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About Social Work

Social Work Services, Counselling, Referral, Mediation & Therapy

What is social work?

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) currently adheres to the following definition of social work that is jointly endorsed by the International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) and International Association of School of Social Work (IASSW):

Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes 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 knowledge, social work engages people and structures to address life challenges and enhance well-being (July 2014).

What do social workers do?

The social work profession in Australia is broad and diverse but consistent to all practice is a commitment to human 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 experiences, and their cultural and belief systems.

In all contexts, social workers maintain a dual focus on both assisting with and improving human well-being and identifying and addressing any external issues (known as system or structural issues) that may impact on well-being or may create inequality, injustice and discrimination. 


Social workers may undertake roles in casework, counselling, advocacy, community engagement and development and social action to address issues at both the personal and social level. Social workers also work in areas such as policy development, education and research particularly around issues of social justice, disadvantage and the marginalisation of people in their communities or in society.

Where do social workers work?

Social workers are employed in a diverse range of government, non-government and community agencies such as hospitals, community health centres, early intervention and child protection programs, family support services, schools, employment services, justice, housing, disability and aged care services. An increasing number of social workers are now working in private practice.

Who sets the standards for social workers?

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is the professional body for Australian social workers, responsible for setting and maintaining the standards of practice. The AASW also sets the standards for social work education in Australia and accredits social work courses in Australian Universities.


What qualifications/credentials should I look for in a social worker?

  • Tertiary degree in social work.

  • Membership of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW).

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