What do social workers do?

11th December 2019

Social workers perform an important role in the community, helping disadvantaged and marginalised people access essential services and understand their rights. They also advocate for people experiencing discrimination, injustice, and inequality.

If you have a heart for social justice and human rights but you’re not quite ready to take on a Bachelor’s degree, a Vocational Education and Training (VET) course in social work and community welfare will enable you to get started. We’ll outline a range of qualifications to help you ease your way into this rewarding career path.



Undertaking a VET qualification is a great way to get started as a social worker. The following courses are fully accredited by ASQA and part of the nationally recognised curriculum:

Youth work
CHC50413 Diploma of Youth Work - learn how to develop and implement community based programs for young people.
CHC50313 Diploma of Child, Youth and Family Intervention - learn to how to help children and young people who have experienced complex trauma, then provide support to their families.

Community Services
CHC42015 Certificate IV in Community Services - learn how to help clients access their rights in a range of areas: domestic violence, suicide and crisis situations, gambling, literacy, grief, chronic disease.
CHC52015 Diploma of Community Services - learn how to coordinate complex cases for a range of clients including those in the child protection framework.
CHC62015 Advanced Diploma of Community Sector Management - learn how to establish and manage a community service organisation, then lead a team of case managers.

Mental Health
CHC43315 Certificate IV in Mental Health - learn how to support and activate recovery programs for people affected by mental health issues or diagnosed with a psychiatric disability.
CHC53315 Diploma of Mental Health - gain specialist knowledge of the laws that affect people with a psychiatric disability or mental health problems and help them access the full range of services available to them.

CHC51015 Diploma of Counselling - learn established counselling therapies and apply them to a range of clients, including those in crisis and emergency situations.
CHC53215 Diploma of Alcohol and Other Drugs - learn how to work with clients who are intoxicated or affected by drugs — assessing their needs, activating interventions, and providing counselling.

CAREER QUICK FACTS: Social workers spend a significant portion of their work day talking to people face-to-face. They need advanced skills in verbal communication, therapy and counselling.


Higher Education Pathways

Once you have your VET qualification (and some real world experience) you can gain entry into the following Bachelor’s degrees:

  • Bachelor of Social Work
  • Bachelor of Community Welfare
  • Bachelor of Criminal and Community Justice
  • Bachelor of Community Services

CAREER QUICK FACT: Students enrolled in an accredited Bachelor of Social Work are eligible to join the Australian Association of Social Workers.


Job roles

There are a lot of openings for social workers across Australia right now, with strong growth expected over the next 5 years. Here are a number of job roles in this employment sector and the minimum qualifications required:

Social workers are employed by hospitals, schools, aged care facilities, correctional services and indigenous and community service organisations. As a social worker you might be advocating for elderly citizens living in regional Australia, assisting low income families access affordable housing, counselling prisoners and cancer patients, or managing a caseload of individuals who are suffering from depression, anxiety, and various mental health problems.

Written by Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda is a professional writer, blogger and musician. When she’s not writing she’s creating online resources that help disadvantaged kids develop English literacy and life skills.

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