• Study Social Work and Counselling. Photo credit: Monash UniversityStudy Social Work and Counselling. Photo credit: Monash University

Social workers work to meet and overcome social issues facing individuals, families and communities in today’s society. They operate in a huge range of different settings, including statutory child protection, family intervention, interpersonal and family violence, health social work, addictions, disability services, social policy, prisons, mental health and counselling services.

In order to qualify as a social worker in Australia or New Zealand you must complete a four-year professional degree, the Bachelor of Social Work. This is widely offered throughout Australia and New Zealand. Degrees are registered with and recognised by the relevant professional bodies: the Australian Association of Social Workers and the Social Workers Registration Board of New Zealand.

Psychology, sociology for social services, professional communication skills, problem-solving and facilitating change and progress in human relationships through counselling are all key elements to social work study at degree level. Practical placements are also very important, and students should expect to undertake fieldwork in different settings to put their learning into practice. Different degrees may also offer the opportunity to specialise in a particular area of social work, for example child and family practice, youth services practice or health social work practice.

It is not possible to study an undergraduate degree in counselling (though other degrees, such as a Bachelor of Human Services, offer strong elements of similar study).

At postgraduate level a range of options are available.

Those who have already qualified as social workers (in the UK or elsewhere) and who want to develop their skills in a particular area can enrol on a Master of Social Work. Please note that these courses often require you to have a minimum of one year’s professional work experience in order to apply.

Students who have a degree in a different field and who wish to retrain and qualify as social workers have the option of enrolling on a professional Masters programme – this allows you to complete and qualify in 2 years rather than the 4 years required for the Bachelor of Social Work. Please contact a Study Options advisor for more information or to check whether your undergraduate degree background will be considered suitable for entry.

There are lots of opportunities to undertake postgraduate study in counselling in both Australia and New Zealand. Depending on their focus, these courses may have an emphasis on psychology, education or social work. Entry requirements vary, but a degree in the social sciences is the most common standard. Practical professional experience, whether paid or voluntary, is often desirable.