14 thoughts on “Eavesdropping

  1. Interesting to look at the differences between England and Australia, for social work training. The AASW is going down the College of Social Work pathway. SW is currently an unregistered profession in Australia, but to join AASW you need the accredited 4 year BSW or a 2 year MSW. The degree is generic in focus. Health Depts and child protection services – both State jurisdictions – provide the bulk of SW positions, along with some Federal services. My student placements were with a policy officer in a peak body for aged care, and with a SW in a prison – followed by postgrad training in dispute resolution. But I think I am also untypical, in not working in health or child protection.

  2. It sounds quite similar in parts – our registration requirement is relatively new (2005) and prior to that it was exactly the same as over there. Similarly the majority of jobs would be in local authorities with some in health service – although even though I’m physically in a health team, I’m actually employed (seconded) by the local authority – that’s fairly common with social workers in mental health teams. There are some voluntary sector positions around.. but the largest chunk is in the stat sector.
    I don’t really know much about how things work in Australia, except I’ve worked alongside a fair few australian social workers who have visas to work over here and it seemed a lot more similar than the way the training etc is organised in the US, for example – legal differences obviously nonewithstanding.

  3. It is a strange situation. Im not sure how true it is, but it’s been widely held by students on my course that if you don’t get a placement with children, you’ll never be able to get a job doing children and families work. It’ll be an option that’s always closed.

    I don’t know how true this is. Really, we could benefit from having better careers advice in the first term.

  4. I think its realisitic going on what seems to be happening in my authority that unless you are a childrens worker doing child protection jobs not safe, even then ….
    Social Workers in adults will not now be able to progress, so will be stuck on bottom level. They are not paid enough as it is.
    Ive just had the expected, Increment freeze, “offer” (ha ha) letter today. Its basically sign it or be sacked.
    This may be a little negative but believe we are all being treated like easily disposable rubbish.

  5. So did you hear any good of yourself, cb? 😉

    I find it sad as well that adult care isn’t rated. I was aware that there was a high turnover rate in care of the elderly, but didn’t know that working with children was a prerequisite for job security. I find it puzzling, as the numbers of elderly are increasing. Surely services are going to have to be increased at some point to accommodate them?

  6. We have some of the same dynamics here in the U.S., and even sharper divisions between those who do direct/clinical practice and those who are more focused on policy or community change. The greatest danger in this specialization, I think, is not only that certain client populations are comparatively disadvantaged, but that we miss opportunities to work with entire systems, and we overlook the many, overlapping ways in which the social problems with which we occupy ourselves as a profession and intertwined.

  7. Thanks for the comments (and Happy New Year Julie!). I really think a lot is lost by the increasing specialisation. I love working in the area I work in but sometimes wish I had had the advantage of more variety or a broader perspective – especially listening to colleagues who had worked in generic services (Seebohm and all that!).
    Melinda – thanks for that – it’s an interesting but different dichotomy. Personally, I don’t feel very connected with the policy people who seem to exist on a different planet and seem to have some kind of distaste for direct fieldwork… I accept that could be wholly unfair but it is a perception that exists.
    I absolutely agree about working with entire systems – it seems to have been completely lost here in the UK at least. It’s not coming back but I think that a lot has been lost in the process.

  8. When I was a student and needed help finding a first year placement, I made an appointment with my professor.
    One of the first things she said to me was “so I assume you don’t want something working with children?”
    “No,” I said “How did you know?”
    to which she responded “The women with their own children never do.”
    I was surprised, but glad she understood. Besides, most of my classmates were like the students you described, and only wanted to work with children.

    I find in my area, services for seniors are growing, but children’s services are certainly the most guaranteed to maintain funding.

  9. Hi Nectarine
    I have a bit of a story of why I didn’t want to work with children (nothing to do with not liking children!) but it’s a bit long to go into here.. I do, however, love working with older adults. I’m so glad I ‘ended up’ in this area and is it actually primarily due to my first placement in that area..

  10. Sorry, bit late coming to this party, but a couple of comments on twitter recently sparked my memory of this post so I thought it might be worth adding something.

    As I’ve mentioned before I am about to start the MA (well, in Sept) and my experience (all voluntary) so far has been across a variety of sectors… homelessness, addiction, dementia, family support, high-risk young people and some direct work with primary school age children, so there isn’t anything on that front that is particularly skewing my views on the area I’m most likely to work in.

    My feeling at this stage is that, like those students you heard, I am most likely to focus my attention on C&F work, but I am far from 100% on this, and would definitely want to get experience working in MH/Adult services.

    So why my current inclination for C&F as my main focus? Well, it is in some ways similar to how you describe the students – that does sound to be where more jobs are. I am not saying for a second that that is how it should be – I am as unhappy as anyone of the neglect of adult services. However, as someone who will be looking for a good job at the end of the course it does seem that C&F offers the best prospect of finding employment. Maybe I’m wrong on this and will learn different – it is just the impression I have got.

    And then there is a fact that as you have pointed out a number of times, children’s work, and specifically child protection, does seem to be shaping the agenda for SW in England. Again, I completely agree that this isn’t how things should be, but as a new entrant to the profession it would take quite a brave decision to specialise in sector with fewer available jobs and a trend away from SW services and without much influence to change things. I know it isn’t right that I think like this, and I can’t emphasise strongly enough that I wish the situation was different, but there does come a point of self-interest and the need to actually get a job at the end of the degree (I am in my thirties and changing career so not earning for 2 years isn’t the simplest of decisions to have made!).

    Also, I completely agree about the value of generic/cross-sector training. How you can work with families and genuinely help them and the children without an understanding of the issues the families are facing (be they mental health problems, addiction etc) is beyond me.

    This has turned into a bit of rambling stream of thought, but I just wanted to add my thoughts.

    I suppose it would be also be interesting to know whether you would make the same choices if you were entering the profession now: seeing the situation with jobs and service provision would you still choose to train to be SW and would you still decide to focus on adult services and seek employment in that area? And do you think you’d get a job?!

    cheers, and a belated happy new year!

  11. Hi Hound.
    All the points you make are of course, very valid and pertinent. It’s difficult for me to think about going back to where I was and the choices I might make. When I started the social work course, I was absolutely convinced I wanted to work in learning disabilities. I also had a preference for wanting to work in the voluntary sector.
    The voluntary sector still interests me as it is a lot more flexible and in a lot of ways you have less of the ‘control’ and more of a ‘care’ elements of social care. There is also more scope for policy input, I think.
    So back to your question, yes, I think I would still have chosen to stay in the adult field – but I think I would have focussed my job search out of statutory services. I wouldn’t have earnt as much as I did in the statutory services but seeing as I came from working as a care assistant, any small increase in salary was a bonus for me.
    I dream that one day I’ll be able to afford to move back into the third sector..

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