This is from http://www.aasw.asn.au/information-for-the-community/what-is-social-work:
“The social work profession facilitates social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work. Underpinned by theories of social work, social sciences, humanities and indigenous knowledges, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance wellbeing.” (March 2013). (AASW, 2014).
Basically social works base line is humans rights and social justice. “Social workers work with individuals, families, groups and communities in the context of their physical, social and cultural environments; their past and current lived experiences, and their cultural and belief systems.” (AASW, 2014). Actually, if you go to the link above, the whole page says it all better than what I could (for a complete, whole definition). But please also read my stuff below.
The most common response I get when I tell people I’m studying to become a social worker is something along the lines of counselling. Most people view a social worker as just a counsellor and although in some cases that is correct and in many fields a social worker will draw upon counselling skills. Social work isn’t counselling, that is just one small aspect of social work and one field of which a social worker can work within. I, myself, I do not see myself becoming a counsellor after graduation, I wouldn’t rule it out, but at this point in time it’s not the career path I’m looking for.
The second most common response or view point I hear about peoples perceptions of a social worker is someone who works within the department of child services. Someone who removes children from troubled homes. This is true too, yes, as a social worker this is a field that I am able to work within and in fact is also in high demand for social workers because the work is very strenuous, emotional and tiring. Therefore, there are a lot of burn outs and there’s a high staff turn over. Although I have interest in this field and would like to work within this area in maybe ten years time. It’s actually not on my plans for the near future.
So what am I going to do as a social worker then, you ask?
There are soooooo many options out there for a social worker. Many many different areas and many different aspects and positions within those areas.
I could work with youth. I could work with youth within school, outside of school, with many different organistions, youth within families. youth as individual clients, youth as a group of service users. I’m not planning on it but that was an example of what I mean by different areas and different aspects. At this point in time though (and what I’ll be doing start of July for my field placement) I am interested in working with older people. In what context, I am not sure of at the moment and I will see where I go for field placement, but apparently there are a lot out there and there aren’t in retirement homes. One possibility is that I might be able to work in a legal aid office, providing help and advocating for older people in a legal setting (which sounds really cool, I hope I get that).
Another avenue that I would really like to explore (after working with older people) is working within hospitals. As a social worker (within which ever area of the hospital) I would probably be advocating for the patients desires and also working with the patient with whatever help they may require and also providing people with information. Those three aspects are usually found within any social work job and are actually quite beneficial to clients to have a social worker walk along side them. Anyway, I hope that helps. I’m not very good at articulating myself, so I apologise for that. But if you have any questions feel free to ask me. There are still many areas of social work and social work postions that I’m unaware of, so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to have a better grasp of social work myself when I fully get into the field.