Social Work

Social Work Placements

Welcome to social work field education at the University of Wollongong (UOW). Field education provides students with the opportunity to put their University learning into practice and explore the world of social work. For the majority of students, the field education experience confirms their interest in and commitment to social work. Field education provides rich opportunities for students to develop their knowledge, skills and social work identity via workplace learning. 

The success of our fieldwork program depends on the meaningful partnerships and quality working relationships between the University and agencies. These partnerships are based on mutual respect, collaboration and commitment to student development. The University acknowledges and appreciates the immense contribution of agencies, staff and service users who freely give their time, commitment, resources and expertise to the education of our social work students.

It is a requirement of the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) that students undertake two 500 hour field education (placement) subjects during their social work degree. Students are to attend placement 3-4 days per week for the duration of the 500 hours. In extenuating circumstances, variations to the days per week will be considered by the subject coordinator and must be accompanied by support documents (eg reasonable adjustment, medical certificates) in order to be compliant with the AASW accreditation requirements.

All placements are sourced by our experienced Field Education Coordinators. You will be matched to placement based on a variety of factors including your areas of interest, your availability, your location and areas that would be problematic for you to be placed.

Key Information

All students completing health-related programs* must meet the mandatory NSW Health Student Compliance requirements for:

  • Immunisations and vaccinations - to minimise the risk of transmission of vaccine-preventable diseases,
  • Code of conduct, and
  • Police check.

You will only be able to attend a placement within a NSW Health Facility after you have met these requirements and NSW Health have verified your evidence.

It is your responsibility to meet these requirements and to maintain your compliance throughout your course. If you do not meet or maintain these requirements, you may be prevented from attending a future placement.

Collating evidence can take some time; for some students it may take several months to complete the requirements, it is important that you start now.

NSW Health recognise the time it can take and allow a “temporary compliance” period of six months for any student that meets the “minimum requirements”. If you fall into the “temporary compliant” category you will be able to attend a placement whilst you finalise meeting all the requirements (e.g., complete your Hepatitis B vaccination regimen).

The following steps outline how you can meet the mandatory NSW Health Student Compliance requirements. Whilst it is recommended that you start collating your evidence 2-3 months before commencing, you can only finalise collating your evidence after you have enrolled as your UOW student ID card is a required component.

Immunisation and vaccination details

1. Download the NSW Governments Vaccination Record Card for Health Care Workers and Students (PDF) (please ensure you use the current version from this link as older versions will not be accepted). This card details the vaccinations that are required. Take this card to your GP to complete, ensuring they sign and practice stamp all entries made.

2. Collate evidence of your vaccinations. The best evidence is a copy of your Immunisation History Statement from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

If your full immunisation history is not available on your immunisation history statement, review the detail on the Student Compliance Web page, in particular “What evidence do I need?” and “What constitutes evidence?”

Full COVID-19 vaccination evidence is mandatory. Acceptable evidence is either a copy of your immunisation history statement OR a copy of your COVID-19 digital certificate OR an approved NSW Health medical contraindication form. Any vaccination evidence must detail dates of all doses received and the name of vaccine received (e.g., Pfizer). International students should follow the Services Australia guidelines to obtain appropriate evidence.

If you have not received all your required vaccinations, discuss the options of receiving these ASAP with your GP.

3. Collate evidence of your immunity status. Some vaccinations require a blood test and serology report to confirm your immunity (e.g., Hepatitis B). If your GP documents serology results on your Vaccination Record Card for any vaccination (i.e., Hepatitis B, MMR, Varicella or TB), you must also provide a copy of the serology report/s as evidence. Some serology (e.g., Hepatitis B) can only be provided if it was taken at least 28 days after your last age-appropriate dose of the vaccine.

Minimum Requirements: If you have evidence of at least one (1) dose of Hepatitis B vaccine (but not all) and meet ALL other requirements, you meet the minimum requirements and will be verified as Temporary Compliant.

Temporary compliance allows you to attend a health-related placement whilst you finalise the Hepatitis B regimen. Temporary compliance expires after 6 months.

NSW Health documentation 

4. Download each of the following NSW Health forms and answer ALL questions. Personally sign each document as electronic signatures will not be accepted:

  • Student Undertaking / Declaration (Appendix 6) – 4 questions that require 1 answer each.
  • Tuberculosis (TB) Assessment Tool (Attachment 7) – note the specific requirements if additional testing is required.
  • Blood Borne Virus (BBV) declaration – Medical students only*
  • Code of Conduct Agreement.

Links to all of these documents are included on the Student Compliance Web page.

Police Check documentation

5. All students (both local and international) must provide a valid Australian National Police Certificate (NPC). A valid NPC is one that is:

If you are planning to do a health placement within the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), it is recommended that you obtain your NPC through either NSW Police or the Australian Federal Police (and not a listed ACIC accredited body). ACT Health have slightly different requirements.

