How to Become a Social Worker in Australia in 2021!

How to become a Social Worker in Australia

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Are you passionate about helping other people and making an impact in their life? If so, the career of Social Worker may be for you! Social workers are a group of professionals that want to make a real difference in people’s lives and right now, is also one of the most demanded professions in Australia. For that reason, we put together a guide to help you become a social worker in Australia.
By following 3 steps you can become a registered Social worker and start helping people through your career. These are: 1. Complete a degree in Social work from an accredited University,  2. Apply for registration with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), Step 3. Start working on your selected field. 

To understand better these steps, and everything you’ll have to know to start working in this exciting career, continue reading below!

Introduction to being a Social Worker in Australia

In Australia, Social work is a very broad field of study and work. This means that social workers perform a variety of tasks and work in many different fields. 

Social work is also one of the fastest growing occupations in Australia, and it is in high demand worldwide. There are many work opportunities in private and public sectors, such as in NGOs and more. By working in Social work you will get a personal experience with your community and be able to volunteer for groups and charities all over the world if you want to.

Why become a social worker in Australia?

Social workers are instinctively drawn to people who are most in need. The satisfaction you get from ensuring that your work improves people’s lives and helps them reach their full potential is unparalleled. Nothing can make you happier than watching those you helped use the same social work values to support others. 

If you are interested in this profession make sure to watch this TED Talk Video!

Major Duties and Tasks

Typical work tasks for social workers include:

  • Collaborate with other practitioners to determine individual needs and analyse patients’ mental or physical conditions;
  • Help patients overcome crises and advocate for them.
  • Refer a patient, individual, or family to community support to help them heal from psychiatric or physical illnesses.
  • Help patients gain access to programmes like financial aid, legal aid, shelter, work placement, or school.
  • Investigate allegations of child abuse or neglect and, whenever needed, report it to authorities.
  • In individual and group meetings, counsel individuals and patients to help them resolve addictions, heal from sickness, and return to life.
  • Plan the transition from the care centre to the home of the patient or another care facility.
  • Manage and train staff
  • Advocate to change social welfare policies and procedures in the pursuit of social justice for all members of the community.
  • Coordinating treatment planning and maintaining ongoing contact with outpatient providers for the continual care of patients
  • Actively participating in ongoing training as needed in order to meet all certification standards and credentialing policies

3 Steps to Become a Social worker in Australia

Step 1. Complete a degree in Social work from an accredited University

There are 2 main pathways that you can follow to complete your study requirements to become a Social Worker in Australia. Those are:

Pathway 1 – Bachelor Degree Studies in Social Work

To work as a social worker in Australia, you must complete an AASW accredited Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work.

The entry requirements for this course may change depending on the institution although generally you will need to have completed an Australian Year 12 or equivalent and a formal English language test(which can be an IELTS test or other valid test).

Also, if you want more information about the entry requirements of your chosen course, make sure to contact your university.

Note: Many institutions offer this course at different price ranges, see below the list of approved institutions

Pathway 2 – Master’s Degree in Social Work (postgraduate degree). 

By finishing an AASW Master’s Degree in Social Work you can also become a registered Social Worker. This course can take up to two years to finish. 

By holding a Master’s Degree in Social Work, you will also be a more competitive professional, be able to secure a better pay, and have more work opportunities ahead.

The requirements for this course can vary depending on the institution but generally are:

  • An bachelor’s degree with at least one year of full-time studies in social sciences or equivalent
  • Meet the university’s English language requirements.

Step  2. Apply for registration with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW)

After finishing an accredited Bachelor Degree or a Master’s Degree in Social Work, you will be eligible to apply for the registration with the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW). They are the professional representative body of social workers in Australia.

The application is a straightforward process and can be done online through this link.

If you haven’t completed your studies in Australia you can also apply for registration given that you meet the eligibility requirements. To have more information about it, view the full AASW registration requirements on this link

Step 3. Start working on your selected field. 

After registering with the AASW you will be able to work as an accredited Social worker.

Obtaining additional work experience will be an essential step to be able to access managerial roles.

With many years of experience, social workers will then be allowed to work in management, academia, and other specialised fields such as science, family counselling, and behavioural health.

Colleges and Institutions offering APAC approved Psychology courses

To be able to apply for registration as a Social Worker and also access migration opportunities through the profession, you must complete an accredited AASW study program. 

The main institutions that offer this course, by state are:

To see the full list of AASW accredited courses visit this website.

Working as a Social worker in Australia

If you are also looking for a job that is in need at the moment, then this profession is for you. Over the last five years, the number of people employed as Social Workers (as their primary occupation) has increased dramatically: from 30,400 in 2014 to 40,300 in 2019.

