Social Work Placement in Geraldton

Student Reflection

Course: 

Bachelor of Social Work

Placement Location:

Geraldton

Year of Placement:

2022

As part of my Social Work degree, I was fortunate enough to complete a fourteen-week placement in Geraldton, Western Australia. Geraldton is a regional town in the Mid-West of the state, situated on the Traditional Lands of the Southern Yamatji Peoples. My placement was in a small not for profit agency working with youth experiencing homelessness.

Prior to my placement, I’d never been to Geraldton however in my time there I found the community to be extremely welcoming. The experience of a regional placement was enriching because I was able to develop my practice knowledge and skills. In addition, I lived in student accommodation, sharing a house with students of various other allied health professions and this allowed me to gain a better understanding of what each of those disciplines involve and how in future practice I may be able to engage my clients with their services.

As an older student, going into this placement I had extensive work experience in other industries but had never worked in human services. As such, I was nervous about whether I could connect my theoretical learning with real life practice. This placement experience has helped me to realise just how important life experience is in social work and that my existing skills are transferrable. In addition, I have developed confidence in my abilities, in particular the skills needed to build positive relationships with clients. I found the most important aspect of practice was to allow clients to proceed at their own pace and it was essential to work from a non-judgemental perspective. I found it extremely helpful to consider the theories that may help explain a client’s behaviour or attitude towards me. Then by applying a practice model that addressed the issue, I had many positive interactions with clients. For example, by acknowledging the impact that colonisation has had on Indigenous Australians I could apply an anti-oppressive framework to my practice in order help my Indigenous clients feel more comfortable with me and attempt to even out the power imbalance. The positive relationships I built with several young people throughout my placement is the achievement I am most proud of.

Given the length of my placement, the ACEN Scholarship supported me not only with much appreciated financial assistance but also with mentorship. Meeting with my mentor throughout my placement gave me a space to discuss my career aspirations, possible future study pathways, and receive general practice advice that assisted my learning. I would recommend a rural placement for any future student as a valuable way to increase skills and knowledge for practice.