Social work in central Australia

The scholarship I received from the ACEN allowed me to have the fantastic experience of conducting my final social work placement at the … Council in ………

… Council is an Indigenously owned organisation which operates as the major service delivery agency for the 18 Housing Associations known as ‘town camps’ in ……… My placement took place within the Family Violence Prevention Program, and specifically within the ‘Domestic Violence Specialist Children’s Service’. This program is relatively new, having started in March 2016, and is situated within the broader Family Violence Prevention Programs such as the Men’s Behaviour Change Program and the Women’s Family Safety Project.

The Youth Program involves group work and individual casework. The groups are separately designed for boys and girls and aim to provide psycho-education around identifying family violence, dispelling myths regarding accountability and discussing cultural constructions of masculinities.

Casework involves supporting clients regarding their needs and goals with a strength based framework and providing advocacy in relation to their engagement with other organisations.

For me, this placement has been great. I was lucky enough to arrive whilst the Young Person’s program was in its infancy. In this way, I was able to play an active role in the program development process. Consequently, I was given the licence to think for myself and have a level of ownership over the content I was delivering. This enabled me to build confidence in my own abilities.

I have really enjoyed thinking and talking about masculinity. I think gender is such a complex and powerful force in out lives. Exploring new and less destructive ways of being a man seems to me a valuable point of engagement with young people.

I have been able to work with some young Indigenous people from the town camps over a decent period of time. These are people I most likely would never have met otherwise. I have learnt many things about Central Australian Indigenous culture and the implications of the socio-economic context in which they are embedded. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the people I have worked alongside and formed some solid relationships.

The group of workers at the organisation have been inspiring. They are so dedicated to what they do, with each worker bringing different aspects of their personality to the job. These differences have proved a fertile ground for learning.

In the afterglow of this placement I am feeling stimulated by the possibilities of future employment. This placement has made me feel more competent as a social worker and strengthened my belief that it will be a valuable profession to undertake.

Without the ACEN scholarship, I would not have been able to afford living in another city and had this fantastic experience. So for that, I am grateful.