work is a Pathway to Future Success
With an ever-changing role, day to day contact with at-risk people and groups, and the ability to change lives, social work is not for the faint of heart.
For international students, social work also represents a path to PR through skilled work visas. Social work can be incredibly challenging, but fulfilling.