Once verified by NSW Health, all NPCs are valid for five (5) years from their purchase date.  NPC’s must remain valid for the duration of your program.

Disclosable Outcomes: If your NPC contains any disclosable outcomes (i.e. a charge or conviction), you must also independently apply for a Clinical Placement Clearance; the application process is detailed on the Student Compliance Web page. Please contact your placement coordinator for assistance.

International Students: If you are an international student, you must also provide either:

  • An Overseas Police Check (OPC) from your home country (and/or any country you have resided in since turning 18 years of age)
    OR
  • A signed and witnessed Overseas Student Statutory Declaration form as found on the Student Compliance Web page. NB: this Statutory Declaration can only be completed after arriving in NSW as it must be witnessed by an authorised person as detailed on the form.

Proof of student identity

6. A photocopy / PDF copy of your UOW student ID card must be provided (this is only available after you have commenced at UOW)

Check that you have everything

Use this quick checklist to self-assess your readiness for NSW Health to verify you as being compliant (or temporary compliant).

  • A completed Vaccination Record Card for Health Care Workers and Students
  • Evidence of your vaccinations (e.g., a copy of your Immunisation History Statement or other evidence)
  • Evidence of your immunity status (i.e., copies of all relevant serology reports)
  • Signed copies of the required NSW Health Documentation

a. Student Undertaking / Declaration (Appendix 6)
b. Tuberculosis (TB) Assessment Tool (Attachment 7)
c. Blood Borne Virus (BBV) declaration – Medical students only*
d. Code of Conduct Agreement

  • Police Check documentation – Your Australian National Police Certificate. NB: International students must also provide an Overseas Police Check OR sign a Statutory Declaration form.
  • UOW student ID card

Upload your evidence to SONIA

SONIA is the UOW Student Placement System; an online portal for all things related to placements. Once you have commenced at UOW you will be granted access to SONIA. Instruction on how to upload your evidence can be found in the How to upload “check” evidence and how to navigate the Check Tab within SONIA guide (PDF).

  • Login to SONIA and navigate to the Checks Screen
  • Upload your evidence to the appropriate fields (PDF documents only with individual file size limited to 1MB)

Your evidence will be checked by the UOW Verification Team before it is sent to NSW Health to be verified.

NB: If there is a need for you to re-upload and / or correct some evidence, you will be sent an email to your UOW mail address requesting the same. It is important that you follow up on these requests as soon as possible.

Further information can be found from the FAQ’s - NSW Health Student Compliance and verification (PDF) or from the UOW Verification Team uow-verification@uow.edu.au

In order to be allocated a social work placement, all students are required to:

  • Complete the NSW Health Student Compliance Requirements
  • Submit to UOW a NSW Working with children check (can be for paid or volunteer work)
  • Submit to UOW an Australian National Police Certificate (NPC).  National Police Certificates (or National Police Checks) are available through all State or Territory Police Forces, the Australian Federal Police or a number of Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) accredited bodies.  NPC's are valid for five years from date of issue and must be valid for the duration of your placement/s.  
  • If you are an International Student, in addition to an Australian NPC, you must also provide a National Police Certificate from your home country (or any country you have resided in for more than 6 months since turning 18 years of age).  If this is not possible, you must complete the Overseas Student Statutory Declaration which needs to be witnessed by a Justice of the Peace, a Legal Practitioner or a Judicial Officer. Please note, this Declaration can only be completed after arriving in NSW.
  • Submit to UOW a Student Field Application form and Placement Acknowledgement Form (this form will be sent to you when applicable)
  • Attend a pre-placement consultation with a UOW Field Education Coordinator (information will be provided when applicable)

 The above requirements will have deadlines in order for you to be allocated a placement. Deadlines will be communicated to you via your UOW Mail when placement preparation begins.

The University will attempt to secure placement opportunities in various locations predominately throughout the Illawarra, Shoalhaven, South Western Sydney and Sydney region. However, some placements may be located outside of this area and may result in students having to travel to places that are relatively distant from campus and their residences in order to benefit from a range of placement experiences. Currently, the recommended maximum travel time from a student’s place of residence to the placement agency should be no greater than one hour (or 90km). The student’s learning needs and placement experience will take priority over the distance of the placement. The student is responsible for all costs associated with undertaking a field placement.

  • What if I have previous experience in the Social Work industry?

    There is the possibility of being assessed for recognition of prior learning (RPL) for the first field placement or part thereof. UOW is guided by the AASW guidelines in relation to RPL assessment. Please see RPL/CPL section on this page for more detailed information.

  • How long is a placement?

    The AASW requires all students undertaking a Social Work degree to undertake 1000 hours of placements per degree. UOW delivers these requirements in two 500 hour placements (in different practice fields) per degree (approximately 70 days based on 7 hours a day plus 30 minutes for lunch). Each placement must commence at least one year apart.

  • How many days per week will I attend placement?

    Placements are usually four days per week in the agency. This is negotiated between yourself and the agency at the pre-placement agency interview. You will also attend compulsory seminars (tutorials) alongside your attendance in the agency. Details can be found on the subject timetable.

