For social work students hands-on field placements make up 30 percent of the degree – around 1000 hours of practical experience - and is referred to as “the signature pedagogy” for social work education. But ongoing lockdowns has made face-to-face internships very difficult, if not impossible.
“Not being able to send students in these degrees out into the field has emotional, logistical and financial implications for their course progression,” said Dr Margaret Spencer, Field Education Director. “It also has implications for workforce numbers across health and human and community services.”
Dr Spencer, who anticipates a greater need for social work in response to the impact of COVID on individuals and communities, has come up with a creative solution.
To foster professional networks between emerging social workers and the industry, University of Sydney in collaboration with the NSW Combined Universities Field Education Group (CUFEG) is hosting a Monday afternoon Seminar Series.
The two-hour online workshops count towards students’ placement requirements and provide supplementary learning opportunities for students impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.
This seminar series also serves to address the isolation experienced by students working remotely, foster the importance of professional relationships and promote the importance of ongoing professional development and learning beyond the classroom.
Giving someone news that may distress or hurt them is never easy yet is fundamental to the role of a social worker. In this seminar two experts in their field will explore having critical conversations with both adults and children and young people. Led by Dr Margaret Spencer.
Social workers have a key role to play in working with grief and loss experiences for children that goes beyond death and dying. This seminar will be facilitated by an expert in childhood grief with a focus on grief and loss within the child protections and Out of Home Care system. Led by Manny Kassiotis (Cara House).
The seminar series is open to all social work students currently undertaking placement at any of the 11 accredited social work programs in NSW.
“Placing students relies on the good will and generosity of our social worker colleagues out in the field,” said Dr Spencer, on the importance of the industry connections. “Over the past 18 months, the Social Work Field Education team has worked closely with our colleagues out in the field, including alumni of our program.”
The core attributes of social work practice - generosity, creativity, flexibility and innovation in the face of adversity – has enabled students to progress and to ensure there is a well-trained workforce for the many people who are going to need social work in our post lockdown society, said Dr Spencer.