Social Work grad in action: Making a difference in marginalised communities

17 September 2020
Meet 2015 Bachelor of Social Work graduate, Murray Kamara
Based on his own experiences as a refugee, Murray passionately believed in human rights and social justice well before attending uni. By undertaking a BSW he gained the formal training to effectively support and advocate for individuals from a diversity of backgrounds.

Why did you choose the University of Sydney?

I chose to study a Bachelor of Social Work at USYD because the university has a history of delivering beyond expectations.

USYD has an outstanding reputation and offers a program that focuses on developing meaningful skills and approaches to problem solving that have proven essential in the field.

Since arriving in Australia, I knew I wanted to become a social worker.

I experienced the horrors of a civil war at an early age. My background as a refugee, and the passion to work with people in disadvantaged backgrounds, prepared me to study such a meaningful and rewarding degree.

As a social work student, you will have the opportunity to explore different pathways. If you are looking for a career that is meaningful and hands-on; then, consider social work.
Social Work graduate, Murray Kamara

Murray's advice for those thinking of studying a Bachelor of Social Work

Lots of people think social work is a profession that seeks to address poverty and child welfare issues. Social work goes beyond that, it is a very broad field that will see you work with people of every age and background.

Throughout your degree, you need to use your curiosity and emotional intelligence to understand people and their societies. You will be exposed to topics that are challenging, confronting and tragic.

You are not alone in this, almost all social work students will experience the same situation. With a positive mindset and excellent support from the extraordinary academic staff and field placement supervisors you will be overcome all hurdles.

The staff at USYD are well experienced and will prepare you for your placement.

At the beginning of my final year placement, one of my lectures, Dr Susan Heward-Belle said, “as social workers you have to develop the heart of a surgeon”. She was right.

As a social worker you are always involved in making critical decisions that may seem daunting; it starts from the onset of your degree. I encountered things that were challenging and new to me, but with resilience and creativity, I was able to overcome those challenges.

When did you know you had made the right decision?

On my first placement, working with asylum seekers, I knew I was in the right place.

I had the opportunity to meet people who share similar experiences to mine and needed the sort of help I could offer. The scope of the placement helped me to showcase my talents and exposed me to variety of social work networks. 

What were your tutors like during your course?

The staff are dedicated and well experienced educators with wide range of specialities in social work. They are passionate about the course and are committed to support students throughout their field placements. 

The teaching experience is excellent and one of the highlights of studying social work at USYD. The tutors have strong theoretical knowledge and train you to understand different social work frameworks.
Social Work graduate, Murray Kamara

They help students navigate placements that suit their educational needs. We were provided excellent training that helped us develop the skills needed in the field.

What’s happened since graduation?

Social Work graduate, Murray Kamara, standing outside the Quad on his graduation day.

Murray outside the Quad on his graduation day.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in different social work environments from a junior caseworker to a supervisory role, from working on the frontlines to advocacy.

I have worked as a caseworker and a program coordinator assisting asylum seekers in community detention, navigating services to support them.

I am currently working as a therapeutic caseworker working with children who have experienced significant harm, trauma, family breakdown and significant mental health issues.

No other course would have prepared me to work with such a disadvantage group.

Outside of my formal role, I am actively involved in community advocacy and community development projects. I am a founding member of the African Australian Advocacy Centre and act in other leadership roles in numerous African communities, youth and sport groups.

What does a day in the life of a social worker look like?

The day of a social worker can be unique, but may change depending on the client needs, agency programs, meetings and other underlying factors. Some social workers have a more flexible routine than others.

On a normal day, a social worker’s routine encompasses meetings with clients and stakeholders, interviews and assessments with clients, and other administrative tasks.

Clinical social workers, child and family social worker or a health care social worker can be varied – almost all prioritise their day around the most striking needs of their clients.

How does your BSW support the work you do now?

My training has equipped me with the knowledge and theoretical frameworks to understand social issues and how to help. I’ve been trained to offer self-determination and improved quality of life to people from disadvantage backgrounds.

The degree has also opened the door to meet and work with other professionals who are also committed to justice.

Thinking of studying Social Work?

Click here to check out this explainer for answers to all your freqently asked questions. 

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