  • When does placement commence?

    Bachelor of Social Work first placement - Mid January

    Bachelor of Social Work second placement - End June

    Master of Social Work (Qualifying) first or second placement - Start May

    Master of Social Work (Qualifying) first or second placement - Start October

  • Will I get paid for my placement?

    Being paid for a field education placement is not the standard practice. We understand it's difficult not to get paid for such a large duration however all Australian Universities are governed by the requirements as outlined by the AASW when offering an accredited program.

  • Can I do my placement where I work?

    Yes but there are strict guidelines from the AASW with regards to work-based placements. You must perform a different role for your placement to what you are employed in. There needs to be a formal agreement between the University and your workplace.

  • Where can I do my placement?

    Placements are usually undertaken in settings, including community service organisations, health, mental health, research projects, youth, children and family services, aged care and occasionally education providers.

  • Do I need to find my own placement?

    No. All placements are sourced by our Field Education Coordinators. You will submit a field application form and attend a consultation prior to being allocated a placement.

Bachelor of Social Work – SOWK310/343 Supervised Professional Practice I

Master of Social Work (Qualifying) - SOWK916 Professional Practice Placement I

  1. Take responsibility for professional practice;
  2. Take responsibility for administrative requirement in the agency;
  3. Demonstrate a commitment to professional and civic engagement in practice settings;
  4. Initiate and sustain relationships with individuals, families, groups and or communities;
  5. Identify, assess and respond to risk, diversity, rights and/or responsibilities as appropriate;
  6. Identify and explore needs in context with individuals, families, groups and/or communities;
  7. Establish a process to observe and analyse information;
  8. Set goals and monitor specific service arrangements as required in the agency context;
  9. Implement appropriate and negotiated activities.

Bachelor of Social Work - SOWK410 Supervised Professional Practice II

Master of Social Work (Qualifying) - SOWK924 Professional Practice Placement II

  1. Construct effective practice approaches in working with diverse groups using a human rights and social justice framework;
  2. Form purposeful relationships with individuals, families, groups and or communities in complex contexts;
  3. Gather selective information on psychosocial issues including consumers’ and community perspectives;
  4. Interpret the multifaceted needs of individuals, families, groups and or communities;
  5. Establish a process to synthesise information from individuals, families, groups and or communities;
  6. Design plans for safe and effective practice;
  7. Implement appropriate and negotiated activities with individuals, families, groups and communities;
  8. Propose models for effective practice in programs and services using evidence from practice;
  9. Consult with supervisors to resolve ethical, legal, policy and administrative dilemmas in professional practice;
  10. Demonstrate a commitment to professional and civic engagement in practice settings.

The AASW and UOW acknowledge that social work students bring with them skills, knowledge and experience that can be recognised through the RPL/CPL assessment process. You can only apply for RPL/CPL for your first placement. 

To determine if you are eligible for full or partial recognition/credit of prior learning for your first placement you will need to meet the current criteria outlined by the AASW guidelines for Recognition for Prior Learning in the Australian Social Work Education and Accreditation Standards (ASWEAS). 

Your application and evidence will be assessed by UOW in keeping with the UOW and AASW RPL/CPL assessment process and you will be informed of the outcome with enough time to withdraw from the subject before census, submit a grievance regarding the RPL/CPL assessment outcome or make arrangements to continue with your placement.

Below are the guidelines specified by the AASW for RPL/CPL:

  • I can demonstrate that I have at least three years (full-time equivalent) in a health or welfare setting that would be deemed appropriate as a field education setting for a first placement student.
  • I can demonstrate that the tasks in the roles I have held are similar to those of a Social Worker, for example, casework, risk assessment, counselling, management or community development work.
  • For each role I am using as evidence, I am able to provide a referee to verify I performed the tasks I have stated
  • I am able to forward a portfolio of evidence that will meet UOW and AASW RPL requirements.
  • I understand that to be assessed for RPL/CPL, I need to submit necessary documentation in addition to my evidence by the date advised by the field education team. These documents include UOW Learning Statement, UOW Application for Credit for Prior Learning, Student Performance Evaluation Addressing AASW Graduate Attributes and UOW HAS RPL/CPL Assessment Document.

All students who are eligible for placement will be contacted about their intention to apply for RPL/CPL and there will also be information sessions advertised to actively enrolled students. If you have questions about the RPL/CPL application process after reviewing the pre-placement Moodle site, please contact your campus Field Education Team for assistance.

Please self enrol in our pre-placement Moodle site to find all the information you need in order to be ready for placement or apply for recognition of prior learning. The site is not a subject, enter the site name in the search box on your Moodle home page (use the self enrol document linked above). The site name can be found on your Sonia home page.

Our social work placements are coordinated by our Field Education Team. If you still have questions after reading through the information supplied, please email our team via our placement email address swplacement-woll@uow.edu.au.