The COVID-19 crisis and the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has created a critical need for local social workers, according to USC Fraser Coast’s new Social Work academic Tess Parker.
Ms Parker, who was recently appointed to help deliver the Bachelor of Social Work at the Fraser Coast campus, said it was an ideal time for school leavers or those considering a career change to join the profession.
Social work students can now save on the cost of their degree after it was identified as an area of expected future job demand in the Federal Government’s new Job-ready Graduates Package.
This scheme is set to lower fees across Australia for degrees in social work, behavioural science and psychology when studied as professional pathways.
Ms Parker said social work was one of Australia’s fastest growing professions and practitioners were in high demand on the Fraser Coast.
“This is especially the case with the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme which requires a doubling of workers in the disability sector,” she said.
“The NDIS and the response to COVID-19 highlights how social work is a profession that has, at its core, the flexibility to work in a multitude of areas of need,” Ms Parker said.
“The Fraser Coast is reaching out for services to deal with existing needs – mental health, family wellbeing, an older demographic – and the human impacts of the pandemic.”
Applications are open to study at USC Fraser Coast in 2021, with full degrees in Social Work, Primary Education and Nursing Science offered through flexible, face-to-face delivery at the campus.
Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said by offering the degree locally, USC was helping to meet the need for professionals with skills to deliver mental health and disability support services in the region.
“The study program will provide qualified, job-ready graduates who can play an essential role in enhancing the wellbeing of the Fraser Coast,” he said.
“Importantly, it also expands employment options for those in our region who are looking for a rewarding career that makes a positive impact in their own community.”
Ms Parker said the four-year degree, which integrated learning with practical workplace experience, provided graduates with transferrable skills for a range of job opportunities.
“It lays the foundations for a host of roles including mental health, family violence, trauma, child protection, counselling, community development and change management.”
Ms Parker will bring experience in management and consultancy to her position as Lecturer in Social Work at the Fraser Coast campus, including various regional, state and national management positions across the non-government Human Services sector.
Other roles include CEO of Gympie disability services provider Avenues Lifestyle Support and management roles with the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability.