Field education is a core component and a major part of a student's professional identity development. It provides an opportunity for students to observe, question and model social work behaviour, to translate theory into practice, and to apply knowledge from other subjects.
In order to meet the requirements of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), students must complete 1000 hours of supervised field education. This is undertaken in two placements at approved agencies, with contrasting client focus and using a range of practice methods. Each placement is normally of 15.5 weeks duration. By the end of the field placement component, the successful student will have identified and developed social work knowledge and skills to work competently in a broad range of social work settings.
The School of Allied Health regards practice competence as more than the demonstration of specific knowledge and skills. It is the application of knowledge and skills within the value framework of respect for, and enhancement of, the individual.
ACU provides insurance coverage for students undertaking unpaid industry experience on their field education placement. Please download our current insurance coverage document (PDF, 96KB) for more information.
Field education learning outcomes
By the end of the social work program, the student is expected to be able to meet the following learning outcomes:
1. Professional identity The ability to adhere to ethical standards of practice in working with individuals, groups, communities, in research contexts or policy formation contexts, as articulated by the AASW Code of Ethics, the ability to understand power relationships and authority in the workplace and to manage one's own practice accordingly.
2. Self-learning and professional development The ability to participate in and utilise professional supervision as a means of supporting and enhancing ethical practice, the awareness of one's own learning needs, the ability to process one's feelings and experiences, skills of critical reflection, skills of workload management and the commitment to continual theoretical knowledge and skill development through processes of continuing education.
3. Organisational context Knowledge about the organisational, legal and political contexts of practice, and about the current debates that inform practice, the ability to appropriately manage service provision and practice in ways that meet the needs of individuals, groups and communities in society, organisational goals and community expectations of the service, and the ability to apply knowledge of organisational systems and processes and societal systems to identify inequalities and act to reduce social barriers, inequality and injustice.
4. Use of knowledge in practice Awareness of core areas of social work knowledge that inform the ability to make assessments, decide on appropriate interventions and appropriately use methods of intervention.
5. Processes, skills and relationships The ability to engage with individuals, groups and communities in society and apply social work knowledge and skills to meet needs, to enable clients to develop their potential and to foster their greater control over their lives, including sound communication skills, interviewing skills, assessment, intervention and referral skills, evaluation skills and group and team-work skills.
6. Social Policy The ability to apply social work knowledge and skills to identify inappropriate or inequitable policy goals and outcomes, the ability to promote and implement policies which achieve equity and effective distribution of social resources.
7. Research An understanding of social work research and its applications, skills of engaging stakeholders in research to address the needs and aspirations of individuals, groups and communities in society, promote organisational goals and contribute to social policy debates, methodological and analytical skills in social work research, and the ability to communicate and disseminate research findings.