Also, the demand is growing due to the effects that the COVID19 crisis had in society. For this reason, the higher demand also means a higher compensation if you are qualified in the profession, especially if you are looking to work in urban areas and larger cities.

See below information about this profession:

  • Location: Social Workers are manly concerned in 4 states: South Australia, Queensland, New south wales and Victoria.
  • Industries: Most of the professionals in this field  work in Health Care and Social Assistance, Education and Training and Public Administration and Safety;
  • Age: The average age is 42 years (compared to the average of 40 years).
  • Gender: 84% of workers are female (compared to the average of 48%).

Salary of Social Work professionals in Australia

Full time Social workers generally earn an annual salary in AUS for a Social Worker is between $75k and $85k, an average of AUD $1,829 per week. 

Career Opportunities

Social workers can work in a variety of environments and scenarios in Australia. Below are the main ones:

  • Addiction: Social workers in this field help people that may be addicted to medications like alcohol and drugs, gambling, and others.
  • Aged care: A social work in this sector will help people of age by caring for them, with daily tasks, and help them to regain control of their lives. 
  • Child Protection: Social Workers in this field will care for children who are at risk of, or are actually suffering, neglect, violence, or abuse.
  • Cultural groups: By working in this sector, social workers can understand the problems that the group faces, and help them overcome them
  • Disability: Social workers that work in the disability community help people with disabilities, as well as their family, caregivers, and significant others, gain access to adequate services and enjoy meaningful lives.
  • Domestic violence: A social worker in this field will help people affected by domestic violence through counseling, putting in place safety plans, organising emergency housing, and more.
  • Family and relationship services: Workers in this field will help people build healthier relationships and families.
  • Hospitals: Social workers will help Individuals and their families in hospital settings as they come to terms with accidents and diseases, as well as the impact these have on their whole lives.
  • Housing/Homelessness/Crisis Support: Workers will help people who lose their housing, experiencing unemployment, poverty, relationship breakdowns, criminal behavior, and more.
  • Justice: Social workers will evaluate and treat convicted offenders, as well as help families deal with the changes that have occurred in their lives.
  • Mental Health: Workers in this field are usually employed by community mental health organisations or acute care hospitals.
  • Youth work: This work involves helping young people aged 12 – 25 years old, with the problems they may experience. 

Migration opportunities as a Social Workers in Australia

As discussed above, Social work is one of the fastest-growing positions in Australia, and it is in high demand worldwide. This is also a profession that can allow you to migrate to Australia, or if you are already here, help you stay permanently. For that reason, If you are considering following this profession these are 3 Steps to migrate as a Social Worker in Australia.

Step 1 – Assess your qualifications

As a Social Worker in Australia, you will need to undergo a Skill Assessment, to ensure you qualify for the profession.

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is the only body in Australia that can assess Social Workers qualifications for migration to Australia under these categories. 

Getting a positive skill assessment with a qualification from Australia:

You can apply for a skills assessment through the AASW if you have completed an AASW-accredited Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in Social Work in Australia. 

The AASW must be able to check that you have or are qualified to graduate with a Bachelor of Social Work or a Master of Social Work and meet all the higher education provider requirements. The AASW must also see proof that all applicants for migration skills assessments fulfil the English language criteria of the AASW.

Getting a positive skill assessment with a qualification from overseas:

If you have a qualification obtained overseas you can also get a positive skill assessment. AASW will consider 5 criterias when assessing your qualification obtained:

  1. The degree must be an accredited Social Work qualification.
  2. If you are applying with an overseas qualification, this must be recognised as a specialised social work qualification in your country by the responsible body.
  3. The skilled social work qualification’s learning outcomes are comparable to the learning outcomes required by graduates of AASW-accredited social work programs.
  4. At least 980 hours of field education in at least two placements and with two contrasting practice foci, with a requirement that one placement must be in direct practice.
  5. Demonstrate a high level of English language proficiency

If you want more information on how to get a positive skill assessment, visit the AASW website.

Step 2 – Understand your visa options

Since the profession of Social Worker is on the Medium and Long Term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL), as a registered Social Worker you may be able to access the Skilled Migration Program visas.

There are many visa opportunities for those migrating with the position of Social Worker such as the:

Also, other positions in this field that are in the Skilled Occupation List include Welfare Centre Manager, Welfare Worker, and Community Worker.

Step 3 – Start the migration process

Once you have researched the migration path and opportunities for your profession, you can start the migration process.

For this reason, as some of the visa options will require knowledge of the process and can often be complex, make sure to get in touch with a registered migration agency or education agency that will guide you through the process.  

Final notes

If you are serious about making a difference in society, being a social worker will allow you to help others and make an impact in their lives. It’s not always an easy work, but it can create lasting change for a variety of groups in need.

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